There’s been a lot of noise about Google+. First it was the meteoric rise of the new platform and social media types rushed to learn it and get those tips and tricks posts out. Personally I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Google+. On the one hand it’s got the best features of Twitter like immediacy and fast moving conversations with the added plus of being able to direct conversations to channels (Circles) of people who are actually interested in that topic and exclude the ones who could care less. It’s Twitter on steroids. They are also doing an amazing job of listening to what the network wants and adding new features to suit. How cool is that?
Unfortunately the platform has quite a lot of downside too. I’ve noted before that the Google+ Business pages may not be for all brands, some have built their Google+ pages and done quite well, but maybe not well enough to ax that Facebook page just yet. The user interface is getting better but it’s still painful to get in and out unlike sites like Twitter and Facebook which are very manageable through 3rd party apps. Heck, even for this article many of us are confused about the name itself, is it G+, Google Plus, Google + or Google+??? The very fact that the + sign causes SEO problems speaks volumes about Google’s planning on this thing. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fact that their own browser, Chrome, crashes Google+ regularly unless you disable their implementation of Flash. And STILL, I love it. I don’t use it as much as I’d like to, but every time I do I wish it was easier to use so I would use it more.
With the recent hoo-ha about brands abandoning Google + pages for Pinterest, I reached out to my network to ask some top social media practitioners what they thought. Here’s what they said:
Google+ is full of twists and turns when it comes to evaluating its usefulness. I’m sure many in the search marketing world will echo the sentiment that Google+ participation has initially felt like an obligation because of the potential impact on search visibility.
Search Marketers must know the details to properly advise clients.
Some companies are using Google+ for that reason and others understand that Google+ users do indeed represent their target market and those who influence the target market.
Personally, I find Google+ useful for surfacing content that I don’t find on Twitter or Facebook. The traffic we get from Google+ also sticks longer than other social media referrals.
For brands and marketers deciding on Google+ or any other social site, I think you need to actually research, plan, use and measure in a meaningful way to determine the impact. Awareness, extended reach and building connections with niche influencers as well as longer term indirect impact such as an increase in search visibility are all valuable outcomes from Google+ participation. To me, services like Google+ are tools and tools are only as effective as the skills of the people using them.
Does Google+ have the potential to be a valuable platform for nonprofits or is it just another shiny object to distract nonprofits?
Should your nonprofit do more than simply set up a presence on Google+ and not invest any more time?
What is a productive way to experiment and learn to the answers to these questions without wasting time?
These were the questions that were going through my mind as I listened to a presentation on Google+.
Here’s my best advice for nonprofits that want to create a plan for getting started with a low risk experiment.
So, should business be on Google+ now? Absolutely, but your customers may not be there yet. I tell clients to only build and support social platforms where they find their customers and prospects currently. However, Google+ is a beast of a different color that will have a deep impact on how your business gets found on the world’s biggest search engine for the foreseeable future. Brands need to hedge their bets. You need to be watching and developing your Google+ presence or risk getting lost as the next generation of search passes you by.
Google has already made several announcements signaling their clear intention to integrate Plus content and comments in results. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Plus is owned by Google. They will use Google+ content and serve it up in search results, and give it preferential ranking like they do now with YouTube results. It is probable-unless the courts are successful making an anti-trust action stick-that Google will exclude Facebook and Twitter results in favor of their platform.
While there is much focus on which social networking site will ultimately reign supreme, it is, to a large extent, a pointless conversation. There are unique strengths and opportunities to each. A critical part of any successful social strategy is an understanding of these unique elements, and tailoring content and engagement with them in mind.For me and millions of others, Google+ has proven to be an incredibly powerful platform for discovery of new and relevant people and brands.
Is it easy to accomplish this? Definitely not, it takes a great deal of planning and hard work – just as it does anywhere online. I hear almost as many people dismissing the possibilities of success on Twitter or Facebook as I do Google+. It’s too early to discount any of them as the social landscape is changing rapidly.
I love the interface and interactivity that Google+ offers. The platform enable threaded, in-depth conversations that other platforms (including Facebook Pages) lack. The conversations on Google+ are more interactive than any I’ve encountered on a Facebook Page or on Twitter.
Google+ is also set up to easily explore and find others for conversation and connection. Google+ has become one of my favorite social media channels for in-depth topical conversation and exploration of ideas and new contacts.
Have you read my book yet? “Social Media Success! – Practical advice and real-world examples for social media” is available on Amazon