Facebook? Check. Twitter? Check. LinkedIn? Check. Pinterest? Depends.
Google Plus? Er…
What Exactly Is Google Plus?
Launched in 2011, Google+ was supposed to be the next Facebook, or at least that’s what everybody said. Google+ is a social media network in which users create a profile and connect with “friends” in “Circles,” where they can share private information between certain groups of people. It was designed to take the best features of social networking, add a few new tools, and connect it to all things Google. And unlike most social media networks, that typically start small and grow in popularity, Google+ was started by, well, Google, so it had to be the best, right?
Intrigued, tons of users ventured into Google+ at first, eager to see what the great tech giant could offer to make their social networking second lives better. One major draw was Google Hangouts, which allowed users to easily videoconference each other and create webcasts. President Obama even used this feature to speak with users live on his first-ever completely virtual interview in January, 2012.
However, the novelty quickly wore off, as users started asking, “Is this worth my time?” And once Google+ allowed companies to start making pages a little later, businesses started asking the same question.
But now, a couple of years later, we’re all asking, “does anyone actually use it?”
Does Anyone Actually Use It?
Google+’s problem was differentiating itself, especially from Facebook, which everyone already knew how to use. Twitter owned the market on sending quick messages and sharing links. LinkedIn managed business connections. Pinterest started sharing recipes and morphed into a major visual and DIY resource. Instagram was all about the photo shares, and videos too once Vine came on the scene. But we’re still struggling to define Google+.
While Google+ is difficult to categorize into a distinct niche, it does have one major use: SEO
Generally, statistics state there are around 500 million Google+ users; an impressive number that puts it ahead of many longer established networks. But you have to take that number with more than a grain of salt. The majority of those users are automatically given a Google+ account when they create a Gmail account. So there’s a large gap between those who have an account and those who use the account.
So, Does Your Business Even Need Google+?
While Google+ is difficult to categorize into a distinct niche, it does have one major use: SEO.
When it comes to search engine optimization, Google is king. Being at the top of search results for certain keywords is a huge benefit to a growing company. Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing your company’s online potential to rank highly on search engine results; using specific keywords throughout your website’s copy, building backlinks, claiming company review profiles, generating consistent, smart content.
And since Google likes to help itself, having a Google+ account helps your Google search rankings. When a company is searched on Google by name, that company’s Google+ profile will appear in the right-hand side bar of results. Company pages that receive more “+1’s” (their version of a “Like”) get higher rankings.
Now What Do You Do With It?
Treat it like you would any other social network: give it content.
When you have a new blog post, a special offer or a public announcement, share it on Google+. Share with Google+ everything you would share with Facebook or your other social media accounts. And be sure to do it consistently.
But don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. Instead, spend the most energy where your followers spend the most time. You may discover your followers are actually on Google+, in which case you’ll already be prepared to engage them. But if they’re engaging with you on another network, put the majority of your time and energy into that network.
You need to be where your audience is. And if they’re not on Google+, then at least you’ll be helping your business get a few ladder rungs higher on search results.