By now, most of you are already on Google Plus — either using profiles, or pages, or both.
But others might be waiting for a little nudge in the right direction. Maybe you’re happy with Facebook and don’t see why you should invest more precious time on yet another network.
I interviewed Jesse Stay, author of the brand new book Google+ for Dummies. Jesse has written other books about Facebook, including Facebook Application Development for Dummies. Despite his huge investment in Facebook (as a developer and a book author), he can tell you why Google+ is all the rage.
The two sides of Google+
Patricia: Jesse, for those who haven’t quite warmed up to Google+, explain what the heck it is, and how it fits into our already crowded world of online communication.
Jesse: There are two sides to Google+. There’s the consumer side and then there’s the business side.
It’s mostly on the consumer side where I think a lot of people have not warmed up to Google+. They’re posting content, but they don’t see anyone commenting on their posts, and they don’t see any activity. They’re also not seeing their close friends and family, so they’ve left, or stopped using Google+ altogether.
In my book, Google+ for Dummies, I talk about how you can address this problem and turn it into a positive experience. Google+ is a great networking tool for you to build new connections, make new friends and meet new people that you may not have been able to contact before.
But most importantly, Google+ is not just a social network; it is a feature of Google as well. Google is looking to integrate it into every single one of its products, and I think down the road it will be built in by default into Google products. In fact, you’re already seeing this if you look at the latest version of Android — it has Google+ installed by default.
Patricia: On the consumer side of Google+ there has been a charge that it is attracting certain kinds of people and not others (e.g., techies like yourself, social media experts, celebrities, and men in general). Have you noticed any specific demographic patterns congregating on Google+?
Jesse: Yes, there are specific demographics that Google+ is attracting, and this is normal with any new social network. We saw it on Facebook where initially Facebook attracted the college student community. Twitter attracts celebrities and news media, and techie people as well.
Google+ is actually attracting a similar type of audience as Twitter. You’re seeing celebrities, the news media are starting to get involved in it as well, and for some reason Google+ has really attractedphotographers as well.
Why you should care
Patricia: What makes Google+ unique, and why should people really care about it?
Jesse: From a consumer standpoint, if Google+ is just another platform to play with, then you don’t have much of a reason for being there — you may actually want to step back from it.
My book will help you figure out if you need the network or how to grow your professional network once you’re already there. Also, if you use Google products and you need better ways to share them, then Google+ is the place to do that.
From a marketing standpoint, it’s a great tool that you should definitely consider because of search. Right now Google+ is integrated with Google search. If you have a marketing consulting website, for example, and you integrate Google’s +1 button onto your website, when people +1 your content, that content will appear in Google search results, followed by a list of your friends who +1’d or shared it.
This makes your website stand out to others (social proof). Also the more +1’s your website (content) has, the higher it will rank in Google search results.As a marketer, if you want to increase your audience, Google+ is an additional option; it’s not something that’s going away, it’s something that growing.
Patricia: Google just had its biggest traffic week ever in the last week. Did that surge have anything to do with the launch of its business pages?
Jesse: That’s correct, they just recently launched what they call Google+ Pages, which are its business pages, and are the equivalent of Facebook pages.
Google+ Pages give your business a presence on Google+. Once you set up the page, you can post content as your business, and people can “circle” you, which is the equivalent of a follow on Twitter. To circle you, all they have to do is to check a box that allows your updates to appear in their news stream.
In addition, you can put a badge on your website that ties your site back to your Google+ Page. Google is working toward making this an automatic feature in the future, so that when you have your Google+ badge on your site and you’ve created a Google+ Page, when people go to Google search and they type ”+“ and your business name, it will automatically take them to your Google+ Page. So that’s a powerful feature as well.
Patricia: A lot of small businesses are stretched for resources and are going to have a hard time managing many social platforms. What do you say to the person who is heavily invested in Facebook? Can they get a bump in traffic with Facebook alone?
Jesse: They definitely can. If you only have the energy and the resources for Facebook, then stick with Facebook if it’s working for you — you don’t have to go to Google+. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
But if you’re looking for additional ways to expand your audience or expand your growth, you may want to consider Google+. There are numerous tools out there — the cheapest one that I’m aware of if Hootsuite.com, which integrates with Google+ and you can add multiple Google+ Pages to your Hootsuite account, along with your Facebook pages, and then manage everything from one central location.
The Google+ user experience
Patricia: That’s an excellent tip. Talk about the different features on Google+ and tell us how the user experience on Google+ is different from the user experience on Facebook.
Jesse: The user experience on Google+ is going to be a lot simpler than Facebook, partly due to the fact that they just launched. So when you get on to Google+, you’re not going to have the filtered news feed like you have on Facebook. Facebook organizes your news feed and puts similar posts next to each other. If you have the summarized feed, it will even try to summarize your feed for you into top news, and so on. You’re not going to see that on Google+.
In addition, on Google+ it’s a one-way relationship on each side — so if you want to follow someone or follow someone’s updates, you circle them instead of “friending” them, and that will put their content, or at least their public content, into your news stream. Now if they circle you back and they target updates to that circle, then you will still get those updates in your news stream.
However, if they target updates to another circle that you’re not in, you won’t get these updates in your news stream. I guess circling would be similar to subscribing on Facebook.
Patricia: Do you predict that Google’s +1 button is going to be a hot commodity; perhaps even overtaking Facebook’s “like” button as the social media currency?
Jesse: You know, I think “like” is a more generic term, although Google is really trying to brand its +1 button. I have a feeling that “like” is still going to hold its value.
Patricia: Do you see any chance of Google+ being a paid service in the future?
Jesse: No. I don’t think Google+ itself will be a paid service. But where I do see paid services occurring is in Google Apps, which they recently integrated into Google+. Google Apps is the product that they sell to businesses for allowing better communication within a business environment.
And they just launched Google+ in the Google apps where you can now target updates just to your company and your company’s network. So your company becomes a unique circle that can see the content that you target to them specifically.
But even with that Google is not charging anything extra if you already have a Google Apps account.
Shortcomings of Google+
Patricia: Jesse do you have any criticisms against Google+ so far?
Jesse: Yes. I think Google+ has a ton of potential, and I think it’s already seeing tremendous results. But one concern right now is how to get people’s close friends and family aboard. It’s just not a big enough network, and it’s just not active enough for that to happen.
But I think things will change as Google+ grows, and for now there are still ways to use it as a productive and valuable tool.
Patricia: Jesse, it’s been a great conversation, but unfortunately we have run out of time. Before we go, where can people find you online if they want to get in touch with you?
Jesse: You can find me on my blog at Staynalive.com. You can also follow me on Google+ if you go to profiles.google.com/jessestay, or you can search for Google+ for Dummies on Amazon.com, and you can find me through there, too.
Patricia: We’ve been talking to Jesse Stay, the author of Google+ for Dummies. Be sure to pick up your copy at Amazon.com. Jesse, it’s been a pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Thank you all for listening.
Jesse: Thanks Patricia.
Over to you: What do you think of Jesse’s perspective on Google+ as a marketing platform? Please leave your comments in the box below.