Google+ is both a social network in its own right and a social layer that runs across all of Google’s products. A new user is immediately struck by the different look and feel of the platform. Contacts, information and interactions are managed through a system of circles.
Contacts or “people” can be added to one or more circles e.g. a circle for family members, a circle for friends, a circle for customers. As a business you might set up circles that mirror a sales funnel and move people between circles as they progress through the sales cycle.
Like Twitter you can follow anyone (add them to a circle) and see their public posts but only when they add you back can you message them directly.
Posts can be shared publically or with specific individuals, circles or communities. A sophisticated settings menu allows users to fine tune which the posts they see and who can see their posts.
Google gives businesses the option of setting up local, company or brand pages. As you might expect the big brands are already well established. One of the interesting things about Google+ is there is much more of a blurring between business and personal, which creates a more open and informal atmosphere.
“Personal brands are powerful. People trust and listen to a person before they trust and listen to a logo”.
Mark Traphagen SEO and Reputation Expert
As a result many small and medium sized businesses focus on building personal followings first before gradually encouraging those who are interested to follow their business page.
Growth can be meteoric. For example one US marketer I know grew her followers from 77 to 50,000 in just 9 months (see chart). In a recent interview ex Bristol, and now California based, marketing expert Martin Shervington shared that of the 37,000 hits per month on his website 29,000 are coming from Google+.
Analytics report showing explosive growth of followers in just 7 1/2 months for a US Google+ member (reporting tool is Circlecount).
Circle management is a genius piece of design that enables a very open, flexible and controllable way of interacting with other people. Google+ has several other features that in combination set it apart from other social networks.
Leaving aside the many great features of the product there are compelling reasons why your business should become active on Google+:
As with other social platforms Google+ is a work in progress. Google’s approach is to give you great tools then let you work out how you want to use them, as a result there is a steeper learning curve for the Google+ which has been a barrier for some people in the past.
Some parts of the platform are definitely not yet fully developed. For example analytics and reporting tools are pretty but basic. Hangouts and particularly the Hang Out on Air are outstanding tools for creating engagement with an audience but people without a Google+ account can only interact with the live HOA broadcasts through third party tools.
It’s true that Google+ adoption amongst in some places of the world like the UK is lagging behind the US. However I predict you will see an explosion of interest in Google+ in the next few months. As a forward thinking business you should be building and developing your Google+ profile now.
To reinforce the point here are 12 businesses who are already demonstrating great returns from Google+.