In June 2011, Google unveiled Google Plus, its new platform intended to compete with Facebook.
Like Zuckerberg’s invention, Google Plus offers profiles for individuals and pages for businesses. Its interface, while a bit clunkier, is similar to Facebook in that it allows a user to share status updates, links, photos, and videos.
Unlike Facebook, Google Plus has the ability to segment fans into separate “circles”. On Facebook, a post generally reaches everyone, even if it’s not especially pertinent for each fan. Google Plus, on the other hand, lets one create as many circles as s/he wants and assign whomever to those circles. People can be assigned to more than one circle, too. When an update is posted, the person posting can designate which circles will be able to see that post. It’s similar to email marketing, which allows for the creation of distribution lists so that a message goes out only to those who are interested, or whom you want to receive it.
For the first few months, internet users watched curiously to see if the Google Plus concept would take off. Though quite a few people did set up individual and business profiles/pages, most did not leave Facebook to convert exclusively to Google Plus. Neither did mass viral appeal occur. While Facebook today boasts over 900 million users, Google Plus only has 250 million users to date (still impressive, however, for having only been in existence one year).
Regardless, I still recommend that every business set up a Google Plus page. Why? Because of its value in another important area: search engine optimization (SEO). Google has a vested interest in making sure its platforms show up well in searches. Facebook, on the other hand, has been targeted by increasingly stricter privacy demands from concerned parents and other users. As a result, keywords and other SEO functions posted on Facebook don’t typically appear prominently in search engines anymore.
A best practice from a social media standpoint? Post the same content on Facebook and Google Plus. Facebook will disperse your information to the masses virally, while Google Plus will register it with the search engines.