I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking that I’m about to suggest millions of users are going to start migrating from Facebook over to Google+. Regardless of Google’s intentions, I don’t think that’s the way things are going to play. Despite that, I have reason to believe Google+ is about to explode.
I also once thought that Google+ was being developed and marketed as a Facebook replacement. When it first came out, like many other people I’ve talked to, I had trouble wrapping my head around it. I gave it a couple of whirls, but I couldn’t even master something as basic as navigation. So I gave up temporarily.
Then, as my role as an online and social media strategist developed, I started entertaining the idea of using Google+ again. I’m thankful I did, because, even though Google+ is still coming into its own, there are several great reasons to consider jumping on the bandwagon now, especially if you are a content producer.
1. Stellar New Design
Google+ just recently got a faceliftCredit: Screenshot. I will be the first to admit that I never much cared for Facebook Timeline and the recent revamp - much to my surprise - organizes content in a similar manner. However, I do think it looks better than Timeline ever did. Google likened it to Pinterest because of how the content is prioritized by photos and video.
Overall, the new design is sleek and polished. Rolling over content highlights links within posts, and when you go to post something new, a content box gracefully slides out above the current content, giving you space to focus on what you want to post now.
2. Killer Mobile App
I’ve heard a lot of people complain about Facebook’s mobile app and while yes, it has gotten a lot better, the Google+ mobile app has almost always been solid.
When I take photos on my phone, it is usually for the sake of posting to Instagram. I like to cross-post to Facebook and Twitter (don’t judge me) to keep some activity going on my personal accounts. With the most recent update to the mobile app, it asks me if I want to publish the photos I took to my Google+ stream. I don’t do that, because it would go out to my Twitter followers again, but it’s still good to know that they care enough to notify me when I have content I might want to publish. And that's just one example of how well-constructed the app is.
3. Hash Tag Use
Hash tag (#) use is getting to be ubiquitous; on TV, in commercials, in banner ads... The fact that Facebook has yet to adopt it just goes to show that they don’t want their users to find things (promoted posts, anyone?). Okay, so there probably are other factors.
Still, I like the fact that Google+ has integrated hash tag functionality. You just look stupid on Facebook if you cross-post from other social sites complete with hash tags. On Google+, it can help you find trending topics and other relevant posts.
Update: Facebook recently integrated hash tag functionality, making it one of the last major social platforms to jump on the bandwagon. In tandem with Graph Search, hash tags on Facebook could indeed become a powerful ally for the online marketer.
4. Google Authorship
Credit: Google+ ScreenshotThis is so simple that you’d be silly not to take advantage of it as a blogger. Have you ever seen people’s pictures pop up next to their blog posts in Google search results? That’s a function of Google Authorship.
All you need to do is take some time to set up your profile. List yourself as a contributor to whatever blogs you publish to, link back from those blogs (you’ll need to use the rel=”author” tag), and make sure your profile image is a headshot of you. There are other minor stipulations; for example, you need to make sure that the name on your blog matches the name on your profile.
In any case, people are drawn to people’s faces, so if you want to keep a step ahead of your competition, this is a good way to do it.
While we’re on the subject of Authorship, allow me to quickly touch on the subject of SEO. Not everyone is going to get excited about this, so I will try to keep it short.
Keep in mind that Google+ is a Google platform. What this means is that what you post and what you include in your profile is search relevant. Therefore, you can target keywords and key phrases from your stream and profile the same way you would from your website, blog or podcast and make yourself and your content more discoverable.
Remember MySpace? Remember how you could add anyone as a friend? On Google+, you can ‘circle’ anyone, and anyone can ‘circle’ you and follow your stream.
Okay, so that may not be a selling point for everyone, but from a marketing perspective it’s quite brilliant. You can more easily, more readily connect with people around the globe.
Facebook? Let’s get real here; you don’t even see the posts from pages you ‘like’ most of the time, and even when you do, you don’t really pay attention. On Google+, you’re not forced into a weird paradigm where you have to friend someone and then ‘like’ their page (although I know that’s not always the case). If you want more updates from an individual, company or brand, you simply add them to a circle.
With Google Hangouts, you can host group conversations akin to video conference calls. It works with your standard bevy of mobile devices like cellphones and tablets, as well as a laptop or desktop computers with a webcam.
From Daria Musk to Pomplamoose to Chris Brogan to Barack Obama, a variety of users have already used Hangouts to answer questions, brainstorm ideas, share valuable information or even host streaming concerts.