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Google Plus, What’s the fuss?

Back in June Google finally announced its new effort in social media, Google+.  Although currently on limited release whilst being tested, it has still managed to receive a lot of attention in a short space of time.

Google+ claims to offer a better user experience than Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter with new features such as ‘Circles’ and ‘Hangouts’.  All designed to offer an easier way of distinguishing between friends, work colleagues and family within a single site.

What are Circles and Hangouts etc…?
Every time you add someone to Google+ you can choose which circle you add them to, creating Circles to suit your needs.  So you might have ‘friends’, ‘work colleagues’ and ‘acquaintances’ and you can choose where you place people, placing them in more than one circle if you choose.  Why?  Well, when you share photos or post status updates you can select exactly who you share it with.  Similar to Facebook ‘friend lists’ but with greater flexibility.

Hangouts is a means of conferencing via the web using your computer’s webcam.  As a colleague put it “hit the ‘hangout’ button, invite who you want, arrange your hair and you’re on air”.   You can invite any number of people to a hangout and it works in a very similar way to Windows Live Messenger but again with greater flexibility for larger groups.  Having used it for the first time this morning I would add that it certainly seems robust yet simple and provides a free way to video conference with your colleagues and friends.

Other features of Google+ include ‘Sparks’, helping you to find interesting content based on your own interests and ‘Huddles’ a group messaging app (like MSN messenger).

Will I like it and why would I bother….?
My first reaction to hearing about Google+ was “but I already use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – why would I want to start up all over again on another social media platform?” and after a few days of playing with it (for the sake of research of course) I decided to ask a couple of users their thoughts , so in their words…

“I like that it’s just like Facebook – so I know where to go and I am familiar with the layout.”

“The circles options is perfect, I hate that everyone can see my posts on Facebook and see how I’m interacting with stuff.”

“I did freak out when I saw my phone images on my Google+ account but quickly realised it was private.”

“Google+ handles photos really nicely. The lightbox display when you click into an image is nice and the comments are visible right there.”

“I like the idea of being in one place for everything ‘social media’ but I guess only time will tell if this becomes my favourite place”

“I use an android phone and Google for my mail etc so this is just an extension to the services I already use with Google.”

But what about Google+ for business…?
You would be mistaken to think that the arrival of Google+ is just for the social media addicts, there is a very real and practical impact that Google+ will have on the online marketing of businesses.  Google have developed the ‘+1’ button in line with the release of Google+ which allows you to ‘like’ individual web pages or entire websites at the click of a button.  The button appears in search listings on google (but only at the moment for gmail users) or can also be placed on individual pages of a website (see www.sufumarketing.com for an example).  The ‘+1’ button is designed to help you discover relevant content to you; it recommends the page to people within their ‘Circles’, and in search listings your search results may be annotated with the names of your connections that have ‘+1’d’ (recommended) a page or website, or the total number of people that have ‘+1’d’ it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the ‘+1’ button will impact your SEO for your business.  The example given by Google is that “a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better.  Because of this, ‘+1’s’ from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query”.

Currently this is something that is being tweaked by Google, along with the many other factors that are taken into consideration in the Google algorithm which directly impacts how your website performs in search engines.

So, is it better than Facebook. Twitter and LinkedIn…?
In my opinion, not necessarily better…..yet! But certainly a huge leap forward in combining a number of social media activities that we have grown to use over recent years into one place.  All I can say is….keep your eye on Google+..

If you’d like to find Sufu Marketing on Google+ you can find us here > http://plus.tl/sufumktg.  You can only register for Google+ by invite during this beta phase so if you’d like us to send you an invite please just drop us a line on the enquiry form and we’d be happy to see you there.

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