Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

Google+ is a relative latecomer to the plethora of Social Media platforms and soon after its launch in June 2011 it was dismissed by many as a flop. But a year and a half on it’s still here and its user base is growing rapidly. I’d like to share some of my personal experiences of Google+ and to answer the question “Is Google+ just another irrelevant distraction or could it be an invaluable business tool worth investing time in?”

The first thing I should say is that it’s much more than just another Facebook competitor. Google plus is effectively a hub that integrates all of Google’s products and services. At the time of writing, Google+ already connects seamlessly with Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Search, Google Drive and even YouTube.

Everyone reading this article uses at least some of Google’s services already, even if it is just the ubiquitous search bar or Google Maps on your mobile phone. I admit I have become a bit of a Google fan over the last two years. As well as using it as a search engine. I now use Gmail for my business email. I have linked my domain name emails into Gmail so that I can access my business emails anywhere online and synchronize them with my mobile phone. For the last 19 months I have also been actively using Google+
So what do I use it for? Well, like Facebook, it allows me to set up a personal profile as well as business pages. I use it to connect and communicate with colleagues, clients and suppliers strengthening existing relationships by sharing relevant content that I or others have created. I am now also using it to connect with prospective clients and business partners and I see this usage growing rapidly over the coming year.

What I love about Google+

• It links with Gmail and Google contacts seamlessly so I can easily add new connections to my Google+ circles.

• Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn I love the way I can ‘follow’ people I don’t yet know by adding them to my circles without needing them to approve the connection. This is a great way to see what sort of things they comment and post about and so start to build a relationship.

• I love how easy it is to allocate connections to different ‘circles’ and to use these to selectively share different content with different people. For example I can share client related posts with just the people in my ‘clients’ circle and I can share training related opportunities with just my ‘trainers’ circle.

• I love the quality of material people share on Google+. Unlike Facebook, there is a lot more useful content on Google+ and I find it is now the place I go first to keep up to date on business related topics

• I love the way it integrates with Google+ Local, Google’s replacement for Google Places allowing me to create a local listing that appears when people search within Google Maps.

• I love the way I can quickly and easily video-conference with colleagues and clients for free using Google Hangouts

In conclusion I believe that Google+ is here to stay. With a user base of 500 million and active user count of 235 million a month as at December 2012 it is a serious player. If you aren’t already active on Google+ I recommend you take a look. And please feel free to visit my Google + business page and tell me what you think.