Chances are, you probably have a Google+ profile whether or not you use it, or knew it even. The platform was launched in June 2011 as a social feature on Google but it has become much more. The original features included things like photo sharing and status updates. Sounds like Facebook, right? Think again. The main difference between this network and its social media precursors is that it gave users the option to post to all of their followers or to selective circles. These circles are basically groups based off of interest, and different types of relationships. For instance my profile might include groups like acquaintances, work, Ouachita Baptist University, EEE PC 13, high school friends or my OBU Social Media class. People can overlap, but the basic idea was that you could choose whom you were broadcasting each particular post to. Facebook now offers some similar features, but it works in a slightly different way. The platform also included private cloud-based photo albums instant messing, video chats called “hangouts” and events.
Within the first 2 weeks of the launch, Google+ reached 10 million users. By October 2011, the platform claimed to have reached 40 million users. However, there has been some debate to whether or not this information clearly depicts the true usage of the site. One report in 2012 showed that users spent 3.3 minutes on Google+ compared to a whopping 7.5 hours these same users spent on Facebook. Ars Technica, a technology news website explained that Google+ sign ups were “often just an incidental byproduct of signing up for other Google services.”
Even though it hasn’t reached usage levels as some of its competitors, the app definitely has some cool features that you just can’t get with other platforms. The coolest thing to me about this site is that it takes something you already use daily, Google, and creates a customized experience out of it. Even though it sounds creepy, it is true… Google knows what you look at, who you talk to, and what you are most interested in. They pull information from who you’ve emailed with, messaged, or have on contacts lists then you decide what group they fall into. It’s easy to customize and helps you stay organized.
This platform is particularly valuable for businesses and should be utilized. As communications professionals, it is increasingly important for us to know the cheapest and easiest ways to get reach your audience and build trust. This platform can do just that. Probably the most valuable feature is that, because it is from Google, effective use can increase your business’ SEO value. Check out this article by Business News Daily and see for yourself just how effective Google+ can be for a small business.
- Do you have a Google+ account? How often would you say you use it?
- Have you ever used any of its features? If so, which one did you find most useful?
- If you haven’t used Google+, what has held you back from doing so?
- Where do you see Google+ going in the future? Do you think it has a lasting power?
- What is one piece of advice in the Business News Daily article that you found particularly valuable or interesting?