Google+: Misunderstood or Underestimated?
I get a lot of questions on Google+. “Anne, what do you think of it? Do you think translators should be on G+ as well? Does it bring anything for business?”
Guys, you should not even ask yourselves this question. Of course I think you have to be on Google+. There are many reasons, but the biggest one – that alone should suffice to convince you – is that it will boost your Google ranking. Well yes, it is, after all, a product from Google itself and as such, its ranking on the search engine beats the ones of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or Wherever Else You Are. That means you should seriously consider being on Google+ too. Not to mention these +1 buttons popping up a bit everywhere on the Web. Are you aware that the more +1′s a page gets, the highest its Google ranking?
I can hear you sigh / whine / scream (you pick) “Oh God, yet ANOTHER Social Network”. Such reactions have been flowing on Facebook and Twitter.
Well yes. Yet another network. And just like Social Media in general, you should not bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening because it’s happening anyway, with or without you and whether you like it or not. Google+ is here and is here to stay. The good news is, no one forces you to register on Google+. What I express here is just my opinion on why I reckon you should nonetheless, but at the end of the day, it is obvisouly your choosing.
So Google+ is in my eyes completely misunderstood. People keep insisting on comparing it with Facebook. Hey, stop. They are not comparable. True, it seems Google + was started with the clear goal to become the new Facebook and relegate Zuckerberg’s network second. That was an ambitious project: when G+ was released in Beta phase last July, Facebook had largely hit the 750 millions users. It has been there for years anyway and is much more mature. No discussion there on the superiority of Facebook.
The beginning of the Beta phase, where people could get to G+ on invitation only, was marketing genius. Curiosity, together with this “exclusive” side (yay, I got an invite!), plus also with maybe boredom from some Facebook users, drew 20 millions to G+. That was a lightning-fast rise and then suddenly, like a balloon, it decreased and seemed to stagnate. I remember reading somewhere at the beginning of September that around 80% of the profiles created were inactive. Wow. Some started to bury Google+. Comments from my contacts on Facebook or Twitter were along the lines of “Google+ is dead”, “Google+ is empty”, etc.
Well. It’s not that simple. Those 80% something people who rushed into G+ before quickly deserting it expected there a new Facebook – and rightly so, as it was more or less the announced goal. But here’s the thing: you can’t expect loyal Facebookers to desert their accounts there (that the’ve had for 3-4 years) with all their photos, apps, friends, etc. And you can even less expect all their friends to follow. They’re too busy playing Farmville. Nor can you expect them to “clone” their Facebook profile on their G+ account. What’s the point of it? I already have all my friends on Facebook, I don’t need to have them on Google+ as well. I already share with them what I want on Facebook, why would I reshare it with them on Google+? Why share the same things in 2 places with the exact same contacts? Pointless.
So in that way, yes, Google+ “failed”. But, hey, ultimately, it’s the users who make the network. Now tell me: if we really did not need yet another Social Network (sigh/whine), do you think the people who came on G+ from the very beginning and have been using it every day during the entire Beta phase would have stayed and loyally using it for 3 months if it did not bring them something different than Facebook and Twitter?
The answer is no.
When G+ was Beta released, it was a newborn. Everything was to be defined, the unwritten etiquette, the unwritten codes that every network has. Users came in to a blank new territory and they did with it what they wanted it to be. They used this new playground in the way they wanted to use it. Differently from the other networks. Ultimately it’s the users who made G+: it just took a different path than the one that was originally planned.
So today Google+ is nothing like Facebook – which is why any comparison is obsolete and stupid. And I can hear you ask “Ok, maybe. But what is it then?”
Well, to me, Google + is somewhere between Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook is totally out of the way. Don’t be afraid, Facebook. Google+ and you are not playing on the same segment (anymore).
Google+ has quickly evolved to be a network where you can exchange with complete strangers (like Twitter), without having to “intrude” – you can choose to add them to your circles but they don’t have to add you back at all for you to see their updates. Sounds familiar? It is. It’s the Twitter model. “I follow you because I’m interested in your updates, but you don’t have to follow me back. As you want.” Yet another huge difference with facebook where you’re supposed to connect “with people in your life”. Facebook rules forbid to send Friends requests to complete strangers, did you know that? Recently Google+ released its hashtag feature as well, making the network even more a sort of a super-Twitter.
That’s one point. But then what’s the difference between Google+ and Twitter? I see 2 major differences:
1. on G+, you don’t have a 140 characters limitation
2. unlike Twitter, it is not like some huge room where everybody is shouting and talking at the same time
(A 3rd difference was the real name policy on Google+ - you have to use your real name, you can’t hide behind a Justin Bieber pseudonym. IMO it's a pity that this policy disappeared because that may impact on the quality of the network)
Aha. But hang on. Comparing LinkedIn to Google+, that’s daring… Well you’re right. LinkedIn is a pure business network with amazing and powerful business networking tools that G+ does not have, no questions asked. But the LinkedIn etiquette, unwritten, dislikes it when you’re inviting strangers to your network – you’re taking the risk of being perceived as a spammer. Besides, they need to accept your invite if you want to see their full profile, recommendations, and updates. And since they have no idea who you are, most of them will not accept.
So in short: on G+, you can follow complete strangers without requiring them to follow you back and without sending them any invite that they’d need to approve, which is lik Twitter, but unlike Twitter you can also select precisely who sees what, making it the only social network where you can have one account while maintaining an easy and clean business/personal separation.
Yes, you read that right. I consider Google+ a business network. 90% of my contacts on G+ are potential business contacts who are either in my LinkedIn network (why would they, we’re already connected on G+, it’s more informal and it’s more simple to exchange stuff on G+), nor in my Twitter contacts (why would we follow each other on Twitter? I can get their full updates, without the 140 characters limitation, andwhat they post doesn’t get lost in the jungle of tweets, with a few minutes life duration and 60% chances that I never see them).
That article is already long anough, so I will maybe not go into the details of what Google+ individual features can do for your business. But just take the example of Hangouts: where else can you make video-calls (conference calls…) for free with up to 10 people? Video calls that you can even record, keep and share.
Watch out though: just having a nice profile on G+ is not enough – just like on any other Social Network.You need to be proactive: post content, recommend content, engage, search people relevant to your keywords (leads, prospects, colleagues) and add them to your circles. Most will add you back, because this is the same mentality / etiquette than Twitter where most users follow back when you follow them. Build a large network on G+ and interact with it. The more they +1 your content, the highest its visiblity. The more they engage with you, the best it impacts your overall online influence.
Last but not least, Google+’s user-friendly, clear and simple interface makes it an extremely comfortable tool and the pace on the G+ timeline is much slower than anywhere else, which is really relaxing and gives plenty of time to read the latest news from your contacts. Which in other words is: more visibility for your content. Wow. Think of that. Your content does not only gets better Google ranking than anywhere else, but it’s also more visible there than anywhere else.
I really think Google+ is here to stay – that is if Google lets it develop in that "super-Twitter/Linkedin direction and gives up on the idea of making it some sort of competitor for Facebook. That would be a pity. Google has something there, something user-defined and that could really lead to a major success and finally open the social networking doors to the search giant.
Wait and see. But consider joining G+ while waiting. If that network ever becomes another loud room where everybody is shouting and talking at the same time, then you may want to join it and enjoy its quiet before it turns so. This won’t be wasted time.
[This is an updated version of the original article posted on my company's blog the very day Google+ became public. http://gxplanguageservices.wordpress.com ]
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