Why Google+ is relevant, even if it seems cheesy

Google+ was supposed to be the great answer to Facebook and Twitter’s dual dominance of the social media world. Google had high hopes for the format, and it was pushed as the “next big thing.” Unfortunately, in practice, the big thing didn’t quite happen, which begs the question for businesses: is Google+ worth the attention and trouble, requiring a business to maintain yet another platform in social media?

Google+ is said to have 170 million users currently, which definitely gives the platform its own “plus” in terms of marketing potential. That said, the same study is finding that the great population on Google+ isn’t sticking around to do much in the way of social media-izing. In fact, they aren’t sticking around much at all, to the tune of 1 out of 3 users are going elsewhere and just having a “dead” account.

So why then does Google+ have such a large membership? Well, one answer is obvious. Google has integrated Google+ into all of its other services, so by default a user of other tools has to have a Google+ account. In reality, it’s a bit of cheating. If you have a Gmail account that actually is useful, you automatically have a Google+ account as well. Ergo, the presence of dozens of millions of users. Unfortunately, that sort of co-opting doesn’t create account holders that actually want to use the format on a regular basis.

The above doesn’t make for a good selling point for Google+. However, before a reader decides that this article is just an eventual condemnation of the platform, here’s a couple of other factors to consider.

Ignore Google+ at Your Peril – When someone controls the house, the visitors have to play by the rules to be allowed inside. Irrespective of whether Google+ is aesthetically appealing or not, it is directly tied into the Google search engine. And that means those who do use get a leg up on those who don’t when it comes to Google searches. Life is rough, and this is one of those moments where one just has to go with the flow to stay up with competitors.

Google+ Offers Small Businesses a Second Chance – Because Google+ is a competitor to the two other big names in social media, it offers a new chance for small businesses to edge up against bigger players. This is because Google+ doesn’t generate status by how many ads it runs. It predominantly rides on how social the user’s circles are. As a result, those who have lots of social savvy get ranked very well by Google’s search engine as relevant material for searches.

Circles Create Targeted Markets – Unlike Facebook where a business gets liked by an anonymous crowd represented by a population number of the like button, circles in Google+ are actual, identified people who can be directly marketed to. However, circles are more than just a digital mailing list; they are cultivated followings that can be very powerful. Some companies use them as focus groups to try out new ideas. Others use circles as feedback loops with existing products already available. The use is limitless; it just depends on what a business comes up with. But once a viable circle is created, it needs to be protected proactively or its benefit can quickly fall apart.

So, while Google+ doesn't seem as appealing, it is still relevant, especially to a business that relies on Google's search engine for traffic.