Everyone has a strong opinion about Google+. Start a conversation about it and you’ll rarely hear middle ground. People either think it’s a social media gold mine or a ghost town that’s overhyped and full of accounts people don’t use. So which is it? This post explores the history of the toddler social network and explains why it would be foolish to ignore the social side of Mountain View.
Google’s History in Social
Social has been a Google endeavor for nearly a decade. Google+ represents the company’s fourth social initiative and the first to break into the top tier of social networks. Launched back in 2011, G+ represents Google’s social challenge to Facebook, which has long dominated the social sphere in terms of number of users.
While many have asked whether G+ can ever supplant Facebook, an interesting article from PC World says that’s the wrong question to be asking due to Google’s integration of Plus across its full swath of products – making it more of an even contest between Google vs. Facebook. That’s a good point because Google collects a massive amount of information about us – integrating Plus with our Gmail contacts, YouTube channels, Drive, Calendar and more.
Hashtag Search Integration
This Google integration trend has continued with upates like the integration of Plus hashtags into Google Search. As reported by Search Engine Land, when you search Google for a hashtag (such as #marketing), you might see G+ results featuring that hashtag to the right of your regular search results.
That’s all the more reason why you should account for G+ in your social media marketing strategy. If you create top-notch G+ content and select appropriate hashtags, you can potentially show up in hashtag search results. (Tip: Plus will automatically assign hashtags to your G+ posts, so check to make sure these auto-hashtags are relevant; if not, you can delete each of them with a single click.)
While G+ now features an attractive multiple-column design, Harry McCracken from Time described the network as a “beautiful disappointment” because Plus – despite its beauty and creativity – might never be enough to dethrone Facebook as the social magnet that demands our constant attention.
Forgive me if I’m not feeling sorry for Google. They have clearly put a huge amount of resources behind G+; the network will continue to integrate more with other Google products and serve as a central part of Google’s business strategy for the forseeable future. Social isn’t going away and G+ will continue to be an important player despite its skeptics.
If you’re a marketer, the opportunities for better placement in Google search alone should be enough reason to integrate Plus into your content strategy. Even if you’re a member of the Ghost Town camp, you have to admit that Google continues to dominate the search engine market. So why would you want to risk hurting yourself in search by completely ignoring G+?
While I’m not prepared to say that Plus is a gold mine, it should certainly become a part of your overall social strategy.
Authors, Authors Everywhere
Another factor to keep in mind is authorship. By setting up your authorship on your G+ profile and then writing awesome content, you start to establish yourself as an authority for subjects like marketing; this starts to be reflected in search over time as Google recognizes your growing authority in those subjects and rewards you appropriately in search results.
So what do you think about G+? Is it too important to ignore, or an overhyped Ghost Town? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you disagree with me.