When Google introduced Google+, how many people called it a Facebook wannabe?
How many more gave it a try only to say that it was a nice effort, but lacked the backing to stick around? How many were using it just as another social network and an inbound link to their “main site”?
Google+ is not only still around, it is growing into an essential network that deserves your attention, especially considering the weight Google gives to its own products when determining site relevancy.
Google + Communities
Google+ Communities are going hand in hand to provide resources to come up with a hybrid between Facebook and LinkedIn groups. What does it mean for you?
Setting up common interest groups is nothing new, but Google is going to find ways to improve upon what has already been done, and that’s a good thing. Simply posting in your own stream will give you the option of cross posting in your niche communities (public or private). You’ll also have the ability to filter streams, making it easier to find the content you want and keep out what you don’t. Facebook, take a note.
Of course, you still have Google Hangouts, and they are seamlessly integrated. Personally, the video chat is a nice touch and something neither Facebook nor LinkedIn offer. What isn’t available just yet is the proliferation across hardware. Once Google+ gets to more smart phones and mobile devices, this is going to be a real game changer for social media.
Similar to what is being seen in Facebook and LinkedIn, brand building and community is present. What is potentially present with Google+ and absent from the other two is the ability to rise to the top as a content/topic expert.
As ranking and relevance go, this is the stronger move and you should take advantage of this to establish your brand, or more importantly, yourself, as a leader in your niche.
Why Are Google+ Communities Important To You?
The additional features mentioned above should give you some indication of the continued investment being made by Google in this social product. As long as social media is important, Google is going to keep dumping money and attention into Google+. Learn the new features and find a way to make them work for you. But that isn’t the biggest reason.
As nice as the new features are the real reason to be using Google+ and the community features is because it is a Google product. This and this reason alone should drive you to use Google+. There are two main reasons for this.
Google integrates all of its products. Every time a product shows great interest, Google either makes its own version or absorbs a product. Once in the fold, it is integrated with everything else Google makes. This gives you a single platform with multiple tools at your disposal no matter which Google vertical you happen to be using at the time.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use other products. By all means, do so. Just remember to use as much Google as possible and take advantage of the total integration. You won’t find that kind of power elsewhere.
Remember the Golden Rule? Not that one. When it comes to Google, the phrase to remember is this:
Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
The sheer power of Google as a search engine should be enough to convince you to use their products. What should really drive you, however, is the fact that Google weights its products higher than third party sites.
Every time you use a Google product to network, develop original content, and establish yourself as an expert, you are giving yourself a stronger relevance rating. You would be a fool not to take advantage of that. By all means use third party materials, but be sure to use Google+ and the rest of the verticals.
The longer Google stays in power, the more and more its products are going to be the primary means by which it determines the relevancy of your site.
Don’t expect the playing field to level anytime soon. Bing and Yahoo are way behind. This isn’t an evil conspiracy. This is the result of years of development of an empire, and if you want your site to show up with a respectable ranking, you need to play ball.
[Editor's note: Did you know that BING is an abbreviation of Because It's Not Google?]
For the casual user, Google+ communities offers a lot of nice features that sets it apart from Facebook and LinkedIn, which are currently better known and in more widespread use. For the rest of you, Google + offers formidable tools to help you establish dominance as an expert for yourself and your brand.
Do not delay. Begin integrating content now and build your community.
Google+ Communities Video
Here is the ‘official’ promo video from Google about their Google+ Communities:
Google+ Hangouts Video
…and here’s the video about their Google+ Hangouts: