6 November 2014 By Northern Lights
Google+ was launched on 28 June, 2011 with Google determined to make this latest social media platform the new LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Skype all rolled in together.
Yet three years on, few business people are really using it – and it is a rarity to find anyone who loves it.
So why do I say you have to love it?
I confess I am still not at home on Google+ so I took a couple of books on holiday with me to spur me on – of course in the end, the theory doesn’t really help. You just have to get stuck in and experiment.
But two books I would recommend are Google+ for Business by Chris Brogan (I’ve long been a fan of Chris’s – his book Trust Agents was an early influence on my thinking about social media: read the review I did in Ten Steps from Trust Agents to improve your social media engagement) – and What the Plus! by Guy Kawasaki.
What both authors stress is – Google has invested mega bucks in Google+ and is determined to make it work. So don’t ignore it.
Google owns the world’s biggest search engine. It creates its own algorithms to decide what should appear top of a search. And anything you post on Google+ will have a significant impact on your search engine rankings.
As Chris Brogan puts it: “If you don’t jump into Google+ and start figuring it out now, you’ll be behind by the time everyone else shows up. If you doubt for a moment that the world’s largest search engine (Google), where 68 per cent of all businesses start looking for you, is going to give up easily on the whole ‘build a useful social network project’, think again.”
Nicely put Chris, thanks!
Just last week the MD of our IT support company told me that he has signed out of Facebook forever. Not perhaps what you expect to hear from a techie person. I intend to write more about this in the future, but he was struggling with clients wanting to ‘friend’ him, what people down the pub were posting and the impact on his professional and family reputation.
The great thing about Google+ is that you create ‘circles’ of friends and can define who sees what you post, and manage what gets shared to whom.
Actually I find this aspect quite spooky and I am not necessarily committed to this side of the platform.
Google+ is owned by Google. So naturally Google is linking up Google Places, Google Docs, Google Calendar and the rest. If you want to see just how much Google has already pieced together about you, click through to your Google dashboard.
Because I have an iphone I didn’t think there would be much about me on this – but I had forgotten my UAE mobile is Android and connected through Gmail. So Google has all my 2000+ contact details.
The conflict we will all have to manage is – if we want our businesses, our blogs, our services to perform well on Google searches, we are going to have to compromise on our privacy. Read Janet Vertesi’s story about just how difficult it was to ‘hide’ her pregnancy from Google for a year.
Because you can divide your contacts into circles – clients, university contacts, home friends, yoga class, kids’ parents, journalists etc – you can start posting content that is relevant or tailored to each of your niche circles.
This is really appealing. I do a lot with leaders about personal branding and the need for a consistent ‘brand’ to come over on social media. Most leaders are actively involved in their communities, sit on boards etc and this can be hard to manage in terms of one clear ‘brand’. I sit on the board of Northern Ballet and when we have an opening night, for instance, I might mention it on Twitter and wish everyone success for the tour. But if you don’t know that I’m involved with Northern Ballet, it could feel odd to see it popping up. With Google+, it would be much easier to niche these messages to particular groups.
Earlier this year, in our business planning session, we decided that each of us should become experts in particular fields of social media that we hadn’t yet tackled. Our new colleague Ben Pindar said he would become ‘Mr Google+’. And oh my goodness, has he. If you want to hear the why, what and when of Google+ from this convert, then book on to one of his workshops! Or buy Guy Kawasaki’s book on Kindle for just $2.99 – he also covers all the how tos that any beginner is likely to need.
Has this persuaded you to look at Google+ – or become more involved? Would love to know how you are finding it.
And note to self, must still get properly into Google+!