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Google+, a dead duck or a flying opportunity?

Once branded as the social network to watch, in recent years it seems Google+ has taken a backseat while platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have continued to rule the social school.

The site has certainly had its fair share of criticism but with numerous redesigns, and the complete removal of popular tools, has interest and value in the social network increased or decreased? Is Google+ still relevant for businesses?

Similar to any social media channel, Google+ has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore a few of them…

Positive
1. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
One of the biggest rewards you can enjoy by using Google+ as part of your social media marketing strategy is a rise in Google search visibility. Google+ is just one string to Google’s bow and using the social network belonging to the internet’s biggest search engine, with over 3.5 billion searches per day, definitely has its benefits. By actively posting updates or content on your company’s page on Google+, you will see a positive effect on your website’s rankings on Google search. And, as your business name, products and services rise higher in the search ranks, the more valuable exposure you’ll receive which in turn can lead to increased web traffic.

2. NETWORKING
As a business using social media, it’s vital to create a thriving community around your product or service and Google+ helps you do just that. Google+ Communities are groups created around a specific subject from gadgets to science fiction. They can be created by an individual or a business and are a great way to engage customers. An example of a company using Google Communities to its full potential is moving company, U-Pack Moving.

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They use their profile to share tips on how to make long-distance moving easier, including tips on how to pack a self-storage unit and how to get rid of furniture dents left in the carpet.

Communities make it possible to create a direct connection with a target audience and be shape and be part of the conversation.

3. PERSONALISATION
Similar to Communities, Google+ introduced Collections which is also based around shared interests. However, this feature lets your followers choose the type of posts they want to see from you. For example, a PR agency might create separate Collections for social media, video and marketing news and its followers can then decide which Collection they’d like to see. As an example, the car-maker Ford created a Collection for its heritage vehicles:

Google+
Collections allow the user to unclog their news stream and better match it to their own actual interests. This means that when someone opts to follow your Collection, you’ve got much less competition – unlike on Facebook, when you’re up against all sorts (including cat memes and fail videos).

Negative
1. SMALL GROWTH
The biggest drawback for Google+ so far is that its struggled to grow a fan base. There is undoubted potential with Google+ with a network of 540 million monthly users, yet so many people still aren’t using it to its full potential. One of the major disadvantages is that users are forced to set up a Google+ account to be able to use other Google products such as blogging site, Blogger . Therefore, some Google+ accounts may exist but just aren’t being actively used.

2. THE REIGN OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
Let’s face it, no matter how hard Google tries, it’s got a long way to go before it can truly be classed as a challenger to the dominance of Facebook and Twitter. Many brands in the UK don’t see Google+ as too much of a priority compared to Facebook, Twitter because that’s where most of their audience can be found. Google+ may offer Communities and Collections but businesses see a bigger return on their efforts on Facebook and Twitter and it’s easier to measure return on investment. Communities and Collections might offer users a more streamlined, specific newsfeed but some might argue that getting a diverse mix of content is the sign of a healthy social network!

3. NO COMPETITIONS OR PROMO
Who doesn’t love a good freebie? Google+ doesn’t, apparently! One of the main avenues for businesses to generate interest and create a following is the use of competitions and promotions. However, the Google+ contests and promotions policy prohibits businesses from hosting contests on Google+ pages. Obviously, there is a way of getting around this, simply by posting links to contests occurring on another channel. However, these promotions cannot be hosted on or involve any Google features. Spoil sports.

So, we’ll leave you to make your own decision. Google+ can help your business to gain more exposure and generate more online interest if used correctly, but its effectiveness is limited and that’s why you should really be using it as part of an integrated content strategy.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and if you’re interested in talking to us about Google+ or any other social media network, you can get in touch with us here.

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