Google’s social network, Google+, has been the subject of much discussion in the small business community. Some people love it, some people hate it, but the reality is, it’s Google and you can’t ignore it.
Or can you? A few weeks ago, the news broke that Vic Gundotra, the Google employee behind Google+, was resigning. Since then, there’s been tons of speculation that Google is “giving up on” Google+, rumors that Google+ staff is being moved to new projects in droves, and vehement denial by Google that Google+ is in danger of becoming extinct (check out this TechCrunch piece for the basics).
If, like many busy small business owners, you already feel overwhelmed by how many social networks you need to manage, you might rejoice at this news. But should you – and can you afford to let your Google+ account rot (or not even start one)? Not so fast.
While Google+’s audience of users is, admittedly, much smaller than Facebook’s (with which Google+ was trying to compete), it’s also very passionate. Here’s some of what Forrester Research reported in a survey of 60,000 social media users earlier this year:
- 22 visit Google+ each month—the same number that use Twitter and more than use either LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram.
- Top brands in the study have 90 percent as many fans on Google+ as they do on Twitter, and have more followers on Google+ than on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram put together.
- Perhaps more important, Forrester says, Google+ generates huge brand engagement. Forrester’s Q1 2014 U.S. Top Brands Social Web Track studied over 3 million user interactions on seven social media sites and found that businesses’ Google+ posts generated almost as much engagement as their Facebook posts and nearly twice as much engagement as their Twitter posts.
So—do you need to be on Google+ or not? As with every social network that you consider using for marketing your small business, this really depends on your customer base.
- Are your customers already on Google+?
- Are your prospective customers on Google+?
- Are the thought leaders in your industry on Google+
- And finally—most importantly–are they passionate about it and active on it?
If so, then you need to join them.
If they’re not on Google+, if their interaction there is just half-hearted, or if they have accounts but never do anything with them, then I’d advise you to hold off and see what the next phase of Google+ brings.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.