Oh social media, will you ever cease to amaze us? Or at the very least cease to keep creating new platforms? Probably not on the second question, but eventually, we’ll have certain platforms for certain types of content; and until those definitions are more clear, we have to weed through each one carefully and take the good with the bad, the positive with the negative and all the while — the traffic and the brand awareness that can come with each.
Unless you’ve been living under an Internet rock, you’ve no doubt seen all the buzz (no Google pun intended) about Google+ opening their platform to businesses by offering pages like Facebook did long ago. There are tons of ‘how-to’ posts popping up on how to claim your business page, but left in the dust are the Google+ basics. I mean, what good is having a business page if you don’t know the basics in the first place? Am I right?
Google+ was designed and developed atop and a strong foundation and was meant to be as simple as possible. Unlike other platforms where you add friends to a single community or list, with Google+ you’re able to segment groups of people into what Google calls circles. The default circles for Google+ Pages are: Following, Customers, VIPs and Team Members.
Google+ is gracious enough to allow you to label circles anything you want so you could have circles for partners, friends, network, etc. Your circles are private so when you add people, only you see where they are categorized and not everything is open to the public domain.
One of the greatest benefits of categorizing people in these circles is during the publishing of content. Depending on what type of content you’re publishing, you get to choose what circle receives the content. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where your timeline is your timeline and the message is broadcast for all to see (other than directly messaging someone), Google+ allows you to categorically message your followers. This is especially helpful when marketing to your customers or messaging your partners — not all your messages are meant for everyone, yet one platform can reach each group. This is social segmenting, something that is missing from the other wildly successful platforms.
Google+ also has a stream that is simply a newsfeed fed those who you’ve chosen to add to your circles. You’re able to view the stream and comment and share just like in other social platforms, but the media capabilities are much more robust and not as limiting as something Twitter or clunky like Facebook. Just as search results in Google are favoring richer media, Google+ seems to favor the use of richer media in updates. Google+ offers other special features as well, including “Stream” which is the newsfeed from those you have chosen to add to your circles as well as your own posts and updates.
You can view current updates from within your personal stream by logging into your Google+ account and clicking on your username, or by visiting the main page of your profile.
Google+ Pages also contains “Hangouts” which it introduced when Google+ initially launched. Hangouts offer live, multi-person video chat between Google+ users. This is wildly more productive than any other platform can offer — I’m talking to you Twitter and Facebook.
It’s easy to keep your distance from other users as well, as you can set your status as available or offline, and when you’re active, people from within your circles are able to connect with you via video live feed if that’s something you’re game with. In fact, you can have as many people within a video channel as you wish – and best of all, it’s included with the Google+ price of absolutely free.