The popularity of Google+ is growing, quite rapidly to according to CEO Larry Page there are now over 90 million users. Celebrities are now starting to take to the service including Lady Gaga, who has over 18 million followers on Twitter, and even David Beckham who recently held a Hangout for fans on the platform.
It’s not just the amount of users and who is starting to use it that is most striking, it’s the continued innovation that makes it increasingly important to everyday business.
As it currently stands Google+ is a fantastic tool for collaboration, and it’s free. Features like screen and document sharing, along with the ability to record video Hangouts and segment easily with Circles means you can work seamlessly with others. Where it struggles for business at the moment is active users; Facebook has over 750 million users so justifying campaign activity is not hard. Twitter on the other hand can return very rapid results when executed correctly. Google+ is still very much in the discovery phase for most businesses.
This will change very rapidly in 2012.
The first sign of change was the introduction of Search plus Your World, this has now rolled out and impacting search results for the majority of Google users. If I search for “Running Shoes” – personal results, i.e. results from people I am connected with on Goolge+, now show in prime position above paid ads, and integrated into the results further down the page – see image below. So if you want to me to notice you as a retailer you stand a better chance if you can connect with me on Google+.
What will have more impact, especially if we see it transition into standard search too, is the ability to start a conversation from the Google+ search results. Now this is currently confined to searches within the Google+ platform, but can you imagine the impact if I search for “Running Shoes” on Google Web search and can immediately enter a conversation with my connections without leaving the page. It could look something like this:
Again if you want to influence my purchase decision you need to be connected to me and tracking conversations around your market sector. According to ComScore in October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites and due to the fact that Google has the largest share of the search market, over 65% in the US, combining these two facts it makes for a very powerful argument for businesses to start learning how to use Google+ right now.
Google as a whole is destined to become a social platform. What do you think?