I admit that when Google Plus rolled out in 2011, it perked my interest because at the time, you had to be invited by a member to be able to join. It was the exclusivity that drew me in. At the same time, all my friends were trying to get in on it, and so I quickly made an account and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
My initial thoughts were that the interface was nice and clean, and the Circles feature was an intriguing way to organize the people you know. Unfortunately, after building out my profile and some light browsing, my interest quickly waned, and I was back on Facebook, where things were more alive and buzzing with information and interactions. There was nothing new that Google Plus offered that really compelled me to spend any serious amounts of time there or make the switch.
Fast forward to 2014 and the opinion of Google Plus remains persistently lukewarm, at least amongst the general public. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times described Google Plus as a “ghost town.” And while Google Plus members may not be as active as those on Facebook or Twitter, it has grown to become an integral part of Google’s rapidly growing empire.
Google Plus should not be viewed as Google’s version of Facebook. It never was, and never will be. In fact, it really shouldn’t be viewed as just another social media platform. It is so much more. Google Plus is the backbone of Google.
If you want to build any strong online presence, signing up for Google Plus is a must. Do you want your business to appear on Google maps? Do you want to directly connect with your fans or customers? Do you want to garner reviews and understand how people search and interact with your business? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you will need to join Google Plus.
You can strengthen your online presence by connecting your Google Plus page to your website, which can help increase your SERP visibility as well as attract followers. These followers can write reviews for your products and/or services and solidify your credibility.
Keep in mind that while it is completely free to get your business on Google Plus, it is really up to you to maximize its potential. Make sure to frequently post with relevant hashtags, and don’t forget to upload flattering pictures of your business. Try and focus on building relationships with not just your followers and customers, but with other businesses and leaders in your industry.
While it might seem like Google is forcing people to sign up for Google Plus, you can’t think of it as a bad thing if it is adding value. If you’re not already on it, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful online tools to improve your bottom line.