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Google+, Explained (Part 1 of 2)

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Terry DohertyBy Terry Doherty

(Blog Moderator’s Note: There is so much to say about Google Plus that we’ve divided Terry’s Goggle Plus blog into two posts. This post introduces Google Plus. In her next post, Terry talks more about how to make the most of this multifaceted platform.)

Verbs: plus, plus 1,
Users: n/a
Launched: June 2011

— A social sharing platform that incorporates microblogging, sharing images, and real-time chat and video.
— A suite of tools that can centralize your online presence, both as an individual and a company.

google plusGoogle Plus (also known as Google+ and G+), is the kitchen sink of social media platforms. It is a “cross” between Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and blogging.

Where Google Plus truly sets itself apart are the robust profile, circles (v. friends), and video Hangouts. The fact that these assets are tied to Google’s primary product – its search tool – cannot be minimized. (Especially for those of us who get headaches when someone says “search engine optimization.”)

At a time when Facebook is making it harder for brands to engage with their fans, Google Plus is making it easier. With pages and communities businesses can share what they want, when they want, with whom they want. Everything can be “public” or you can share content with people in specific circles (which you set up and control).

The Benefits

Let’s start with circles. When you want to connect with someone – friend or follow in Facebook and Twitter vocabulary – you add them to a circle. Circles allow you to segregate your content to specific audiences. You define what the circle is and who goes there. People can be in as many circles as you want. The names of my circles aren’t published so no one knows what circles they are in.

Remember the problem of cross-posting personal and business information on Facebook? Not a problem with Google Plus. When you post something on your profile or page, you can decide with whom you want to share it.

One of the best things about using Google Plus is that you don’t have to learn a lot of new stuff. A lot of the same tips and techniques that you’ve learned for other platforms work here. You can

— use Hashtags in Google Plus (like Twitter);
— tag people AND pages (similar to Facebook); and
— start video chats (like Skype).

critical-item-profileIn essence, Google Plus takes a tool that works (e.g. Skype), and then integrate it without asking their users to recreate the wheel (e.g., Hangouts). As someone who is time-crunched and overwhelmed with accounts and passwords, that is mighty appealing.

Here’s another time saver. With most social media platforms, you can share just one “extra” link. Google Plus welcomes them all. A Google Plus profile incorporates links to your website, all your social platforms, and the blogs I write for. For those who understand SEO (search engine optimization), that is instant reciprocal linking which helps with search results. SEO is not my thing and frankly I don’t have time to learn.

The Limitations

Pervasiveness. Google started with search but now has a suite of products (Gmail, YouTube, Google Plus, ChromeTV, et al) that give users a fully-integrated online experience for work and home.

With this much integration the level of dependence on Google and its products jumps significantly. It can feel like a monopoly … and yet it is what our information-overloaded lives want: one-stop social living.That makes some people uncomfortable.

If someone adds you to their circles, you don’t get to see what they post about unless you add them to your circles.

The Goals

Google+ is a fully integrated social service that draws on the best or most-effective aspects of other platforms and pulls them into one interface. It has tools for sharing and curating content with text, photos, and video. Google Plus makes discoverability easy.

— Everything you do on Google Plus feeds the Google search engine.
— You establish authorship and expertise with a virtual resume.

For those who haven’t yet invested heavily in social media, Google Plus can give you lots of options in one place. Sharing content is easy and can be as laser-focused or broadcast as widely as you want. Circles and communities give you two tools for connecting with people who share your interests and/or expertise.

We’ll talk more about communities in our next article.

Fun Facts

— Available in 42 languages
— In 2012, the +1 (plus One) button was served more than five BILLION times a day.
— Sites with a Google +1 button across their site generate 3.5 times more visits to their Google Plus Page than those without the button.
— Active Google Plus users spend 60 minutes a day across Google products (G+, YouTube, Blogger)
— It took 18 months for Google Plus to reach 235 million daily active users. It took Twitter 6½ years to get to 200 million daily active users.

Reading Worth Your Time

3 Compelling Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google Plus by Jay Palter, Business2Community.com (November 2013)
Google Plus for authors by Terry Doherty, Slideshare (February 2014)
Google Plus Tips Guide by Martin Shirvington, PlusYourBusiness.com (November 2013)
Using Google Plus Hashtags for Your Personal Brand by Maria Elena Duron, Personal Branding blog (August 2013)

Terry DohertyAbout the Author: Terry Doherty is a voracious reader with a keen analytical eye and a lifelong passion for writing. Combine a passion for reading and kids, a natural affinity for analysis, and a love of solving puzzles, and you’ve got Terry.

Before becoming a Mom in late 2001, she spent nearly 20 years as a research analyst, supervisor, mentor, trainer, and analytical program manager with the federal government. She has drawn on her acclaimed expertise as a national security analyst in her roles as senior editor and publishing director for an independent house; and mentor for both her consulting business & flourishing literacy nonprofit.

Now, she uses those extensive skills in research, analysis, writing, editing and interpersonal communication, in three roles: Mom; Executive Director of The Reading Tub®, a family literacy nonprofit; and Director of New Media & Alumni Education for the Mom’s Choice Awards.

Terry is a dedicated, lifelong student, always eager to share her expertise with those eager to learn. She heartily ascribes to Thomas Jefferson’s statement: “I cannot live without books.” Learn more at maestromarket.com.

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