If you’re a continuing reader of the Tech PRose blog, chances are you might have seen my earlier post about the introduction of Google+. Having been a member of the up and coming community for more than two months now, I decided it’s a good time for my initial review of the social networking tool.
So here’s a quick synopsis:
Overall: Given that I am in the tech PR industry this might come off as a little biased, but there are a lot of people on Google+ worth following. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of tech reporters and social media pundits that can not only be found on the site, but that are utilizing it to its near potential. Then again, they wouldn’t be techies and enthusiasts if they weren’t early adapters. Speaking of the term “following,” that’s been one of my favorite things about Google+ yet: the fact that unlike Facebook, you don’t have to get too personal and put someone in your friends circle, label them as professional or even an acquaintance. Similar to Twitter, you can simply follow someone to receive their updates and interact with them.
As for the Google+ layout, like any new platform it seems a little confusing at first, but it’s fairly simple to navigate and is equipped with a shortcuts bar. If you’re a Facebook user and one of the thousands complaining about the new interface, the migration into Google+ will be a little nicer for you. You’ll see what I mean. The news feed, status update box and picture boxes are just a few things on Facebook that are now strikingly similar to Google+. It looks like this newcomer was enough to leave some people in Palo Alto shaking in their boots.
B2B: While there are a few corporations that have already taken the plunge into this new social media channel (i.e. Ford for consumer outreach), there haven’t been enough to really see the true benefits of Google+ in terms of B2B. However, there are a lot of great components that can be beneficial for corporations. Here’s the top:
- Circles: Businesses can lump the people they want to follow into specific categories or circles. This will help categorize prospects, partners, influencers and customers. Better yet, it can help companies engage with audiences and deliver targeted messages.
- Hangouts: Much like IM, hangouts and huddles allow two to several people to connect and collaborate at once. Corporations can have employees take part in a huddle for online sharing and collaborating – for free. You can also get more granular and rotate employees in and out of specific hangouts so they only hear what is relevant to them.
- Connect: Similar to LinkedIn, Google+ will recommend people to follow that might either be relevant to your profile or the people you are following. You can also use the search feature to search by company, and it will list all employees that are on Google+ within that corporation.
- Competition: Since Google+ is still in a beta phase, companies should join now to better learn what works and what doesn’t. After all, if you join a network when it’s already established, your mistakes will be all too apparent to the social world. More conservative businesses should at least take notes on what other companies are doing to determine what is successful and what’s not.
- Sparks: This feature is a lot like Google Reader and can help corporations keep up on the news that’s important to them. It can also be an auditing tool of sorts to help companies see who is talking about them.
General Use: I also consider this “mindless use.” This is how I personally view Facebook. After all, aside from the occasional ad click-through people are on Facebook to connect with friends and family, not to negotiate business deals. Like Facebook, Google+ makes it easy to connect with friends and family. Sparks are great for keeping current on things that interest you in and outside of work, and hangouts allow the busy bodies of the world to virtually connect with friends.
Yay or Nay: Overall, the best thing about Google+ is that that you can join and screw up. In fact, you’re expected to make mistakes so Google can learn from you and continue to strengthen the platform before it leaves its beta phase. No one is a master user – yet – so join, follow others, post what you think is worthy and get lost in hangout or two.
Next Steps: As more users sign up for Google+, I am sure there will be more to be said and tested. Google is still making tweaks and rolling out new features during this test phase. Will Google+ ultimately replace Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Friendster and all other social media channels? Doubtful. But it is nice to have an all-in-one destination. And if they want to compete to be the mogul of all things social networking, they should really think of a way to import friends lists from other sites so it’s fast and easy to find connections.
I’d love to hear what all of you other early-adapters have to say, so please feel free to comment away!