What Up, Google+?

July 28, 2011

You may have noticed that new snazzy button on our blog posts recently, that little, colourful +1? If you haven't seen one before, that's a +1 button which is part of the Google+ Project. What the heck is that you ask? Basically it's Google's answer to a social network. It was unveiled at the end of June and is still in a "limited field trial" so not everyone can sign up just yet, but we thought we'd give you a sneak peek for now.

So what's the point? How does it differ from Facebook and Twitter and all the rest of them? And how can you use it for your business? Well, let's start out with a very arty, feel-good video overview from the Google YouTube channel:

 

Alright, down to the good stuff. Google+ is essentially a social network, but it's one that is tied into the most popular search engine out there. The home view for Google+ looks a lot like Facebook, with a stream of what's going on in your circles. You can filter the stream to show individual groups, or circles. You can do this on Facebook too, but it's not built into the core functionality like it is with Google+. *(Scroll down to the very bottom of this post for instructions on how to do this with Facebook).

 

Google+ Circles

When you connect with someone to Google+ you have to add them to a circle. Circles are what set Google+ apart from the rest. They allow you to share what you want with who you want, rather than broadcasting everything to all of your "friends." So that means if you attended your college roommate's stagette on the weekend you can share a few photos with just your Party Animals circle on Google+. It also means that your aunt Susan who's in her late sixties doesn't have the opportunity to comment with "Haven't seen that type of cake before, oh my! Hope you're doing well, sweetie. Sure would be nice if you dropped by for a visit some day soon! Love your Aunt Susan." Because really, aunt Susan doesn't really need to hear about the events of that particular weekend and your friends probably don't need to see your Susan's guilt trips. Problem solved!

Cue feel-good video from Google about circles.

 

Hangouts

Yup, Google is breaking out the big guns and using some cool words. These are not just group video chats, they're hangouts. And you don't have to be invited to join. If you see a hangout going on, you can just drop by. And Google+ will shine the spotlight on whoever's talking (or speaking the loudest if multiple people are talking at once) so it's easier to follow along with a larger group of people. You can also watch a YouTube video together during a hangout.

We've seen quite a few awesome uses for hangouts so far and we expect to see more as Google+ grows (cooking lessons, Q&As with authors, group yoga sessions, book club meetings, etc.) Dell has even announced that they're interested in using Google+ hangouts for customer service.

OK, one last warm and fuzzy video from Google.

There are many other new and fun features on Google+, but circles and hangouts definitely top the list for the wow factor.

 

Google+ for Business?

So how can you use this for business you ask? Well you can't, just yet that is. When Google+ was launched at the end of June several brands and businesses (including Mashable, Sesame Street, and Ford) all hopped on board and created profiles. Since then, Google has announced that they have something different in store for businesses and terminated nearly all of those existing accounts. They did open the door for a select few to have test accounts in the meantime, like Ford. But as you can see, it's clearly labeled as a test account. Everyone's chomping at the bit though, so Google has announced that they're making business profiles a priority and they plan to open this opportunity to everyone shortly. If you want to see more about this announcement, check out the post from Google+ project manager Christian Oestlien.

So what do you do in the meantime? Well, before you can join in on the Google+ fun, you need to get an invite. So ask around, see if any of your friends are on it and ask for one. Can't get an invite? Sign up for updates and take the super snazzy tour for now!

So let's say you managed to get invited and you're a business owner who is already in the public eye as an individual (real estate agents, personal stylists, etc.). You can choose to create a profile under your real name (like Pete Cashmore of Mashable). But if you would rather wait for a proper business profile where you can promote your company, you can still sign up as yourself and try things out for now. If you know how Google+ works and are comfortable with all its features by the time business profiles are launched, you'll be ahead of the game. Nobody's really sure what Google has in store for businesses yet, but we're pretty excited to find out.

Is this the death of Facebook? Not yet, in our opinion. Google definitely has the potential to give Facebook a run for their money, but don't abandon any Facebook marketing efforts you're making any time soon. And stay tuned to this blog or Better Mousetrap's Facebook or Twitter for more updates on business opportunities with Google+.

 

New technology and marketing tools can be a bit scary, but that's why we're here to lend a nerdy hand. With in-depth research and a full-service creative team, Better Mousetrap works with business owners in Courtenay, Comox, Nanaimo, Victoria, and the Lower Mainland to find new and different ways to reach their target markets including social networking.

 

 

*If you're curious about how to create Facebook friends lists, go to your friends list and then click the "Create a List" button in the top right. Then once you've created lists (for example, family, coworkers, etc.) you can select which list you'd like to view updates from in the news feed. You can also choose to share a post with select people or lists by using the custom sharing we talked about in a previous post:

 

 

 

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