Yes, it's another social media platform. Yes, it often looks like a ghost town with not much engagement.
And yes, it's a suck on your time management plan.
However, there's no way we can continue to ignore Google+ in the social media section of your online marketing strategy.
Google ghost town?
For search engine results, Google is a giant. It has 66 per cent of the search market share in the United States.
There's a reason someone says "just Google it" when you ask a question. It's that good. Heck, I always say if I can't find something with Google, it probably doesn't exist.
Two years ago, Google stared Facebook dead in the eye and launched a social networking platform. While Google+ (G+) was designed to go head-to-head with Mark Zuckerberg's dominant social network, it has yet to take off in popularity.
Google claims 540 million active G+ users; yet, it trails Facebook, which has 1.19 billion active monthly users worldwide.
Let's be honest. Those numbers are a little bloated, considering Google owns YouTube and the video platform's users must now use a G+ account to comment on videos.
Drawing you in
The folks over at Google are a sly bunch. You see, they made two moves in the last couple of months that are starting to make us think we have no choice but to use G+.
In November, it unleashed another algorithm on its search results. Hummingbird is its plan to improve its speech recognition process.
Think about it: how do you conduct a search now? You pick up your smartphone, press the little microphone in the Google search bar and ask "what's the weather in Phoenix like today". We aren't typing "weather Phoenix" anymore.
Conversational, or semantic, search demands of businesses the type of content that answer the questions their customers are asking.
It puts more stress on informative, interesting and shareable content, and less on such search-engine optimization practices as keyword stuffing and link building.
The Hummingbird update includes an ability to read and process your social signals, i.e. how many shares, how many likes and how many tweets, retweets your posts get.
But wait … there's more.
Discover on Google
Shortly after Hummingbird, Google released its plan for +Post ads and the Google Discovery Network.
In a nutshell, +Post ads are like promoted posts on Facebook. Businesses turn their G+ status updates, photos, videos or Hangouts into display ads. Google will then post the ads onto its Display Network.
G+ users have the option to :
- +1 your content
- Share your content
- Comment on the post/ad
- Join a Hangout On Air
- Circle your brand
Google expects the +Post ads to not only improve your user engagement and increase your brand reach, but also to monetize its G+ network.
What does it all mean?
With Hummingbird and +Post ads, Google is warning businesses to get social, if they aren't already.
Your search-engine results will start to depend on your likes, followers, comments and shares across social networks.
Especially on G+, where you'll be expected to promote a few posts and increase your engagement levels.
That means your business needs to build its G+ presence.
Now, if not yesterday.