Sure, it's not mainstream yet, but Google+ is an influential social engine heavily indexed by the search giant. And your business shouldn't be ignoring that.
There have been a lot of conflicting opinions about Google+, but no one can argue the fact that with more than 20 million visitors in a 21-day "limited" field trial, Google has launched a major competitor to its social media counterparts.
Like plenty of other Google products, Google+ has been cast aside by many with criticism suggesting that it's only for the "nerds" of social media. And, as with other Google products, once this social platform becomes mainstream, all of those non-nerds may be jumping on board to see if they can catch up with everyone else. Whatever stance you take, if your experience in social media is meant to grow your brand and increase your revenues, Google+ is looking more and more like the place to be seen.
"Google+ is a place to find like-interests and like-mindedness and that's an opportunity to find business," says Chris Brogan, President of Human Business Works. I had the honor of interviewing Chris during Monday's Million Dollar Mindset podcast where he offered his comparisons of Google+ to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Chris is one of social media's most renowned pioneers and is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents. In his most recent book release, Google+ for Business: How Google's Social Network Changes Everything, Brogan does an outstanding job of illustrating how just about anyone can benefit from the many opportunities that Google+ offers its community members. Here's what he had to say.
In your book you say that those who are early to use and master Google+ will be best positioned to take advantage of some big opportunities as they arise. What opportunities do you see on the Google+ horizon? Google+ is a work in progress, but I think here's what makes it interesting. Google Places for local businesses linked into Google+ will be huge. Google+ is heavily indexed by Google the search engine. This is huge. Google+ gives YouTube videos a better audience than in YouTube itself.
Other social networks are driven by their culture. How would you describe the culture that is developing at Google+? The culture at Google+ is a bit more involved around interests instead of relationships. Facebook has the lock on knowing friends and family. Twitter owns serendipity and rapid responses. Google+ seems to connect more around interests.
Google+ doesn't appear to be just another social media platform. How will other Google tools integrate into this platform and what value does that offer to the user? Google has dozens of disparate services that can now be linked together via a "social backbone" that now gives sharing and inclusivity a powerful source. Further, realize that all of this is measured by Google the search engine. The more you share, the more others share of your work, the more powerful your search results might be.
It seems that organizing your "circles" is important in order to reap the greatest benefits from this unique feature. At a glance it may seem like an overwhelming administrative task to manage. We don't have to manage our connections this way on other social media platforms, why is it so important on Google+? Circles is pretty important to manage, and it does take some time, but an ounce of prevention creates a pound of cure. Work up front to pick what kinds of people you hope to interact with and arrange them as such. For instance, you might have "prospects" as a circle. You might have "church friends." You might have "colleagues." You can use this kind of circling to limit who sees what, to limit what you choose to read, or you can go all out and post and read via the public stream. It's up to you.
The most common question I get when I speak to people about the value of social media in business is "how do I build a relationship online?" Relationship-building is natural for some, but building "virtual" relationships seems more challenging for many people. Will you give us some examples of how a total stranger has caught your attention in social media and what compels you to maintain a relationship with a new connection? Building most any relationship, online or off, comes often from having similar interests. When people say it's difficult to build relationships online, it's more often a personal discomfort with the "distancing" effect of using online tools. I'd say that you can learn more online than when you talk with someone at a cocktail party. That said, both are important. The online world doesn't remove the offline world's value. Get to know people in person, yes. You'll learn a lot from body language and eye contact. But as for online, you get a great opportunity to learn even more about other people.
Google+ offers some pretty cool features, like video chatting. Is this feature just for fun or is there a benefit beyond conducting business meetings and catching up with friends? The video hangout is already earning people money. Coaches are using it to host live coaching. Music instructors are doing lessons there. Tutors are helping students. This isn't just a nice-to-have. Offering one-to-many connectivity is a great way to improve your earning potential.
Does using Google+ increase Google ranking for its users? If so, can you offer some insights on strategy or is participation all that’s necessary to boost SEO? Yes. I could stop at the word "yes" and have said enough. Google+ is being quite factored into search rankings and SEO. It's a very important part of the story.
Lastly, Chris, as I recall, during your earlier years in social media you were criticized for generating revenue via your blog. How times have changed! What did it take for you, the person, to keep the businessman inside of you motivated in spite of such criticism? Did that experience change you in any way? I have worked really hard to remind myself that for every hater, someone else has mailed me a thank-you for some service I've offered. As best as I can, I deliver value, and when I do, I'm not shy about extracting something in return.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka