If you are breaking into the online marketing world—whether you are a business owner, a freelancer, or entrepreneur trying to establish your brand—you’ve undoubtedly discovered (or are starting to discover) the world of Social Media and its importance in reaching your intended audience. You’ve set up your Facebook and Twitter, you may have a LinkedIn or Instagram account, and you’re feeling pretty confident that your customers and clients will start rolling in once they see you posting about your amazing service, your awesome promotional products, and your exclusive offers.
But there’s something you missed, dear Social Media Adventurer: Google+. Yes, I said it: Google+, the young social media platform (turns two years old this summer) that anyone with a Gmail account automatically has, but few people actually utilize. Is it a Facebook copycat? Is it the new LinkedIn? Perhaps both, but here is why you should use it…
In 2004, Facebook was launched as a small-scale social networking site by Harvard students, exclusively for Harvard students. Before this point, we were an email-based society at best. Google was still young, and the internet was still largely used for indexing. The way we gathered information about one another and the world around us was through print-based media, news broadcasts, and face-to-face conversation (I know, how barbaric). As Facebook became available to more of us, we could communicate and digest information faster and more wide-spread through status updates, photos, and links. Everyone was jumping on board and suddenly our circle of “friends” was bigger than we could ever imagine.
In 2006, Twitter was born. This weird creature only allowed you to communicate ideas in 140 characters or less, and at first Social Media users rejected the platform upon the notion that they could already do the same thing with the following they had already built up on Facebook. But as our attention spans grew smaller, we appreciated the brevity. News sources capitalized on Twitter, creating “breaking news” headlines, and we began to receive information even MORE instantaneously. Twitter allowed us to search real-time thoughts by keyword or location—whether we were “friends” with someone or not, and today Facebook is taking notes from Twitter—looking to incorporate the infamous hashtag. Those who were with Twitter from the beginning now have thousands of followers, and those who are just joining the party now are struggling to keep up.
Throughout this rapid Social Media growth and obsession, Google loomed behind the scenes as the Internet Giant, the Ruler of the Web. While Social Media provided the platform of online communication, Google remained the source of the information, the place you found your links to share, the place you turned to when you were in need of locating the nearest wi-fi hotspot, and let’s not lie, the quick spellchecker you used before you embarrassingly misspelled something for all your followers to see #smh. Google determined which websites you saw first when you searched for a certain type of business. You know those “140 character” descriptions? Google uses that too (think of those descriptions under each search result, that’s no coincidence), and today we have people whose entire career is to “crack Google’s code” and figure out how to gain Google’s favor so certain sites can rank higher on search results, we call them SEO Analysts.
So, dear Savvy Social Media User, don’t you think that if the “Ruler of the Internet” comes out with a new social media platform and you utilize it to promote your company or brand, your ranking in Google searches will rise over someone who doesn’t utilize it? Why yes, yes it will. And don’t you think that just as early Twitter users who jumped on board from the beginning, your Google+ profile will be one of the “elite” once the Social Media world recognizes Google+ for all its glory if you jump on board from the beginning too? Why yes, yes it will. So what are you waiting for? Upload that profile picture, start connecting with people and sharing links.
Here are some additional advantages to Google+ besides the SEO rank boost:
- Split your contacts into “circles” to optimize specific types of audience. If you are a brand, you can post your message publicly or to an exclusive group of followers, and as you know customers and clients love to feel like they are part of an exclusive group.
- Use “hangouts” to provide discussions or demonstrations of your products or ideas with your audience. This is more interactive than a simple post, and since Google owns YouTube, you can later upload it to your favorite video-hosting site.
- Utilized everything you love about all your other social media platforms in one. Google+ has the layout of Facebook, the professional resources of LinkedIn, the trending topics of Twitter, the seamless photo sharing and photo editing (to a certain degree, I’m sure it will improve soon) as Instagram, the location ratings/reviews of Yelp (actually powered by Zagat), and more!
- Since Google is basically the Ruler of the Internet, updates and integration is seamless and new features are always being added, so the reach of your brand’s message is literally at your fingertips and you will be able to reach your audience through every type of online platform.