Google+ A Valuable Tool For Small Business?

google+

 

There’s been a lot of talk in my circles (no pun intended) over the past week or so about Google+.

Will Google+ last?

“What is Google+?”

“Can you send me an invite please?”

“How do I get an invite?”

“How is it any different to Facebook?”

“What’s the point of it?”

“Will it take off?”

What is Google+?

I know that most of you already know what it is but I have had a few people ask, so for those few…at it’s most basic, Google+ is a new social network which has been dubbed “Google’s answer to Facebook”.  There was a limited release of  a Beta (test) version in late June.

You may have noticed the Google +1 button appearing on Google searches and some blog posts – including this one.  This is all part of the total project which according to Mashable “turns all of the search engine into one giant social network.”

There is a lot of information about Google+ so I don’t intend going into it in detail.  If you want more, I suggest you have a look at Mashable.

It works a lot like Facebook, allowing you to share photos, news, updates and other information with your friends.  It has some fun features like Huddle allowing you to have a group chat with a bunch of friends and Hangout which is kind of the same thing but with video and chat.  I’m sure more features will be added over time.

How do I get an invite?

You need to be invited by someone who already has a Google+ account or receive a Field Trial invitation from Google  if you have a Gmail account.  Each person gets a few “invites” when they join but in my experience these are grabbed fairly quickly, hence the begging and pleading for invites that you may have seen going around.

The other interesting thing is, if you want a Google+ account or want to use the Google +1 button,  you will first need a Google Account.

How is it any different to Facebook?

It does look similar and it does similar things but personally  I like the visual elements of “Circles” and “Hangouts”.  There’s an article in PC Mag ” 6 Things Google+ Can Do That Facebook Can’t” and it cites:

  1. Easily share photos, link, post with select friends (not everyone)
  2. Plan event details with live video chat
  3. Watch a YouTube video in real time with friends
  4. Curate content based on your interests
  5. Instantly upload photos and videos to the cloud and decide later how to share them
  6. Quit ( have you ever tried to delete your Facebook profile?)

What’s the point of it?

For Google, there’s a very big point.  It needs to get in the social networking game in a big way.  Advertising dollars also plays a big part.  Targeted advertising in Facebook is excellent and Google needs to be able to compete.

From a user perspective though, is it just another time wasting social network?  Perhaps.  It’s too early to tell but after just one week, I can see it replacing Twitter for me personally and I do love Twitter.  I can also see it replacing Facebook over time. I’d love a single social network that allows me to do everything from one place and Google+ is shaping up to deliver that.

What about as a business tool?  I like that I can set groupings of “friends” and decide who sees what content.  It means I can share my personal photos, posts and news with friends but not with my business networks.

As an online coach and business consultant, I can see the Hangout and Circles being very useful for running group coaching and training. It may well replace Skype for video calls.  I love that I can quickly and easily curate content in one place.

Those are the benefits I can see after just one week of very limited use.  I’m sure there are many people out there already working away at being the Google+ equivalent to Facebook expert Mari Smith 🙂

Will it take off?

I was lucky enough to get an invitation about a week ago (thanks Mark).  When I first signed up, it was really quiet.  I did think “what’s the point?”.  It reminded me of when I first joined Twitter and didn’t get it 😉

One week on and it is suddenly busy!  I keep finding more and more people I know or know of.  I don’t think there are any official stats from Google but I’ve seen estimates of close to 5 million.  Facebook has around 750 million.

I’m an early adopter of technology so I love it if for no reason other than that it’s new!  Yes, I’m attracted to Bright Shiny Objects.

According to a Mashable poll, 47% of the 8,300 respondents voted “I absolutely love it and can’t wait to play with it”. It will be interesting to see how poll results after a few more people have had the chance to play.

It’s early days, but I think it’s going to be HUGE!

What do you think?
If you have a Google+ account, let’s connect here.
If you like this post please share it and +1 it 😉

12 Responses to Google+ A Valuable Tool For Small Business?

  1. Adonis July 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    You talked me into it…just signed up. 🙂

    • Suellen Hughes July 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      Hooray! Another opportunity for us to communicate “virtually”. Soon we won’t need to talk F2F at all!

  2. Robin Dickinson July 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Thank you for this excellent summary, Suellen. I’m checking it out and will report back my findings! 🙂

    Best,

    Robin

    • Suellen Hughes July 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Thanks Robin. I’m looking forward to hearing your views. I know that you will be deconstructing it as you go so do hope you’ll share.

  3. Bridie Jenner July 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    I’ve been “in” for about a week now and quite enjoying the experience. As you said, it was incredibly quiet to start with and I was really wondering what the point was! But I like the idea of having different circles that you can share information with, or not, and I think it will be interesting to see what they come up with in terms of business profiles.

  4. Jen Brown July 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I have had it for about a week or so. I played with it for the first day or two but, like you, found it very quiet as a lot of people I knew didn’t seem to be on it (or I hadn’t found them). You’ve convinced me to perserve with it. Unlike you, I am a late adopter which might explain a few things 😉

    Regards
    Jen

  5. Leonie July 15, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    I’ve been on for a week or so too. The only thing I don’t like is that people I don’t know can add me to their circles, which several coach/guru type people were quick to do, presumably with the intention of sending out their pitches. And while their communications aren’t visible in my stream unless I click to view them, it’s just a bit annoying that they can do this. Perhaps there’s something in the privacy settings that would allow me to prevent that happening – I haven’t looked into that yet. Other than that, it looks good.

    • Suellen Hughes July 21, 2011 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Leonie,

      How are you finding Google+ now that you’ve been on a little longer?

      I know what you mean about random strangers adding you to their Circles. I wonder whether this will reduce once more people start using it? I know at first I added a few people I didn’t know because I wanted to have someone to interact with. As you say, at least you don’t have to see what they’re posting unless you choose to.

      Did you find a way to change your privacy settings to prevent it?

      Thanks for commenting
      Suellen

  6. Wendy Ager July 21, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    I’ve been on Google+ for a few weeks and it feels like starting my whole online networking over again. Putting those on LinkedIn into ‘circles’ as business contacts and the same with my Twitter followers.

    There are people I don’t know requesting to connect with me but I’ve struggled to find out who they are to see if I should and what circle to put them in. I am trying to keep up but to put my 2000 Twitter Followers, 400 connections on LinkedIn and 200 Facebook fans into new categories feels like a mammoth task and I’m already losing interest!

    However, I don’t want to get left behind if this turns into something big!

    Wendy Ager

    • Suellen Hughes July 21, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      Hi Wendy,

      Yes it does feel like starting over! I suppose it is. It’s a good way to have a “spring clean” of your social networks 😉

      Why do you want to add all of your Twitter, FB, LI connections to Google+ ? At the moment I’m still using all of these social networks but I’m not going to spend a lot of time adding people from other networks until I’m sure I will use Google+

      I love your honesty about not wanting to get left behind! It definitely has the feel of being “the next big thing” right now.

      Cheers
      Suellen

  7. Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging July 22, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Yeah, I want to hang out and/or huddle with you:)

  8. Charley July 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I concur with all of the above. My biggest hesitation is time. I just dont have time to do all the things Iam doing now with FB and twitter AND learn and set up something new. Ive actually been using google apps/docs etc for a while so I am interested in going down this road. I just need a time (generating) machine!

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