Would Google+ work for you?

Is Google+ right for your business?

Google+, a social network operated by Google, Inc., launched on June 28th, 2011 with integrations across a number of Google products, including Buzz and Profiles.

Google Circles

One key element of Google+ is a focus on targeted sharing within subsets of your social group, which are what Google calls Circles. Circles are simply small groups of people that you can share to, each with names like friends, family, classmates and co-workers.

Images

Also within Google+, Google has created a section specifically for viewing, managing and editing multimedia. The photo tab takes a user to all of the photos he or she has shared, as well as the ones he or she is tagged in. It’s not just photo tagging, though: Google+ includes an image editor (complete with Instagram-like photo effects), privacy options and sharing features.

Hangouts

Another feature that’s widely discussed is “Hangouts,” Google’s new group chat feature. Instead of directly asking a friend to join a group chat, users instead click “start a hangout” and they’re instantly in a video chatroom alone. At the same time, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” Friends can then join the hangout as long as they have been placed in a circle that was invited by the person who created the Hangout.

Business Profiles

Early this month, Google officials hinted at a trial run of business profiles and asked those interested to apply. Tens of thousands of businesses, charities and other groups began vying for a new home with the nascent social networking site, according to a statement from Google group product manager Christian Oestlien last week.

Google expects to have an initial version of business profiles available for all users within the next several months. Until then, the site asks users to not create business profiles using their regular accounts, promising to disable such pages when they come up.

While the response was overwhelming, some small business owners don’t know what to expect, and others are wondering if the yet-to-be-unveiled features will be game changing enough to invest their time in the social media endeavor.

Although Google+ isn’t the last frontier in the social media age, the site won’t replace Facebook in the brand promotion area, says Tony Martignetti, managing director of a NYC-based organization that helps various institutions with their fundraising goals.

“If it ever does replace Facebook, that’s a long time coming,” Martignetti says. “It’s an additional burden for my social media manager. I have to weigh the benefits and the risks.”

“I would create a presence there but I wouldn’t have my social media manager actively updating the way she does my Twitter stream and my Facebook page,” Martignetti says. “Then I would make it more robust and make it something she does actively if I saw a good amount of my business contacts joining.”