Until recently G+ was something we were strategically pushing for every client who wanted to be at the forefront of thought leadership in his or her field. Until recently Google used an system called Authorship as a way to link any content you created with your Google+ profile. When we ran a search in Google, we’d get thought leader’s profile images and by-lines next to search results. When people had liked and shared content you’d produced, within Google+, it’d rank it higher. Great for personal branding. Then, it stopped.
Does it have the size of the likes of Facebook? Well, Google+ claims to have a lot of users – 300 million active a month, allegedly – but I suspect they’re counting logins to Gmail as logins to the platform. Honestly, who do you know that uses Google+? I work in social media and I know only a handful of passionate users. Is your target audience actually there?
So, what’s the point of Google+ now? Good question.
Well, there are local listings. You can ask visitors for recommendations and you appear over on the right hand side of a search with maps etc.
There are also Business Pages. Business Pages share content and provide inbound links. If someone’s following your business and you share content on a topic they’re searching for it’ll give that content priority in Google search results – especially if they’ve engaged with it. Default settings for Google are ‘Personal’, so if you’re using Chrome (and 50% of people do) or are logged into your Gmail account etc. then it’s using your Google+ preferences to rank content. This does, of course, rely on people following your Page and engaging with your content.
There is the rub. Google+ isn’t an easy place to grow a following. If you’ve got time to build a community and put the effort in, do some outreach, be a part of some communities, that’s great. Honestly though, which business has? Time is money, right?
Nowadays to set up a YouTube Page you need a Google+ presence to link it to. For business, that’s a Business Page. YouTube is priceless, especially for B2B, even if you’re just creating on-topic playlists (by way of aggregated content) or the most basic of explainer videos.
So yes, there’s a purpose to Google+, but it’s a strategic one. If you’re local, go for it. If your audience is there, brilliant, do some research to check. If you have time to get out there and generate a community by being part of the conversation, go for it. If you need YouTube, sure.
Think about it though. Be sure this is going to work for you. Think strategically. You’re going to spending time on this and time is money. Now there’s no Authorship, is it really worth it for you and yours? Hey, it’s still Google, who knows where they’ll take it in the future.