5 Reasons to Quit Ignoring Google+

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5 Reasons to Quit Ignoring Google+

 

google plus for inbound marketingI’m with John. I can’t say I’ve spent a ton of time exploring Google+, at least not as much as I’ve spent on other social platforms. Like other inbound marketers, I clambered for the elusive invitation to check out Google’s shiny new social network despite my skepticism given Google’s past forays into the social space until I finally scored one from a complete stranger.

After a few weeks of poking around, I kind of forgot about it, not only for the reasons John mentioned earlier this year, but because it seemed like the only people using it were social media/marketing/technology geeks. Networks like Facebook and Twitter grew to mammoth proportions, and then marketers figured out how to use them to reach target audiences. In the case of Google+, marketers flocked to Google+ before their target audiences even got there.

I think it’s best when the public defines the purpose of a social network, and then brands adapt accordingly. Marketers seemed to put the cart before the horse with Google+. Within just weeks of launching and despite messages from Google that many updates were in store, people were touting “expertise” in Google+ marketing. How is that even possible?

It all seemed silly to me, so I stuck it on the back burner. I figured I’d give it time to either disappear or grow before I gave it another serious look. The time to do that is now, if you haven’t already. Google, for better or worse, has made Google+ a channel that cannot be ignored.  And it’s seen impressive growth. Let’s take a look at some stats from Google Blog, TechCrunch and HubSpot:

  • "Student" is the number one occupation of Google+ users, followed by software engineers and consultants
  • The Google +1 button is used more than five billion times per day. (!)
  • Google+ is adding 625,000 new users every day.
  • As of September, there were over 100 million active Google+ users and 400 million total users.
  • Websites using the +1 button generate 3.5x the Google+ visits than sites without the button.

Staggering stats aside, here are five more reasons I and other inbound marketers need to get active on Google+, as its potential for inbound marketing is growing all the time:

  • AuthorRank: If you or your company has a blog, your contributors need to have a Google+ profile. Upcoming changes to Google’s search algorithm will factor in AuthorRank – the popularity and legitimacy of the content posted by individual authors, identified by Google+ profiles. Dan wrote the first of a series of posts about AuthorRank a few weeks ago.
  • Communities: Similar to Facebook or LinkedIn Groups, Communities are a way for users to commune around a common interest. A brief look at the Communities homepage, and you’ll see everything from Nexus 7 Users to Real Estate to Cute Pictures of Cats. And just like on Facebook or LinkedIn, you should check these out to see if there’s a Community related to your brand, so you can listen to your audience or maybe even engage them in discussion. You can create a Community, too. Learn more from HubSpot’s Corey Eridon.
  • Google News Integration: Google has integrated Google+ with many of its other services, and earlier this year, Google News was added to that list. Users can see posts from their Google+ Circles on both the Google News page and the real-time coverage page. If you’re practicing David Meerman Scott’s newsjacking, this could be huge for you.
  • Google Search Integration: Old news, but Google has of course integrated Search with Google+. Users who are logged in to their Google accounts can see if a particular search result has been shared on Google+ by someone in their Circles. You can view it somewhat like a recommendation engine. A user might be more inclined to check out an article if they see someone they know has already read and recommended it.
  • Hangouts: Also old news, but still powerful. Hangouts are arguably the best way to have a face-to-face chat with a group of followers. Granted, those followers will need to be on the more tech-savvy end of the spectrum, but what a great way to host a Q&A, training, demo or focus group.

I came across this interview with Chris Brogan, one of the first and biggest evangelists for Google+, and I really liked what he said about the visual design of the network. It’s a very photo- and video-centric platform, and if you’re monitoring trends in web content, you know that this type of content typically gets the most views and shares. If Pinterest isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what is. 

The bottom line is that Google+ can no longer be ignored. And while the features I discussed above are certainly standouts, the point where I get stuck is that Google+ demands attention not because it’s an awesome user experience and grew organically entirely on its own merit; it demands attention because Google integrated it with its other offerings and has essentially forced people to at least create a profile.

If you’re a Google+ fan, personally or professionally, I want to hear from you. Why do you love it? What is your advice to other inbound marketers about the power of Google+? Do you truly love it for its functionality, or are you using it because you feel you have to? Comment below!

Photo credit: west.m


Meghan SullivanWith a decade of marketing experience, Meghan Sullivan is a Senior Consultant at Kuno Creative and is passionate about developing and executing inbound marketing strategies for her clients. When she’s not doing that, she’s probably curled up on the couchwith her dog and iPad, or exploring Cleveland’s incredible food scene. Connect with Meghan on Twitter or LinkedIn.



Comments

I scored an invite early on, like you, and then did nothing on the network for quite a while. Recently, AuthorRank and other reported SEO benefits got me back into posting more regularly, sharing my site's content, etc. Also, the population on G+ has grown, as you have shown, making it seem like there's more "action" now.  
 
As a user I am starting to find I am liking it more than Facebook. It is easy to use, looks good and Google+ has no EdgeRank type throttling. I think you nailed it with this post and Google+ will continue to grow in popularity and importance.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 11:36 AM by Chuck Malcomson
Thanks, Chuck! You make a really good point about EdgeRank, which also has me thinking about Facebook's recent changes with regard to that and Sponsored Stories. Many marketers are finding Facebook's new pay-to-be-seen model quite frustrating.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 11:47 AM by Meghan Sullivan
The problem for me is; that after so many years of using FB, Google+ doesn't seem as intuitive to use. It still remains a mystery to me. 
 
I think Google+ will require more training...time that I don't have.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 11:59 AM by Jerry
I think a lot of people feel that way, Jerry. It's gotten to the point where the idea of learning yet another social network is less appealing, for both users and marketers.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 1:11 PM by Meghan Sullivan
I have found that google+ allows you to build an audience in ways similar to Twitter. However, the engagement seems better with comment structure and greatly expanded message section (more than 140 characters and images). I am more selective about my google+ content compared to twitter and I found that the "follow-back" is much lower. It's still a good use of time, especially considering all fo the big benefits you listed. 
Posted @ Sunday, December 30, 2012 12:37 PM by Dr. Joe Schaefer
Google+ is now my preferred social network. I find that the content people publish is somewhere between Linkedin and Facebook. There is a nice balance between the personal and professional posts. 
 
I really get frustrated with Facebook's edgerank algorithm, it doesn't seem to make any sense. Posts seem to move up and down each time you visit making it hard to find what you are looking for. I can't remember how many times someone has said to me "did you see my facebook post this morning?", and when I go looking for it, it's buried way down with posts from last week or the week before. Infuriating! 
 
By the way, have you checked out the Google+ iPad app. It's brilliant and so visual. 
 
Cheers, 
Ken
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 4:32 AM by Ken
Yes, Ken! The iPad app is beautifully designed! And I agree that EdgeRank is frustrating, especially with recent changes that all but force brands to sponsor content in order to maintain views. My personal experience with Google+ has been lacking in personal content. My sphere just hasn't really gotten into it, so there just hasn't been enough content (or enough variety) to keep me coming back regularly. I'd love to see that change.  
 
Joe, great point that the culture is somewhere between Twitter and Facebook. There is certainly a more open connection culture that is similar to Twitter.  
 
Thank you both for your comments!
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 8:08 AM by Meghan
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