Will You Be My Plus One?

by Heather Keroes

I created a profile on Google+ about a month ago, after asking a friend for an invite out of sheer curiosity.  Is Google+ the next big thing?  And what could it mean for a PR professional?

Whether you’re an individual or a company, Google+’s main draw is how simple it is to create groups of people you’d like to communicate with (in Google terms, these groups are called “circles”). This allows you to easily reach a very specific audience with one message, and not share that same message with others.

Ford made headlines recently as one of the first brands to join Google+.  So far more than 14,000 people have Ford in their “circles” – meaning they subscribe (for lack of a better word) to receive updates from Ford in their Google+ news streams. So far, Ford has been using Google+ to share news about its products, showcase fun videos and give away prizes.

I don’t know if Google+ is a wise choice for brands just yet, but if you are interested in learning about any benefits besides “circles,” here are a few:

Contests Are OK – Facebook’s lawyers have placed very strict rules on how its platform is used, meaning all promotions must adhere to specific standards.  Giveaways on Facebook Walls are prohibited. That said, it doesn’t seem that Google’s lawyers have jumped on the same bandwagon just yet.

You Can Take It Back – Google+ allows you to change any post from the past.  This is great if you have a typo and don’t want to lose all of the comments on a post by deleting it.  Of course, there is a negative side to this as well … since companies can essentially take back anything that they’ve said, which could be misleading.

SEO Aplenty – Have you heard of Google Search? It’s kind of a big deal. Well, Google+ has an option that lets you increase ranking for a site by clicking a “+1” button. Similar to a “Like” button on Facebook, the “+1” allows Google+ members to show their affinity for something. The big difference is the “+1” will eventually have a direct influence on the search results you see at Google.

While this all sounds great in theory, I’m not sure how Google+ will catch on after the testing period.  So far I have posted one time to my page and my circle is quite meager. I just feel much more personally invested in Facebook. My friends are already there and, yes, I have built a life on it – more so than I ever did on MySpace, where my wall was littered with animated gifs and tags from people I hardly knew.  That said, I’ll stay in this circle for a while and see where it goes.

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