It was all over social media the last couple weeks. Insiders were quick to change notes about Facebook’s newest competition, Google+. The reviews were in – some people loved it and others not so much. But regardless of what you personally thought, the insider buzz was big enough that you had to really take Google+ seriously. It’s a game changer and for small businesses, it’s one more tool to leverage.
So how is Google+ different than the tools we already use? The answer: it isn’t – it takes what we already do and makes it easier and better, which is the fundamental idea behind emerging technology and web apps.
Google+ is designed for the everyday person and to help that individual better and more accurately connect with their designated social groups. But what I’m going to do is help you understand what Google+ offers, then translate that into how this can help you do better business.
Creating Social Circles – Google+ takes a more sensitive approach to how people use social media, with the understanding that social media shouldn’t be an annoying broadcast that gets streamed to everyone equally. In the case of the individual, Google knows that how you communicate with your friends differs from how you communicate with your family, and how you treat your family and friends might be completely different from how you treat your co-workers or boss. Google+ helps you distinguish these relationships by creating circles and establishing different groups – then engaging with each group uniquely.
You can apply this to your business by separating your clients and colleagues into separate circles. You can even go further and subdivide clients into different categories. In my case, I divide my groups into the different industries I market to and then target what content, updates and messages get sent where. This way I’m also not offending others by wasting their time with updates that have no relevance to our relationship and interests.
Getting Face Time with Google+ “Hangouts” – Google+ nails it with Hangouts, the real time chat app that blows leading competitor, Facebook, out of the water. With Hangouts, you can take your “Circles” a step further and get face time with them. For the average user, this a chat fest opportunity. For you, it’s smart marketing that gets you instant access to your group of people and in turn allows them to access you with greater convenience. Leverage this feature to build better relationships, be available virtually to any of your clients at a moment’s notice and inspire more confidence in yourself as a business owner.
You may be thinking “But I already have Skype.” This is better. Think of how much better people were connected through Facebook. Facebook, and even MySpace when it was still relevant, made keeping in touch easier. With Google+ making face-to-face time easier and more accessible by being placed in a platform you’re already using, you’re guaranteed to be putting your best face forward a lot more often.
Accessing Relevant Content – People like information. The problem is traditional social media routes stream too much information, and most of it is junk. Twitter lets you tame that via lists, but Twitter still doesn’t offer the type of virtual relationships that Facebook does. The problem with Facebook is that I can’t filter the information as easily. I may, for example, follow 15 pages that I find relevant and interesting – but those pages’ content gets lost amidst my hundreds of other “Likes” and friends.
As a solution, Google+ is offering an online sharing engine called “Sparks,” which lets you access highly relevant content across the web, in over 40 languages. All content categories are hand-picked by you, so you control what you see.
If you play your cards right and work to adapt Google+ to your business needs, it can tailor content so that you’re: a) plugged into what’s new in your industry and b) getting content that (when shared) makes you relevant and appealing to your circles.