Google just unveiled a new Social Network Platform that many are calling a "Facebook Killer". Although I personally don't agree with this reference, there are some interesting features about the new network, both for individuals and in the future, for entities (or businesses).
Joining Google Plus is by invitation only for now, however invites can be sent by anyone who is already on the network. You will need a Google account set-up, or can leverage a Gmail account. Google has sternly said this is a Beta product and they are not yet ready for businesses to have accounts. I say sternly because a number of companies set up accounts anyway, only to have Google delete them last week.
The premise behind this new network is similar to Facebook, whereby you can connect and interact with friends/family/acquaintances and share content or messages. Each of these connections can be put into different groups, which Google Plus refers to as Circles.
You can than share as much or as little as you want with each of your Circles (i.e. groups of connections). Personally, I do like the ease of the drag and drop process to add contacts into a pre-defined “Circle” on your Google Plus account. However, there is no approval process on your end when people add you or vice versa, so it's important to categorize them into a Circle if you aren't looking to share all with everyone.
In summary, Plus offers one central repository for all of your content and digital assets, which means Gmail, Videos, Images, Documents, Calendar, Important Links, etc. are all a click away.
Google Plus offers a few neat options which include:
|Hangouts –|| Through the use of a webcam, this feature allows multiple people to interact in a private video forum. Could open up interesting ideas surrounding consumer oriented marketing (step up from Twitter parties/chats, which are text only)|
|Sparks –||This is an organized way to categorize content by areas of interest, for easy accessibility and topic updates in the future. Examples are: Sports Cars, Recipes, Android, Music, etc.|
In my opinion, there could be some interesting ways for businesses to leverage Google Plus accounts. I think its inevitable Google will pull advertising onto these pages via AdWords contextual ads. That will be another way for companies to leverage this channel, if made available.
The jury is still out on adoption and interest. Most people, outside of those who are internet savvy, super social networkers or techies, haven't heard or don't understand what Plus is. Perhaps once out of beta, Google will go on a mainstream marketing campaign to explain and promote the Plus platform.
Google Plus is different than the "+1" button you see in Google's search results. (The button is only visible to those logged in to a Google account). This gives users a way to endorse websites within search results and allow others they're connected with to see these listings.
The opportunity for businesses here is to add the "+1" button to their website, offering an easy way for visitors to show their endorsement while on the site. Most companies are adding this as a thumbnail image where they currently display other social network logos. Although nothing official has been said by Google, I think it's a safe bet that these endorsements may be used in the search engine algorithm for SEO rankings, and possibly even factor into the Quality Score for SEM with AdWords. Google's always said that relevancy for the searcher matters, so this would be one way to quantify this for individual websites.
Google Analytics offers website integration options for sites that have added "+1". This requires an additional piece of code to be added to your existing analytics java script.