A Google+ Overview: Breaking Through Misconceptions

StephanieFrasco
Stephanie Frasco VP, Social Media, Convert With Content

Posted on April 3rd 2013

A Google+ Overview: Breaking Through Misconceptions

If you only take one thing away from my engagement series, it should be this: each social network is unique in its own way, with its own personality and set of best practices. Knowing how each social network operates is going to give you a head start in your social media marketing by allowing you to connect to your past, present, and future audience in an acceptable manner.

As I continue my engagement series, in the next two posts we will switch focus to Google Plus. Google Plus is the newest of the group, and like it or not, it is Google, and thus should not be ignored. There are tons of rumors floating around about how Google Plus will help you with your SEO rankings. While this may or may not true, it shouldn't be the sole reason to use G+. The reason to use G+ is to connect and converse with your audience.

As the online world we live in gets more and more segmented, it is important to get in touch with each of these networks in a way that will benefit your brand and your audience. Since I have yet to talk about G+ on this blog, let's begin with the basics and progress into how you can use it for engagement.

WHAT IS GOOGLE PLUS?

Google Plus (Google+) is Google's crack at Social Media. It's very similar to Facebook in the sense that all members have their own unique network, and anything and everything within your network will show up in your news feed. In other words, just as Facebook shows you what your friends LIKE, Google Plus shows you what your contacts +1. (Google's "+1" button is their equivalent of Facebook's "like" button.)

One unique factor is Google Plus's feature called "Google Hangouts," which are live streaming video chats that allow you to host more than 2 people within a single chat (which makes it revolutionary, and differentiates it from Skype).

ABOUT G+ DEMOGRAPHICS

Google+ vs. Facebook: social network Guide to Brand Pages

Knowing the audience is going to help you determine how much time to spend here. In general, you want to spend time where your audience is. When it comes to Social Media Marketing, you should allot the largest amount of resources, money, and time where you will get the best results.

Google Plus is:
* 63% male
* Primarily based in the US
* The audience is hard to determine because it is fairly inactive. As everyone with a Gmail account also has a G+ account, it is hard to say how many people actively use it.
* The audience here is quite tech savvy.

WHY IS GOOGLE PLUS SO DARN IMPORTANT?

This is a huge debate in the Internet marketing world. One: it is Google, and Google, whether we like it or not, is the game we are playing. While the network itself might not be as popular or as highly engaged as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, being on Google+ will impact search (which we will get into in later posts). That just might outweigh the fact that your target audience isn't yet on Google+. And who is to say they won't be there in a year or two?

Another reason Google+ is important, and why you should be using it as a tool in your arsenal, is because it is still early. Getting into sites earlier gives you an advantage. It gives you time to work out your strategy and grow your network so that, when the rush of people come, you will be ready to deliver the content they are looking for.

Does Google+ drive traffic? In my experience, for some clients, yes, for others no. Taking a look at this blog's traffic, we have seen some G+ traffic. In general, the traffic has come when it is shared by multiple people via the G+ button on my blog posts. If this blog strikes a cord with a powerful and influential G+ user, then this blog could see a ton of traffic from G+. This is the case with all the BIG 5 networks, which is why it is important to network with Influentials in your industry.

WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT- PEOPLE IN CIRCLE OR +1?

This is another debate in the internet marketing world. The answer is, both are important in their own way. By having your site +1 often, you are going to do two things: a) you will show Google that you are a "real" site that has valuable content, which in turn will increase your search ranking. And b) your content will be shared with many people and, in the right hands, this can give you a lot of traffic, sales, and new followers. An endorsement is always a good thing. By growing your circle, your official content will be seen by more people. As your community grows and becomes more loyal, you might also see more people +1ing and sharing your content.

Create good content and you will see an increase in both +1 and people who add you to their circle.

LOCAL & G+

As Google runs the local search world, it is very important to have a presence on G+. The first thing you should do is claim your place. You want to show up on Google Maps don't you? If you already have a G+ business page here is how you can merge it with Google+ Local.

What kind of content works here? As the audience on G+ is geekier, younger and predominantly male, the type of content that works best is good, smart content. As opposed to Pinterest, which is a photo heavy site, and even Facebook, which is also heavy on the media, the Google+ audience likes to talk. There is no limit to the number of characters in G+, as there is on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, so you could write a novel here if you wanted to. (I'm not sure if that would be the best idea, but it is possible.) Remember, with Google+, and all Social Media in general, Conversations Matter!

Now, just because I said that the written word works well here does not mean you should exclude multimedia. Photos and videos look very nice on Google+ as well.

In my next article, I am going to talk about how you can use Google Plus right now to increase your engagement and see better results.

How do you use Google Plus currently?  Do you have a business page and a personal page?  What questions do you have?

StephanieFrasco

Stephanie Frasco

VP, Social Media, Convert With Content

Stephanie Frasco is a leading social media consultant and author. Over the past 7 years, she's worked closely with clients from all over the world to help them get more results from social media and blogging. Through experience, Stephanie has mastered some of the most powerful social media websites. Download her engagement report.

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Comments

Well done Stephanie!  I belong to a local social media group and it seems like Google+ is the forgotten stepchild.  I'm trying to convince our members that I believe it will be the most important one to be a part of in the not-too-distant future.

Thanks Bob! It could remain the forgotten stepchild.  As I say with all social networks, it is good to have a presence, but most important to spend your resources where it counts.  

Thanks for reading. :) Part 2 is coming out later today. 

I've been using Google+ for a few months and I'm slowly buidling my G+ network.  I agree with your points about it being important.  As for traffic I find this order for me: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.  So I focus a bit more on Facbook and LinkedIn.

That's smart. You should always focus your attention and resources where your audience is and where you are seeing the best results.  Smart thinking! Thanks for reading. 

How do you use Google Plus currently?  Do you have a business page and a personal page?  What questions do you have?

I have a love/hate relationship with G+.

It's partly responsible for my artwork going viral online back during the beta, but these days, "engagement" seems low unless you're posting anti-facebook or anti-apple or you're just regurgitating other people's content (memes, popular photos, etc)

With over 200,000 people having me circled, I'm lucky to get a fraction of a % of that interacting with my posts.

I feel ya Aaron.  Perhaps you should try using some hashtags and joining some artwork communities to share your content with interested parties. Good luck! 

Great Content! You make really great points. I feel that it is so important that a individual and their business be on G+ because it could take off sooner than we all expect. Set up a G+ account for your business and budget in Google Ad Words, and your SEO will sky rocket. No other social network will do that for you. 

Thanks Stephanie.  Good article.

As for myself, I think of G+ as more of an infrastructure to connect a wide variety of services--one of those services being social networking and the cool things that you mentioned that come along with it. In addition, via your G+ account, you can print remotely, send and recieive faxes, collaborate with others on documents in real time, watch YouTube videos in sync with your remote friends (YouTube parties via Google Hangouts) and a lot more.  Facebook is a social media platform, in more of the traditional sense, while G+ is a broader online infrastructure for sharing knowledge where you (or your business) can take care of business, interact with others and find and go to places and things. 

I don't mean to be negative about Google+ but it seems completely useless unless your brand/product is tech related.  And if your brand is in anyway related to Apple or Microsoft -- the hate piles on.  I've all but given up and refocused my efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

Stephanie that's a great piece on social networking I would like to clarify a couple of points however that, unfortunately, add to the misconceptions instead of breaking through them:

1. "In other words, just as Facebook shows you what your friends LIKE, Google Plus shows you what your contacts +1. (Google's "+1" button is their equivalent of Facebook's "like" button.)"  This is not correct. You do not see in your stream in Google+ what your friends +1. You will only see that, possibly, if you go to a specific post and go through each of the people who has +1-ed it, in which case you will see your friends there, or rather the peopl you have circled who are part of your social network on Google+, but it takes a conscious act on the end user's part, it is not served by Google+ the way it is by Facebook.

2. "By having your site +1 often, you are going to do two things: a) you will show Google that you are a "real" site that has valuable content, which in turn will increase your search ranking. And b) your content will be shared with many people and, in the right hands, this can give you a lot of traffic, sales, and new followers." This, also, is unfortunately not quite correct. While Google collates all +1 data, the company has publicly stated that the signal of a +1 is a very weak one indeed because it is difficult to discern the intent behind the action. As a result the number of +1s an article gets is a signal that will not help in that article's ranking in Google's search. In addition, the action of placing a +1 on an article has nothing to do with sharing. That is an entirely different action that requires the conscious choosing to share the article in the Goole+ network. That is a much stronger signal. Google sees the number of shares and analyzes the interaction and this can help increase search ranking as well as deliver visitors to a particular page. 

 

Hi David, 

Thank you for clairifying those things. I really appreciate it.  I would love to talk to you more about the social "signals" - a word I find silly.  I will be in touch. Have a great day. 

I've had a Google+ page account for a while but only recently started getting into using it.

Especially as of late Facebook is prioritising sponsored pages and many posts do not show up in your feed for days.

I am now trying to concentrate more on Google+ and Twitter.

I'm wondering what is the benefit of the +1's for a post?

Hi Stephanie!

Great article, thanks! I was just wondering if there are actual reliable number on G+ users here in the Philippines. I've been wanting to offer G+ management to my clients but i've been hesitant because The Philippines is mostly a Facebook/ Twitter country.

I guess what I'm saying is that, if there is low usage here right now, does it make sense for companies here to use G+ or should they just stick to Facebook, Twitter and IG for the meantime?

Thanks :)

Chuck