On June 28, Google launched what it calls a “ Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web. I got an invite last Thursday night and having tried it out for the past three days here are some initial thoughts.
- Circles : Just like Facebook allows you to add friends into groups, in Google Plus you add them to “Circles”. The usability of the feature is very good, enabling easy addition of friends and colleagues to circles. You can label the circles anything you want. You can add people who are not in Google+ and they receive your update by email.
- Sparks : This is like your news reader. Type in a few keywords and get the news from different sources. I added the keywords “small business”, “mobile technology and, of course, “Network Solutions” (company I work for). You can share the news you find.
- Hangout: I have not tried this option on the desktop as I am having issues installing the plugin to Chrome (required) Basically it is a way for people to “hangout” using audio and video – streamed chat room. Seems like a good way to connect with your clients or employees.
- Upload photos and Video: You can drag photos or videos from your desktop into the status update box and publish it to your circles. Easy way to achieve social media marketing through your networks.
- Google+ Mobile : The mobile experience of Google+ is very good. I installed the Android app on my Google Nexus One and there are four primary functions I use the app for:
- Check-in: I use it to check-in to a business and to work.
- Nearby: You can see public posts from Google+ users nearby based your phone’s location. Catch local deals, or see what your competitors are doing.
- Notifications : Get status updates or reply notifications from your circles.
- Media: Upload photos right to Google+ from the app.
What Does This Mean for small businesses?
Here are my initial thoughts since the Google+ launch:
- Definitely accept the invite, setup and complete/ update your profile and business information. Check the links section and add links to good content about your business. i.e news mentions, interviews, business profile.
- Create a “Circle” of your customers on Google Plus and invite them.
- In the “Sparks” section add keywords you would monitor like your name, your business or keywords relative to your industry.
- Converse or post content that’s interesting and educational, as you would on any other social network. Articles of interest, blog posts, conversations, good wishes, comments etc.
- Use it as a networking tool. Watch the conversations and spend a few minutes with conversations with people closest to you in your network.