Having fiddled with Google Buzz and Google Wave when they first came out, I was not excited about Google+. In addition to being disappointed by Buzz and Wave, I wondered if I would have space in my life for another social option. More importantly, I wondered whether my clients and IBN members would. But after spending a few hours clicking around and checking things out, even though it's still early, I see great value in Google+. This screencast (3:47) shares some of the features I like most. (Sorry, haven't figured out how to work the zoom feature yet … Click the full screen option under the player to enlarge the video.)
Here are 10 reasons I think Google+ is worth the time of every small business owner, in particular those who make and sell handmade products.
- Picasa integration. Most handmade entrepreneurs use Flickr heavily to show off their wares. Flickr charges for more than 300MB per month. Google+ offers unlimited photo storage on Picasa, which Google owns. Since Google owns Picnik, the ease with which you will probably soon be able to edit and create collages in one place may just be awesome. It just might also make your product photos more easily findable in Google's search engine. Hmmm.
- Video integration. With “hangouts,” you can have a live video conversation with whomever you want, viewing up to 10 people live on video at the same time. This makes it easy and fast to connect live with people to plan events, share information and ideas, and just have fun with friends in your handmade community.
- Circles. With “circles,” you can create discrete streams of conversation with certain people. For example, you could set up a circle that includes a group of your wholesale customers and send them tips on how to market your new product line. They could ask questions of you and help each other move products from shelf to buyer faster and more efficiently. If you teach classes, you could set up a circle of people and integrate it to password protected instructional videos on YouTube (also owned by Google).
- Search. It's too early to see how using Google+ will impact search engine results, but since Google owns search …. Hmmm.
- Clean interface. When you make the products you sell, you can leverage an advantage over people selling just about anything else because of the color and artistry your products often display. The Google+ interface, (at least now) now unencumbered by ads, looks like a super place to post large photos of your products. And what about an easy link through to Google Checkout. Again, hmmm. (Perhaps Google will start pushing ads to Google+, but maybe not (and I hope not) since their other advertising profit centers work pretty well without it.)
- Presentations. if you use Google's Presentation feature to create slides sharing the features of your products, you can easily push them to a stream of people who want to see your latest goodies. Google Presentation is easy to use, and most handmade businesses only need good photos to do quickly create an impressive slide show. Share the Presentation in your wholesale customer circle to introduce a new product line. What a great way to be add value to a marketing activity.
- Sticky posts. It looks like, similar to FaceBook Groups, Google+ pushes the posts with the most and newest comments to the top of the stream. You can use this as a signal to monitor what your circle participants consider most important or useful. This could be a helpful listening tool.
- Google Reader integration. It doesn't look like Google Reader (which I love) is seamlessly integrated into Google+ yet, but I hope that changes. If it does, it will create a powerful way to efficiently receive and then share relevant content with people in your circles.
- Unlimited streams. Because you create discrete circles with specific people segmented however you want, you can streamline and control how information is pushed to you. For example, you can have separate circles (as shown in the screencast) with thousands of people in them, but you can segment them into different circles so only have to pay attention to what interests you at a given time. This is far superior to FaceBook, which pushes everything you LIKE to you en masse, one item after another with no segmentation, save for their cumbersome “create a list” option.
- Sparks. Sparks is a super-cool feature that allows you to find things that interest you and share them quickly with your entire Google+ “family,” or with specific streams you select. This is a hot feature that allows you to share the latest events and news in the INDIE and handmade community with all of your friends, or just some of them.
I love how Google+ makes it easy for me to connect with discrete groups of individual people on a more personal level.
I think you'll also like how your completed Google+ Profile looks too. It's clean and neat, and far more attractive than anything I've ever seen on FaceBook. Here's my Google+ Profile.
One final thought — if Google+ catches on with consumers, you may have to work harder to reach your retail customers. I say this because, if people can more easily divide specific information into streams, there will be more segmentation of interests and ideas. This may make it more challenging to penetrate circles of people with shared interests.
FaceBook seems designed to more easily let others in with a click of a LIKE button. Google+ seems designed to more easily keep others out by making it easy to include some people while excluding others — in a circle for example. That's a good thing for you as a consumer, but maybe not so much as a company that sells products to them. I could be way off on this, and look forward to other thoughts in this regard.
Google+ is being rolled out as we speak, and if you cannot access it now, you should be able to shortly. If you don't have a Google account, now would be a good time to set one up. Check out all things Google here.
Question: What do you think of Google+ so far?