Google+ is becoming one of the most important networks in the world and yet most people don’t realise it yet. When it comes to social, informational and professional networks, what crosses your mind immediately? Probably Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Most people don’t recognise Google+ as a competitor. For both brands and consumers, it could be a costly mistake not to take advantage of it early.
Here’s our rundown of why Google+ tops all 3 of the other networks and could end up becoming the dominant force in social media and digital marketing:
1) The Layout
Design is one of the most important aspects for any information and social network. Users want to be able to take in relevant information to them at a glance, and this is where Google+ really comes into it’s own. Although Google+ has been through many facelifts since it’s release in June 2011, the same can also be said for each of the other social networks. The difference however, is that Google take on board their customers feedback and change it according to what they receive. In stark contrast the Zuckerteam for example, seem to just throw around designs / changes and launch them even though the feedback from customers is negative. Remember when Facebook changed the layout a couple of years ago and the backlash they got from that? Even now the update to their “new look” newsfeed that was announced earlier this year hasn’t properly rolled out.
When comparing Google+ to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Google have opted for a layout that has the user in mind. It’s 3 columns wide, which provides more information at a glance than a standard single stream that you get from other networks. Don’t like your stream to be 3 columns wide? That’s no problem. You can change the layout and have it as a single column. Google+ gives YOU the choice and this is where it comes up trumps for us. Not only that, their mobile platform on iOS and Android is a lot better than Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn combined.
It’s the main form of revenue for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This is because the social networks they have are their predominant business. With Twitter having floated on the stock exchange recently and Facebook in the last couple of years, there’s increasing pressure. Shareholders want the value of their dividends raised and that means saturation of advertising to the end user. It also means they need to come up with more innovative ways to get you to “click” on that link for a brand you don’t really care about.
Twitter have recently launched their self serve platform for users in the UK and Ireland, where you can promote tweets or accounts. This is to be used in order to increase your prospects awareness and your follower base, but the psychology behind Twitter is a tricky one. You could find yourself spending anything from €200 all the way up to €10,000 in order to attract new followers, but with a platform that is principally reciprocal – “if I follow you, you better follow me back or I’ll unfollow you” - how can brands ensure their return on investment is sound when it comes to advertising their business on Twitter? It’s not as if you’ll get a refund if the person follows you and then unfollows you. Facebook is different in this respect. Brand pages can’t follow individuals, so there’s no reciprocity expected and as such, fan counts generally grow steadily (when the advertising is targeted at the correct demographic).
Google is in the unique position with Google+, in that it’s not their main source of revenue. In fact ads don’t even exist for Google+ (yet) and that’s because Google has many other streams of generating revenue. Google is valued at around $300 billion (a little over $100 billion shy of Apple) so it’s not under significant pressure to generate revenue by bombarding users with ads. It already makes significant profit from Adsense across a host of different websites, Adwords on it’s search engine along with integrated ads in gmail. This is also expected to rise significantly when Google Glass is released to the masses, which leads us on to our next point.
Android is now the biggest mobile operating system in the world, overtaking iOS by a mile. This is thanks to the fact that it’s open source and many other hardware manufacturers (like Samsung for instance with their Galaxy range) are embracing it as a rock steady system. With Google Glass on the horizon one of the major focuses’s is to share the world around you with friends. Because of that you can bet that Google+ will be at the heart of everything they do with it. From integration with Google Maps, Photo Taking and Sharing all the way through to Google Search and augmented reality games (such as Ingress) Android is showing some innovation that iOS has yet to excel at. How can Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn possibly compete with that?
4) Google+ Hangouts
If you’re not aware of Google+ Hangouts, you should check it out. It’s essentially Google’s messaging service with integrated video calling that you can access on your PC/Mac, smartphone or tablet. Not only does it have text messaging but also 1-to-1 & 1-to-many video calling. This allows businesses to be able to host their own virtual talk/conference and grant access to people from all over the world to join in. You also have the ability to record the Hangout video and upload it directly to YouTube for others to see at a later time. Again Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter don’t have this functionality nailed down, and for networks that pride themselves on interacting through the digital world, it’s quite surprising they haven’t integrated yet. Yes, Facebook has Video Calling, but when’s the last time you used it?
5) Better Photo Tagging
This is also going to be a dominant feature in Google Glass since they introduced the change to their search algorithm last week. When someone for example says “Ok Glass, show me pictures of my family” – Google+ will throw back all of the pictures that have your family members tagged. In Google+ however, they value people’s privacy. When you tag someone in a photo, you’ll get back this message “Adding this tag will notify the person you have tagged. They will be able to view the photo and the related album“. Facebook just doesn’t bother with users privacy, unless you’ve changed your settings and as for Twitter, well you can upload any photo you want and mention complete strangers for all the world to see without them having any control.
6) Managing Your Personal Data & Friends
Have you ever tried to make your entire profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn private? Yep, it’s a no go area. There will always be some parts of your profile visible from your profile picture through to your cover photo. When it comes to Twitter, it’s not hard to access someone’s tweets, followers and following even if they blocked you. Then there’s the big question that’s been circling for years. Who actually owns the data you put onto the social networks? Google+ however makes it pretty easy to get your data back and delete your account. By clicking on your “Account” > “Download Your Data”, you can download all of your data, photos, profile information and contacts. Then just delete your account with the click of a button. It’s that simple.
When it comes to the people you’re connected to, you’re also able to put them into particular “circles” without them having any knowledge of it. You decide who you want in your “Friends Circle”, who’s an “Acquaintance”, who’s from “Work” etc. It gives you the ability to filter out your friends in a much better way than simply having a big repository where everyone is put. Google+ ultimately allows you to see information in the way you want to see it, as opposed to it being decided for you.
7) Google Authorship
Any business these days should have as much visibility on the web as possible in order to increase their SEO. In particular, your site should have regular updated content to inform your customers and news outlets of the changes going on in your business in a positive fashion. It also let’s Google know you have something fresh the world needs to know about. By setting up a Google+ account for the individuals writing the blogs posts, and connecting it to Google Authorship you will increase the visibility and authority of your brand (whether business or just your own blog) on the web. Although Google hasn’t yet ranked pages significantly higher with Google Authorship attached, compared to those that are unattached, it is something will be coming down the line so get on board now. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all focus on the internal content and don’t have anything that rivals Google Authorship. Without a Google+ account, you can’t get it, so that’s another reason to sign up. Check out more about it here
8) You Don’t Have To Pay To Reach People
If you’re on Facebook, no doubt you’ve seen the “Promote Post” option in order to increase your visibility in the timeline of Facebook. Yes, it’s understandable for Businesses that what to get as much visibility on particular posts, such as special offers etc. You may or may not know this, but Facebook doest show your posts to all of the people who you’re friends with. That’s why you have the option to promote it across your entire friends news feed and beyond However, do you honestly want to promote the fact you’re sitting in Starbucks having a Toffee Nut Latte (only available at Christmas and I recommend highly if you haven’t tried it yet) to a world of people you don’t know? Exactly. How does Google+ do it? Once people have put you in their circles, they see your posts. That’s it and that’s the way it should be.
9) GIF’S & Hashtags
Yep, they’re also included in Google+ and provide for some pretty entertaining reading. Facebook don’t allow GIF’s on their platform at all. Twitter do, and even let you use a GIF as your profile picture. In case you don’t know what a GIF is, see below:
When it comes to hashtags, Google+ had in fact introduced them long before Facebook. Although it’s Twitter’s main resource for filtering, Google+ can put it to better use. By using hashtags mixed with the Google search engine, posts on Google+ are more likely to be prominent. This is particularly of use over those of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn when it comes to searching for information on a particular topic.
10) Google Owns The Internet
Really, this is what it boils down to. From Google Search, YouTube, Android, Gmail, Advertising, Google Maps and more Google is dominant force throughout the entire internet. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn thrive on their own internal search parameters, but there in lies the problem. Once you’re on their networks, it’s incredibly difficult to search for information outside of them.
With Google+ using it’s own Google search engine, it opens up a whole other world of information and social sharing. Particularly when it comes to businesses, your SEO will be ranked higher. Businesses are getting no benefit in terms of search engine results by putting all of their effort into Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the ecosphere of information is only contained within those networks.
So what about engagement? Well, when it comes to Facebook you have to wait for your fans to come to you and “Like” your page, before you can engage with them. Twitter on the other hand allows you to engage with anyone who has an open account. LinkedIn is more about groups in specific areas and still needs a lot of work to compete against everyone else.
Google+ encourages engagement across what it is you like with their “Communities”. They recommend posts and pages based on your interests. If you like “cooking” for example, they’ll show you relevant content where you can engage. If you like “Technology” again it’s the same thing etc. Engagement across Google+ is actually a lot more advanced than you might think.
Ultimately, with Google+ it has all of the good from each of the networks. It’s a hybrid of social, informational and professional that can be an incredibly powerful tool for both personal and business use.
How do you sign up? That’s the beauty of it. Chance are you’re already half way there and you didn’t even know. If you have a gmail account, simply click here and you’ll be done in less than 60 seconds. If you don’t have a Gmail account, that’s no problem. You can sign up with the existing account you use on a daily basis by clicking on the same link.
What’s your thoughts on Google+ on the other networks. Share them with us in the comments below.