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June 13, 2012

Google+ Feedback From a Reluctant Participant

Social media fanatics all seemed incredibly reluctant to use Google+ when it was first presented to the public. People balked at the concept, the platform and even questioned Google’s sanity for creating a social media competitor while Facebook loomed overhead. I admit, I was one of those reluctant people, although I had been curious enough to dabble in Google Buzz during its short run. As my company’s Social Media Director, I was determined to find out more about Google+, so I signed every single customer up, set up their business pages, and then settled into my own Google+ profile to go along for the ride and see how the social landscape evolved.

Google+ has changed, and it’s been interesting to watch the evolution and see social networks connect and interact on this new media. On a personal level, I’ve actually been able to network on a very specialized level thanks to Google Circles, which are sharable. With this sharing of circles, I’ve been exposed to countless new and interesting online personalities, organized neatly into Circles based on location, topic, and other descriptors that help me focus my reading and get the information I’m interested in, when I am interested in it. It takes some time to adjust to any new platform, and Google+ is no exception, but I find the circles a nice organizational shift – people who enjoy more visual means of organization will enjoy them as well.

Privacy levels are very specific, as well, and easy to manage – a sharp contrast to the often complicated security settings of Facebook. Instead of jumping through hoops to set my privacy levels, I can organize people into Circles that allow me to better control the media I disseminate to my audience. This also means I can create and disseminate specialized content to each individual circle. Specialized content to me means I’m able to better communicate the right message to the right group of people. On a personal and professional level, this is a tremendously valuable tool.

Looking at the professional benefits, the most obvious one has been that, with Google’s search results getting more personal, my business clientele are able to get great ranking with their G+ pages. When I am signed in to my Google account, Google+ pages that are locally relevant or topically relevant to my search pop up first. This means active Google users are getting these relevant results, and businesses utilizing Google+ properly are probably going to show up more often for those people whose searches are relevant to the business. Moreover, Google Pages for businesses are a great way for businesses to network with other local businesses and create a positive local network for merchants to cross-promote on. On a personal level, Google Pages cannot add people until they are added by the person – this is more interactive than Facebook, whose fan pages only allow fans to “like” the page and give no access to the individuals following the page. This means more research and consumer observation for businesses to utilize to better shape the customer experience.

So yes, I am using Google+. I see positive results from the networking opportunity, and see more meaningful connections being created as the network continues to evolve. I think this one will stick for a while, and I’m appreciating the efforts Google has made to simplify the networking process to make sharing more specific and relevant to readers. I’ll also continue to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks, because diversity has always been a great way to reach new audiences and connect with new people and new opportunities.

Author Danica Jones has been interacting online for 17 years and counting, discovering new social outlets and means of communication as they blossom and wither. She enjoys writing for her company’s blog at Quantus Creative, and her own personal blog at DIY Adventurer.