I'm fairly obsessed with Google's new Google+ social network. I even wrote up 50 ideas and speculations about Google+ on my own site. For you, I'd like to talk about what parts of Google+ I see working and not working for small business. First off, I know you might be rolling your eyes at having to consider another social network. But for you, my friends, I say that it's worth it. Or it will be. Stick with me on this.
What Is Google+?
Google+ is a social network, closest in style to Facebook, where one can post status updates incorporating text, video, photos and/or links. Comments appear below such posts. You can determine who to follow and group them in "Circles" so that you can choose where to place your attention. Plus, you can send your messages out to a specific individual, to a specific circle, to all your circles or to the public at large, meaning that you control both the output and the input of this messaging. What makes Google+ a bit more interesting than other networks is that, well, it's Google, which means that it's integrated with the No. 1 search engine, the No. 2 search engine (YouTube) and several other Google products that used to not make much sense together, but should soon. (Think about communications plus document collaboration when adding Google Docs).
Why is it sexy?
Google+ has some real potential to be amazing, partly because of Google's dominance in search. There's a bit more to it, though. Google was measuring page rank heavily based on how many people were linking to the page for information. But this, of course, was easy to game, plus Google realized that this didn't count the value of transient links coming from places like Twitter and Facebook. By Building Google+, Google has built a system to better understand what humans want to share, and how many humans choose to participate with that sharing. Thus, they'll know rather quickly the value of content shared through their platform by the actions people take there, which is much easier to track (deeply) than stuff done off-site.
Because Google+ pulls together more and more pieces of Google technology into one environment, it means that users can easily (without thinking much about it) educate advertisers about their likes and dislikes. That's not EXACTLY a benefit to you, until you decide to place AdSense ads. But think about it: Facebook ads really work well insofar as how well and deeply they can target the demographic you seek. With Google+, the level of depth of knowledge about each user is going to be off the charts. And, because it's Google, and 163 million people (give or take) already have Gmail accounts, it means that Google+ will get to a big user base reasonably fast. I'm already seeing grandmothers (no lie; she has 14 grandkids) on there, and that's not just the nerd crowd.
Google+ isn't yet ready for business
Profiles in Google+ are set up for personal accounts. There aren't business profiles (officially) yet. But that "yet" is written in soft crayon on a hot frying pan. Business pages will come soon. Think about it. Google Places gives small businesses a very detailed presence inside of Google search, and the ability to port that Places data into your business profile account will be super simple. It WILL come, and it will be for you.
In the meantime, set up your personal profile in there the moment you can, and then do your best to start following some of the people using the heck out of the service (like me). We're sharing lots of ideas on how this might eventually be great for your business. Fellow OPEN Forum author John Jantsch is in there, to name just another reason why you should get on that.
See you on Google+? I hope so!