Why You Should Be Gaga for Google+




By Carl Weiss

English: Google plus one
English: Google plus one (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has been called everything from an online ghost town to one of the best social networks ever invented for small businesses.  But there is one thing that neither pundits nor detractors can deny.  That is, Google+ is the only social network in the world directly operated by the world’s most popular search engine.



An Extension of the Google Brand


Sure, G+ was invented strictly because Facebook’s popularity was a threat to the 800 lb. gorilla in the room named Google.  But far from being its downfall, the me-too look and feel of Google+ did not come about by accident.  When designing the company owned social network, the nerds at Google took a look at what worked and what didn’t work on other search engines.  Then they used the best and discarded the rest.  This is one of the reasons that starting a G+ account is so easy to do.  There isn’t a lot of time spent on learning how to use the thing.

Got a gmail account?  Simply log into Google and hit the (name)+ button and away you go.  After filling out profile information and uploading a photo, you’re ready to start friending.  Since G+ is a search engine, anyone already registered with Google can be brought up and added just by typing in their name and hitting enter.  After adding them to your circles Google will inform your friends that you are now linked to them.  (More on how to capitalize on this later.)

So far it seems a lot like Facebook, right?  Well it is and it isn’t.  It is in that using G+ and Facebook are similar.  But Google+ has a lot more to offer a business owner.  Remember Google Local?  This is the local listing engine that used to be a standalone facility on Google. It was folded into G+ several months ago.  In fact, there is a button on the left side of the G+ homepage that accesses this area.  But that’s not all that you are able to access there.  You can also access and update your Google Calendar there.  You can view and upload photos and videos there.  More importantly, you can also start a Hangout there.

Hangouts
Hangouts (Photo credit: AJC1)
What is a Hangout?  It’s a free video chat facility that you and eight of your closest friends can inhabit at the push of a button.  No software to download.  No cumbersome codes to email.  To spawn a hangout all you have to do is hit the Hangout tab on the G+ homepage and hit “Start a Hangout.”  You can’t miss this button since it’s at the top of the page in red.  Once you hit it, all you need to do to populate it is to enter the names of the people you want to hang out with in the dialog box at the top of the page and hit invite.  Within seconds they will receive your invitation and with one click of the mouse can join you via video.  (You can also screen share with Hangout as well.)  When you consider that using other videoconferencing systems online can cost upwards of fifty bucks per month, this is a real bargain.  At our office we routinely use Hangout to interface with clients and prospects.  Who needs to drive across town when you can spawn a virtual meeting?

Other G+ Features


There are a lot of other features that make Google+ a breeze to use.  Everything is fully editable.  It is also fully searchable.  You can drag and drop videos from your computer or from Youtube in seconds.  Best of all, using G+ will enhance your SEO worthiness since it is owned and operated by Google.  It isn’t at all unusual for a properly optimized Google+ post to wind up on page one of Google.

And don’t believe all the propaganda about G+ being a ghost town.  Sure, it doesn’t have a billion users like Facebook, but it does have more than 100 million active monthly users.  This is hardly an insignificant figure by anyone’s calculation.  When it comes to employing a social network that is easy to use and offers so many free features that business people would otherwise be required to pay and it isn’t hard to see why so many people are gaga for Google+

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Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.

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