Social Media

Why the Fuss About Google+

There’s not much consensus about the value of Google’s still-new social network. But here’s why some people - including some meeting professionals - are betting on it.

When Google launched Google+ last summer, events marketing strategist Lindsay Fultz initially wasn’t impressed. “It seemed like just another social profile,” she said, “and one that seemed very boring.”

But as Fultz learned more about Google+, she realized that it has one critical advantage: It’s indexed by Google, the most dominant search engine in the world. That means that content posted on Google+ will climb in the rankings on a Google search. “If you post a link to your web site on Google+,” Fultz said, “it will show up [in Google’s search results] even higher than your own website.”

For now, Facebook dwarfs Google+ as a user base. But the thing “to keep your eye on is that search is [the way in which] people find your business, and the No. 1 search engine in the world now pays close attention to what people do on Google+,” social-media expert Chris Brogan writes in Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything. “If that doesn’t get your eyebrows raised and make you lean forward, I’m not sure what will.”

Fultz forced herself to spend time on the network every day, testing its effect compared with her other social-media activity. She found that a blog post linked to Google+ delivered better Google search-engine results than other posts that weren’t linked to Google+—even if the unlinked posts had many more comments and page visits. “It’s such a powerful tool,” Fultz said. Using Google+, she added, can be more effective than Google ads

But Fultz’s initial impression about Google+— that it was a dud — is still shared by many people. Last month, Arthur Pinkasovitch, a blogger posting on The Motley Fool website, was just one of a chorus declaring Google+ a failure. The average Google+ user, Pinkasovitch reported, spent only three minutes a month on the site between September 2011 and January 2012. “Users basically sign up for the service,” he wrote, “navigate to check out the cool features, and then don’t actively come back to Google’s social-media site.”

But using Google+ sporadically practically guarantees failure, Fultz said, since the platform rewards activity. “If you don’t post every 72 hours,” she said, “you drop off.” Fultz knows many planners who have filled out a Google+ profile, updated it a few times, and then disappeared. “It breaks my heart,” she said. “It is doing them no good at all.”

Google+ is not simply a good marketing tool, Fultz said. She is a power Twitter user, but she’s found that Google+ can be a better tool for helping build new relationships with people who share her interests. Google+ is amore three-dimensional platform than Twitter, which is limited by its 140-character format, she added. And a Google+ comment, she said, “blows a retweet out of the water.”

The Pluses

What exactly can you do with Google+? In Google+ for Business, social media expert Chris Brogan includes the following in his list of benefits:

1. Collaboration: “The tools for collaboration inside of Google+ are intuitive, offer many potential modes of interaction, and allow for strong communication options.”

2. Learning: “This isn’t just a site for bleeding-edge techies. All kinds of interesting communities have formed on Google+.”

3. Community building: Google+ “allows you a kind of blend between a publishing platform and a powerful new kind of telephone.”

4. Listening: “Because Google … indexes the information in Google+, you have the built-in opportunity to pay attention to what people say [about you].”

More Resources

Read marketing expert Lara McCulloch-Carter’s blog post “Why Not Being on Google+ Could Be Your Biggest Marketing Mistake.”

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.