First introduced in mid-2011, Google+ is Google’s latest attempt to conquer social media. Although Google+ originally was invitation-only, on September, 2011 Google+ became open to the public, with business pages launched in the beginning of November. With Google’s social media service having passed the 90 million user mark just seven months after launch, Google+ is a service businesses cannot afford to ignore.

Here are five things you should know about Google+:

1) Inter-connectivity:

Much has been made of Google’s recent decision to consolidate their privacy policies, and the information they collect from their users. One thing is clear: Google is no longer just a search engine. They are an Internet company with a wide range of services, all of which inter-connect with each other. Google is even developing their Direct Connect feature, designed to help individuals connect directly with a business that has a Google+ page. This further highlights the importance of Google+ in a company’s marketing strategy.

2) Google+ Circles:

Google+ makes it very easy to administer followers, even sending targeted messages to specific sub-groups. The key is to setup your Circles, with very clear, specific criteria. As your business page gains more followers, this will make it much easier to clearly communicate with them.

3) Sharing:

Closely related to #2 is how easy Google+ makes it to share information. Because Circles allow everyone with a Google+ account to organize their friends and acquaintances into separate groups, when you post something interesting on your Google+ page, it is very easy for fellow Google+ users to share your post with specific groups of people most likely to to enjoy your post. In a sense, this makes Google+ a very targeted advertising tool.

4) Brand Control:

One advantage Google+ has over competing social media services, such as Facebook, is easier brand control. While a follower can certainly comment on posts, they are not allowed to start brand new conversations on your page. This makes it easier to control the general direction of conversation about your company on your Google+ page.

5) Promotion:

As with any tool, the degree with which you use it will determine how effective it is. A Google+ badge on your website, a +1 button and a link to your Google+ page in your email signature are all important steps to building a following.
As Google’s most successful foray into social media, Google+ is here to stay. The sooner your business takes advantage of it, the sooner it will reap the rewards.
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