9 February 2015 By Northern Lights
This is it – I’m putting my neck on the line and I’m making a decision about whether Google+ will shutdown or whether Google+ will become bigger than Facebook.
I’ve spent many months understanding and learning to love this platform and then developing insights and Google+ tips for businesses. I’ve delivered a wide range of talks on the subject and we’ve also written blogs on why we have all got to love Google+ and our top tips for Google+.
However, the questions I’m asked the most are: ‘should I bother with Google+?’; ‘is Google+ worth it?’; ‘Is Google+ any good for business?’; ‘will Google+ die?’; and, most importantly, ‘will Google+ become the biggest social media platform?’ or ‘will Google+ take over the world?’.
Until now, the answer has depended on my love-hate relationship with Google+ and, in all honesty, has been vague at best.
Undoubtedly, everyone should be using Google+. If nothing else, it has a big impact on the way you appear in search engine rankings, never mind all of the other innovative functions that are constantly updated and introduced.
Yet, until today, I’ve failed to come down firmly on the big question about the future of Google+.
Social media trends
Predicting social media trends can be a nightmare – anyone remember MySpace, Friendster or Digg? Accurately forecasting the future of a social media site is a quagmire of shifting appetites, demographics and cultures where something as simple as Kim Kardashian’s bottom can have a seismic impact on the popularity of a platform.
However, today I’m putting my reputation on the line and I’m saying Google+ will become the biggest social media platform in the world.
Granted, Google+ already has around one billion registered users but less than 40 per cent actively use it. Despite that, I’m predicting that it will become an integral part of our everyday social media lives and it will soon have more active users than Facebook.
Google+ will become the biggest social media platform in the world
Google+ is trying to become a one-stop shop for all your social media needs, allowing you to communicate with business associates one minute and then your friends the next. By using circles you can control exactly what people see and you can include a wealth of content from short text updates through to full posts with multimedia content.
However, I don’t think Google+ will become the sole survivor of the social media wars. We all like to use a mixture of platforms and that won’t change. However, Google+ will grow its share and I believe it will take Facebook’s crown within the next two years.
The unstoppable rise of Google+
It’s a bold statement and let me try to explain my thinking. Google+ will turn four years old in June of this year but has already built up a massive and loyal active following and that following continues to grow at a frantic rate.
On the flip side, the younger audience is leaving Facebook in droves because the increasingly aging demographic of the site means teenagers now see it “as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.”
Google+ is also constantly adding a wealth of new, innovative features that enable people to do much more than the standard fare offered by most social media sites. From formatted content, review functions and event invites through to lively communities, local business pages and free video calling through Hangouts, it has a lot to offer and that appeal is translating to both individuals and major brands.
The popularity of the communities is interesting. While much of the Google+ offer has been cruelly described as a ghost town, the communities have proved to be a big success, allowing like-minded people to share ideas, questions and content in a forum dedicated to their interests.
The Yorkshire Mafia is one of the few who made a success of the LinkedIn group’s format and have now started moving their 17-000 strong community of business leaders in Yorkshire across to a Google+ community. Fuelled by the increased functionality of Google+, it will be interesting to see how they manage the transition and growth of this new hub.
Google’s +1 button has also proved to be hugely popular. This Google+ function allows people to create a bank of social evidence by giving people the option to like online content and it is currently being clicked five billion times a day.
The future of Google+
Perhaps the most compelling argument for the unstoppable rise of Google+ though, is the growing ambitions of the wider Google empire.
As a business it is now one of the world’s biggest brands and is constantly developing new ways to further integrate itself into our everyday lives – both online and in person.
Ongoing developments like Google Glass which bring a new augmented reality to the real world and Google’s push into the “internet of things”, like smart heating systems you can control remotely through your Google account, means the internet giant is constantly bringing new products to the market.
This entire global network of connected products and services, from mobile phones to self-driving cars, is underpinned by one thing – your Google+ account. Need I say more?
Undoubtedly, there will be many that say I’ve sold my soul to Google and I’m completely wrong. So, if you’ve got other ideas, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
You say Google+ offers big improvements to visibility in search. What metrics are you measuring? What improvements are you seeing?
In Q4 2012, the site had 51% active users. A year later it had 35%. We use Buffer to share content over all social sites, and I can’t honestly remember the last time we had any sort of social interaction on Google+, despite having Business and Local pages…
Claire, many thanks for your comments.
At this stage you’re not going to see big engagement through Google+ and the majority I get is when I post into specific communities, rather than just posting publicly. I would say the majority of active users are using Google+ simply for the impact on search and are just posting content, rather than actively engaging. But that is changing.
With regards to search, Google is desperate for people to engage with the platform and any links you post on Google+ will be indexed immediately and over-ranked. The result is a quicker and stronger performance in Google searches.
I’d also add that I’d make sure you specifically tailor content to G+ rather than posting the same content to multiple sites. It offers more, so generic posts are lost.
I heard you speak briefly about this a few months back and have been playing on the fringes of G+ since then. It hasn’t yet become second nature to post to G+ and I suspect it won’t until I make the big decision to leave my Facebook page behind. It’s that crunch time for letting go of a huge investment of time and energy – admittedly for little ROI.
I really appreciate the advice to post different content to G+. Thanks.
Tilla, many thanks for the comments and I’m glad to hear my speech inspired you to give G+ a go.
With social media it’s important to follow your customers and you should be investing your time into the platforms they are most active on.
As a result, I wouldn’t abandon Facebook if you are seeing some results, just rethink your strategy and look at what they are talking about so you can respond with something that will interest them.
That said, G+ is a must as it will help with rankings and your customers are coming, so establish a strong presence now.