Is Google+ worth your time and effort?

“Why should I be interested in Google+?”

This was a common question I both pondered and came upon from others while writing Google+ for Dummies.

It’s a great question – after all, all my friends and family are on Facebook and I’m certainly not going to find them over on a new network by Google, at least not yet.

But the answer kept coming back to me as I got to know those working on the product, and as I started to understand the intentions of the product, that Google+ was not just any other social network.

Google+ is simply a new feature of Google. In fact, I think it’s very likely that in the future we will see the “+” removed from Google+. That’s evident with the path they’re taking now.

I thought it would be interesting to show some of the elements of Google that Google+ has called home:


Plus is coming to Search


The biggest, and perhaps most evident component of Google that Google+ has become commonplace is Google.com itself: Google Search.

If you have joined Google+ and are signed into Google, you should already be seeing search results augmented by pictures of your Google+ friends that have “+1’d” articles in search results. Google is also rumored to be weighting articles with more “+1’s” with higher rankings in search results.

It’s therefore to your advantage to get on Google+ and to start building a presence. The experience will also become more personal as you do so, as your friends’ +1’s and interests will now play a factor in the results you see.

On top of your friends from Google+, Google just launched a new feature of Google+ called Direct Connect. By setting up a Google+ Page for your brand on Google+ (Google’s answer to Facebook Pages), when you type in the Google search bar a plus sign (+) followed by the name of any brand that is set up correctly, you’ll be taken straight to that brand’s Plus Page, straight from Google Search.

This gives brands more reason to be on Google+ and even more reason for brands to include Google’s +1 icons and badges in order to get this to work. This means not only will you see Google+ on Google products themselves, but on the websites you visit as well.


Plus is coming to Android


The second biggest reason you should be on Google+ is Android.

I predict that in the future, Google+ will be integrated by default into the Android operating system. This means there will be no app to install.

Once you give Android your Google ID, it will automatically bring your friends from Google+ into every element of the Android experience.

Already in Android, you can set up your phone to automatically upload photos and videos to Google+.

After installing the Google+ app, Google+ appears in the default options for the share menu in any app that intends to allow you to share. I think all these elements will be parts of Android in the future.


Plus in the “Sandbar”


You’ve already seen it, but in most Google products there is a bar at the top, which has been coined “The Sandbar” by people inside and out of Google.

Notice the “Share” button: If you click that in any Google product, you can immediately share to Google+. Or, let’s imagine that Google+ as a separate site and social network goes away. Just click your notifications and you have immediate access, from any Google product, to all your Google+ updates without ever needing to leave your favorite Google products.

Technically, you don’t even need to visit plus.google.com to use Google+ — see what I mean?


Follow the Plus money: Adsense


Of course, Google wouldn’t be Google if they couldn’t make money. All of this ties back to Google’s ad platform, Adsense.

With Google+’s social layer, Google now has data they can put into the ads that makes them more social and more interesting to you, the user. In your search results they can show you your friends interested in that ad. They already allow you to +1 ads you like. Google can also add this rich data to display ads in their other products, similar to what Facebook does.

This all just touches the surface. What Google is doing right now is leading them to a future that makes Google, as a whole, more social. It brings your friends, and with that eventually their family members into the Google experience.

If you’re not yet on Google+, I suggest you get on, set up a profile and learn how you can start building your network.

Even if it isn’t what you want it to be right now, as long as you’re one of the billions that use Google products (even search), you’ll be using Google+ in the future even if it no longer has the “+” sign. I guarantee it. Just as it was worth my investment, I think it will be worth yours.

Jesse Stay is an author, speaker and consultant on the topics of social media technologies, marketing and strategy. Most recently, he wrote Google+ For Dummies, Portable Edition. You can circle him on Google+ at profiles.google.com/jessestay.


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