“It’s a ghost town.”
“Nobody I know is there.”
“Nobody spends any time there”
“Oh no! Not another social network! Who has time for this?
There’s a secret that many of those commentators and writers have missed. Even though it’s right out in the open. In face, Google+ staff have mentioned it repeatedly. You see, it’s not really a social network at all.
Conversations that matter
Yes, there is a social aspect. The beauty of the people who have flocked to Google+ (and use it), is that Google+ conversations are far different from those on Facebook. There’s far less “Look at my new shoes!” or “taking my doggie to the spa” sorts of posts. Facebook tends to limit conversations: the blasted return key; the character limit, the focus on often meaningless “likes” and “friending.”
Google+, on the other hand, tends to encourage deeper, more meaningful interactions: conversations about politics, book discussions, collaborations (for-profit and non-profit), and even interaction with celebrities (some of whom turn out to be pretty interesting people). But that’s only part of the story.
What Google+ Really Is
It’s really an extra layer on top of search results. What that means is that Google is trying to make the results you get more relevant.
Google already did this (to a point) before Google+. For example, if I searched for “plumber”, Google would go and fetch results for plumbers in New York City, since a plumber in Chicago wouldn’t do me much good.
Social signals for better search results
Google+ takes this a step further. Now, Google is using “social signals” to improve results. Google’s new Knowledge Graph (which includes photos, links, and an overview of search terms) also shows reviews by people in your circles. So, if someone in your “artist” circle gives a +1 to a local art supply store, you’ll see that in results.
If you do the same, the people in your circles will see your recommendations too. There’s also a link to share what you found. This means more clicks, more views, and more traffic to your page.
Your face, and a link to your profile show up too if you’ve got the rel=author tags set up (click this link to find out how to do that).
Test it here to see if it works. It ends up looking like your own personal (and free!) mini-ad.
It’s also great for SEO. You’ll be more visible in search engine results, and rank higher. My search traffic has gone up over 400% since I started using Google+. And, I haven’t done any additional work.
Hangouts are, I think, the killer app. They’re great for freelancers, and now, with the addition of Hangouts on Air, you can have your own TV channel. Broadcast whenever you want, record your broadcasts, and grow your audience.
You can use it for interviews, talking with clients (being able to see their body language and reactions is extremely helpful), presentations, events, mastermind groups, tutorials, webinars, and even support calls (your client can hold up the green drive thingy that doesn’t fit into the blue port whatsit).
Collaborate on documents, share photos, or even share a screen (for those presentations). It’s brilliant, and it’s free (and frankly, works better than the “fancy” webinar software I tried).
What do you think? Have you been using Google+? Do you plan to? And what other uses can you think of for Hangouts?