When Google+ was launched in 2011, expectations were high. Finally, the biggest player online was going to try its innovative hand at the social web. As people started to explore the new platform, that initial enthusiasm quickly gave way to skepticism. Growth was slow, and convincing people to leave the familiar comforts (and their friends) on Facebook was proving to be a more difficult task than the big G initially thought.
While Google+ has silenced some critics and grown impressively in just two years, overtaking Twitter to become the second-most used social network on the web, many businesses still shy away from the rising star to focus their marketing efforts on more established sites. After all, why would you spend time reaching Google+’s 500 million users when you could be spending that time going after Facebook’s 1.1 Billion? However, business owners who only focus on brute numbers are missing the big picture.
What sort of big picture? Well..
When someone google’s the name of your business, wouldn’t it cool to have a big ad, complete with any picture of your choice in the results? When you have a regularly updated Google+ page, you do. For free.
Googling the name of your business results in your most recent Google+ post, including the image you included taking up a significant chunk of the screen on the right hand side. Online background check provider Instant Checkmate takes advantage of this fact by frequently putting a big image and a few lines of sales copy on their Google+ page.
Can you do that with a Facebook account?
People are naturally drawn to pictures. While they might glaze over walls of text, their eye will instantly focus if they come across a nice image. So when you’re competing for attention on Google’s text search results, wouldn’t it be convenient if you could slip a small picture next to the content you create? Well, thanks to the Google authorship feature of Google+, you can.
When you link your Google+ to a blog post, infographic, or other content you have written to promote your business, a thumbnail sized picture of you appears right below the link. This makes it stand out from the other content that people are browsing through, which in turn increases the click-through rate.
Part of the appeal of Twitter is that content is available in real time. While you might normally have to wait a bit until your personal blog post was indexed and available to a broader audience, with Twitter you can hit up all of your followers in seconds. Since Google+ and Google Search are tightly connected, having a Google+ gives the same instant publishing advantage, only on a larger scale. The moment you put a piece of content on your profile, not only do your subscribers get it, but it’s available to Google searchers as well.
If the growth of Google has taught business owners anything it’s that underestimating the brainiacs who work in the Googleplex is a grave mistake. While Google+ doesn’t have the audience base that Facebook has quite yet, it has a number of innovative features and advantages that Facebook doesn’t. When you consider that fact, maybe it’s just a matter of time before Google+ gives Facebook a run for its money.
Lucas Strauss is a blogger living in Eureka, California. He writes about social media, business, and marketing.