7 October 2013
By Gary Smith for Imaginet
Google plus is growing in popularity for a number of very good reasons. In the first place it provides a manageable means of communication with your followers – which is made even more effective by the simple but ingenious ‘circles’. By selecting certain followers and placing them into specific circle, one has a very efficient way of targeting your posts at specific groups and markets. Coupled with this are the hangouts that facilitate online conferencing.
Google Plus Groups
Possibly one of the main features of Google Plus that trumps Facebook is the richly diverse and very accessible discussion groups. This makes Google Plus more like LinkedIn in some ways and the discussion groups are well integrated into the overall flow of the site. All of this has increased the social networks viability, but there are a number of other factors that have begun to accelerate the popularity of the site.
Google Plus is now the second largest social network.
Recent reports indicate that there are now more Google Plus users than on Twitter. (The March 2013 Survey) According to the GlobalWebIndex study, Google Plus has 359 million monthly active users according and its active users base grew by 33% from June 2012 through to March 2013. There are also less well-known reason for the increase in Google Plus popularity. A number of studies show that Facebook limits the reach of your updates in order to increase advertising sales; as the knowledgeable Jeff Bullas states; “Facebook has increasingly applied its Edgerank technology that filters the updates that are seen by people that have liked your brand’s “Facebook page”. Some research shows it at less than 15% and shrinking. This is so they can force you to spend to advertise on Facebook to get attention.” It has become “pay to play” On the other hand, ” Google plus does not filter (censor) your updates to followers that are following your page” .
Google plus is also beginning to be more attractive to professionals and business users.
This is to a large extent due to the growing number of effective discussion groups but also to the introduction of the Google author authority tag ( see below). For example, writing about the value of Google Plus for writers, Janalyn Voigt of Wordservercooler com states that “Google+ offers unique benefits for writers wise enough to take advantage of them.” She also refers to the issue of cost and reiterates the view of Jeff Bullas : “Facebook will extend your reach, but at a cost. Google+ lets you contact those in your circles free of charge”. I have a strong feeling that this factor alone and the cost of extending one’s reach on Facebook will be a determining factor in pushing Google Plus ahead of Facebook in the future”.
Google Plus allows for better communication and interaction
The need to interact and communicate is the main reason why professionals use social media. In this regard Google Plus is excellent at connecting people with similar interests. This can be done through searching through the discussion groups, or starting your own group. The ability to place people into groups according to different themes and criteria is also very helpful in connecting with others in your field.
Google Plus is after all an integral part the Google machine and it is also well known that from an SEO or search engine optimization point of view any updates that you make on Google Plus will rank well in Google’s search engine. In other words, placing blog updates in Google plus will provide these updates with a relatively good chance of being seen, compared, for example, to Twitter.
Recently, Google introduced a new author tag in order to identify the author of an article. This basically involves creating a connection to a web page and the author’s Google Profile – which has the advantage of displaying the author’s name and picture in Google search results. Of course this means that it is becoming even more advantageous to have a Google Plus account. An overview of this process can be found here.
It’s all about Google Plus’ Circles
However, many feel that the real ‘killer app’ are the circles in Google Plus. As one pundit states; The real killer feature to Circles in Google+ is how easy it is to find and add friends. Everywhere you see a user’s name or avatar you can simply mouse over it, click “Add to Circles,” and then select which circle to add them to. On Twitter, it took me about three years to find about 200 really interesting people (mostly in technology and the media) worth following. It took me less than three days to find that many on Google Plus. Of course, most of them are the same people, so Google+ has the advantage of speed by letting us quickly re-coagulate our existing social graph on the new service. (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-sanity-check/why-google-plus-is-about-to-change-the-web-as-we-know-it/)
Many won’t move over to Google Plus. There will always be thousands of die-hard Facebook fans. However, what is already happening is that Google Plus is fast becoming the place to go if you are fed-up with Facebook reach throttling and insidious machinations to make you pay to be seen. For many the final reason to move to Google Plus lies in the SEO value is provides as well as in its easy to navigate interface and the balance between information and discussion.
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