The Pluses and Minuses of Google+

I’m lukewarm about Google+. I joined very early because I’m professionally obligated to kick the tires on new social media channels. The conversations in the early months were all about the tool itself. This is always the case–the first ten “electronic mails” you ever sent were probably about the wondrous medium of email. Since then, I haven’t really discovered where Google+ should sit in my infovorious landscape.
Since I signed up, Google+ has apparently gained some serious momentum. Earlier this year Google’s CEO reported that Google+ had 90 million users worldwide. That’s a very fast rate of growth–much faster than the equivalent periods of growth for Facebook or Twitter. Anecdotally, I’ve got nearly 6000 followers (roughly the same number of Twitter followers I’ve collected in five years of Tweeting) through no actual effort on my part.

And yet we’ve already read the usual “new social media channel is dead” stories from the likes of Forbes and Slate. I don’t put much stock in those, though I’ve recently seen other Google+ news that’s not encouraging. Among my Google+ circles, I only see about 10% of users actively on the site.

What’s the future of Google+? I gave up making predictions about technology back when I wrote about “not getting Flickr” in 2004. Until recently, I’d been advising our non-technology clients not to worry about Google+. It’s early days, I told them. Let the geeks kick the tires on Google+ and we’ll see if it crosses the chasm. I reminded them of other Google efforts–Knol, Wave and Friend Connect.

My advice changed, though, once I watched this video from SEO guru Rand Fishkin. Take 12 minutes and watch it.

As you can see, he makes a very strong case for the search engine optimization benefits of being active on Google+. SEO tends to be a relatively small part of our non-profit clients online marketing efforts, but if you sell stuff online, then Google+ matters.

That said, if you sell stuff online, then you’re probably better off spending time on Pinterest than Google+. But that’s a whole other post.

Photo courtesy Yodel Anecdotal, flickr.

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