If you have a Google+ account you may have noticed that the number of people following you has been increasing recently. There is no doubt that use of this social media platform is increasing exponentially.
It was never going to be easy for Google+. It came to the table late when many people felt that their social media needs were met by Facebook or Twitter, not to mention enough of their time being taken up. Why did they need yet another social network? However, the new platform was owned by one of the most powerful and determined brands on the planet and it wasn't going to go away.
Take a look at these three quotes from Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google;
“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about."
“I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions, they want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."
"We Want People To Be More Logged Into Google.”
Google's intention is pretty clear and you can see why many people are uncomfortable with them owning a large social network as well as 'owning' search. When Google suffered an outage in August of this year there was a 40% decline in web traffic in the west, showing how much they do own the process.
Google bought Youtube in 2006. Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google and anyone with a Youtube account also has a Google+ account.
So, like it or not, Google+ is here to stay. However, should we be reconsidering Google+ and approaching it from a 'what's in it for me' angle?
First of all, Google+ is very different from Facebook. The latter introduced us to social networking and we became comfortable with the idea of 'friending'. You ask someone to be your friend and they can't see your information, provided you've been sensible with your privacy settings, unless they have friended you back.
With Google+ anyone can follow you, so it's sensible to be more circumspect about what you post. In that sense it is more of a commercial model. After all, anyone can go into a shop without an invitation. Many brands are using this more open environment to promote themselves successfully. H&M are the most followed brand on Google+ with more than 3 million followers. In addition to a more open environment Google offer something called Ripples, which is a genuinely innovative way for brands to see what is shared and where and how communities form around information. They can the use this to plan their future strategies.
Another very important feature of Google+ is in the area of expertise. If you are a content creator you can add a rel=author tag to anything you post online. By combining semantic intelligence to know what subject content is about and monitoring sharing activity Google can see who are the most influential authors on various subjects. You will have seen articles appearing in search results with a photo of the author next to them. This is why and it will only become more common in the future because it makes sense. It's like replacing the algorithm that Google has relied on for the best part of 15 years with a human search engine.
Google has been built on search. If the search algorithm is replaced by something better it is mission critical that Google owns it. That's the point.
So, whether or not Google+ should matter to you will depend on how you use the Internet. If marketing is important to you or if you want to be known as an expert in your field then you should without a shadow of doubt be building your profile, understanding how it works and learning to love it. If you're mainly interested in the social end, pictures of kittens, stalking exes and that sort of thing then you probably don't need another social network. You have more than enough already.