A year ago, the argument could be made that small businesses didn’t need Google Plus (Google+). The upstart social networking site just didn’t have the number of users and level of activity when compared to Twitter or Facebook, so it wasn’t deemed worth the effort. How things can change in a year! If you still don’t believe that Google Plus is quickly becoming critical for small business, consider these four points:
1. Google Plus Seamlessly Integrates Many Other Google Features
Only Google has the ability to integrate hundreds of features into one social network, all provided by the same company.
Have you ever experienced the frustration of finding a restaurant on Facebook, but having no easy way to get directions there? You probably copied the address, then went to Google Maps to look up the directions, right? Well, that doesn’t happen with Google Plus because Google Maps is integrated right into the restaurant’s page for you.
In a world where customers would rather find a different business that go through the minor hassle of visiting another website to find your location, it makes sense to have a presence on Google Plus.
Other services are also built right in, such as YouTube for videos or Picasa for pictures, and many Google services such as Google Docs and Gmail can easily share content and information with Google Plus. For example, if you’re using Google Contacts to manage your contact list, it will automatically link your contact to their Google Plus profile, if they have one.
While Facebook and LinkedIn provide some integrated features and services, many of them provided by third parties; only Google Plus can offer this level of integration with services you use every day.
2. Reduce Travel Expenses with Google Plus Hangouts
Small businesses with offices in several cities face a difficult problem: how to coordinate activities between the offices without blowing the budget on travel expenses?
Google Plus has the solution with Hangouts. Hangouts make it easy to host brainstorming sessions and video conferences right in your web browser. No need to worry about plane tickets, hotel rooms, vehicle rentals or mileage, or per diem expenses. Just put a webcam on everyone’s workstation and you’re good to go.
3. Google Plus is the Second Largest Social Networking Site, and It’s Still Growing
Google Plus has surpassed Twitter as the second largest social media network in the world. As of January 2013, there were 343 million active users.
The interesting thing is that Google didn’t take the easy route building those users. In June 2012, there were about 425 million Gmail users; Google could have easily and automatically set up a Google Plus profile for each of those users and instantly claimed over 400 million users.
Instead, Google Plus seems to be quite comfortable sitting back, building its applications and services, and letting people come to it. Google Plus is just getting started, and it makes sense for small businesses to get in now. Your customers are coming to Google Plus; the question is whether you will be there, ready for them, or if they will be waiting for you to catch up.
4. Google Plus Gives You More Authority
Google Plus might not have as many users as Facebook, but the people who have already joined are seen as knowing what they’re doing.
More than any company, Google determines which websites succeed and fail. When’s the last time you used Yahoo! to search the Web?
Google Plus is starting to play a part in how a website gets ranked. Google recently added author authority to its ranking algorithm so that prolific writers have more influence than those who don’t publish often. It’s been shown that when a page is displayed on Google’s search engine results with an attached Google Plus profile, a number two or even number three ranking can often generate more clicks than a number one ranking without a Google Plus profile.
By joining Google Plus, authors can help Google keep track of their posts. That helps small businesses improve their page rankings simply by maintaining and regularly updating a blog on their website.
Google Plus is quickly becoming a necessity for small businesses that want to be found online. Have any other tips or suggestions for small businesses on Google Plus? Leave them in the comments below.