By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking

Total Media’s Head of Digital, Celine Saturnino, believes anyone dismissing Google+ as just another social network is not aware of the benefits it brings:

She says that 'the blogs and digital news sites might be churning out news stories to the tune of ‘Google+ is dead’, but anyone who writes off the fast-growing social network is simply not using the platform properly'.

Celine says shat Total Media regularly advocate the use of Google+ business pages to our clients for three key reasons: Google+ Circles, Google Search and the Google+ analytics tool.

Most social media sites don’t allow you to send targeted messages to specially selected groups of people, but Google Circles is a nifty site feature which allows you to group and segment your users by subject. In this way, you can directly communicate with individual groups with targeted messages. And because the number of active users on Google+ is steadily rising (150m monthly active users and 50% signing in daily - Google I/0 2012, June), that’s a pretty huge pool of people to reach.

Celine adds that 'although Facebook allows users to send messages to defined groups (friends, family and acquaintances), it hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much take-up as Google Circles.'

'In terms of search, Google+ is an essential tool for business because it can help to increase your organic visibility as well as help drive stand-out in paid listings. The latter is delivered by the integration of the +1 buttons in paid listings. This integration has also been extended across the Google Display Network (GDN) which can help expand reach. When a user has +1’d a Display Network ad, Google will then include that ad in the auction for any page a friend visits.'

Total Media, says Celine, believe that as Google continues to plug its many websites into its search engine, like Google Places and YouTube for example, so it will include Google+ business pages.

She says that 'another reason Google+ is such a neat solution for business is its analytics tool. Anyone who has used Google’s Analytics software will agree that it’s wide ranging in its functionality, but with the addition of the social reporting add-on, businesses can do more than see how many people are landing on their page. By integrating the web and other social platforms, the Google+ social reporting tool gives you a complete overview of how audiences are engaging with your content. No other social networking site provides you with free quality data to this degree.

Finally, she adds that if none of the above has managed to sway you on the benefits of having a Google+ business page, then at the very least incorporate a Google Plus button on your website. Other Google users (and there are millions of active daily users) can then share your content on their own social pages. Google recognises any Google plus as an endorsement and to that affect will rank your page higher in its search listings.'

'Google+ is not just another social network. Looking at their recent investments and acquisitions - Katango, SocialGrapple and Clever sense, for example — it all points to social war — Google is tooling up to the back teeth and Facebook had better be ready with more to offer businesses.'

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