Getting on Board with Google+

Regular readers will recall that I suggested a taking a wait-and-see approach to Google+ when it first launched (especially since the search giant has a less than stellar track record when it comes to social). Though it’s no panacea, the verdict is in: if you haven’t already, it’s time to start exploring Google+ (if you aren’t on yet, sign-up using one of my invites by clicking here).

Much has been written with tips about how to use it, so let’s focus on the why. Though it’s difficult to add yet another social network to our hectic schedules, there are two aspects of Google+ in particular that give it staying power – the Hangout feature, and SEO.

Hangouts
As noted earlier, a Hangout is a multi-user video chat that can be used in a variety of creative ways. Though only 10 people can participate in a Hangout at once, Solo PR community member Jenny Schmitt used it for a mini press conference on behalf of a client, and Steve Rubel, of Edelman, notes that he used it for a Q&A session, and rotated people in and out of the Hangout to accommodate more people. There are also tools available to record a Hangout, so – though the quality is not at a high level – there are occasions when it could be used for something akin to a webinar. The myriad of possible uses is still being explored, so it’s an exciting new frontier.

SEO
On the SEO front, as outlined very well in this article on Search Engine Land, connecting with folks on Google+ means that the content they share will show up higher in your Google search results (and vice versa). As noted in an official Google blog post about Social Search, other social networks are used in their ever-evolving algorithm, but it’s easy to see why Google would give preference to its own social network when displaying search results. This will likely be the key aspect for business users.

Except for a few test accounts, brands/companies are still not allowed to have their own profiles on Google+ (these are expected later this year). Once they are unleashed, we can expect clients to be asking whether they should be on this network, and how they should be using it. By kicking the tires with your own personal account now, you’ll be prepared to handle the inevitable questions down the road.

If you're just getting started, feel free to add me to a circle and say hello! If you’re on Google+, what has been your experience? Do agree with the characterizations here?