Google+ for Small Businesses? Don't Bother (Yet)

Over the last week or so, there has been a ton of chatter in the online marketing world about Google+, a new social network from Google. The user experience is similar to that of Facebook (a news feed based on status updates and shared content, recommended friends, etc.), but the idea here is to make it easier to share content with specific sets of people (called Circles) instead of just publishing content on your wall for everyone to see. It's definitely a cool concept, even if it doesn't gain real traction (like some of Google's previous attempts to be social).

Right now Google+ does not allow businesses to sign up for a page, although they have said they will be bringing a business-friendly version to market later this year. While many business pages have actually been shut down, Ford was one of the first corporations to have a page launch legally earlier this week.
So ... as a small business, should you care about Google+? In short, not right now. Google has been amassing users very successfully in the first few weeks (close to 20 million, according to reports) but it is way too early to tell if people will really care beyond the initial flurry of activity and adopt it enough to make marketing there a worthwhile investment of time and energy. The challenge for Google is that Facebook has captured not only early adopters, but the entire market to get to their 750 million user base. Certainly, a portion of that group is interested in using a different (or additional) network, but for most consumers, we are likely reaching a saturation point where we're comfortable with Facebook and how it works as a social network, and don't need another.

Google+ does have some interesting features — many that are inspired by Facebook and many others that Facebook will likely incorporate into its own product — so as an interested consumer, feel free to check it out and let us know what you think. As a business, you should keep an eye out for Google+ business pages, but I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it until we see real traction.
Want to learn more about the networks that do matter? Check out the Social Media Quickstarter!

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