The Underdog of the Social World

In today’s digital world, social media plays a vital role in how we communicate, shop for new products and services and keep ourselves entertained. As PR professionals, social media has also shifted the way we need to think and strategize on behalf of our clients. It has given us a direct outlet to reach our clients’ customers which requires a smart approach to ensure messages are made in a clear, concise and engaging manner.

It’s undeniable that social media has seen exponential growth over the past couple of years. As it continues to expand, what do you think the second largest social network is based on active monthly users around the globe, behind Facebook?  While most people would guess Twitter, it is actually Google+, according to a GlobalWebIndex report released this month. Since its launch in June of 2011, many people have been skeptical of the platform’s future, some even deeming it as a Google flop. In reality, the site has grown steadily and has met Google’s expectations. According to a Huffington Post social media infographic, 625,000 people join the social networking site every day, and active users spend more than 60 minutes a day across Google products. It is also a resourceful tool for businesses, websites using the +1 button increase page traffic by 350%.

Dave Llorens’ Fast Company article from earlier this year discusses Google’s ultimate plans for the site, which despite popular belief was not designed to overpower Facebook, but to gain important consumer insights similar to what Facebook has been able to do, in order to enhance its advertising offerings by customizing ads based on users’ online activity. Google also uses Google+ as the backbone to connect its other properties such as YouTube, Google Maps, Images, Offers, Books and more.

What sets Google+ apart from the other social properties is its connection with Google. Local businesses use Google+ to show up in Google’s local pages, bloggers connect their blogs to Google Authorship to reach new users and gamers utilize the wide selection of games and videos available to them through the exclusively through the platform.

Google+ pages also allow you to group your friends into circles based on any criteria that you’d like, for example demographics, interests or any friends/acquaintances. You can then reach out directly to specific circles or to the group as a whole. The most recent addition to Google+ is the launch of Google+ Hangouts On Air, which allows you to broadcast live to an unlimited number of guests for FREE.  The broadcast streams via YouTube and can be accessed by using a personalized source code for the event. The White House recently took advantage of the new service, when Vice President Joe Biden hosted a Fireside Hangout to discuss the White House Policy recommendations on preventing gun violence. Companies are also embracing this channel to reach customers. For example, Chevrolet recently announced that it will unveil the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette during a live Hangout event.

As easy as it is to focus on Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest when developing a social strategy or campaign, be sure to consider Google+ as you’re in the planning stages. As Google continues to develop new programs and platforms for the social site, it’s only going to continue to grow.

Have you joined Google+? If so, how do you use it and what have you found that you like best/least about it?

--Colleen Murphy - @c_murphy33

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