Dennis Hall owns and operates a San Francisco-based small business that is atypical of most. His Avere Group is a multimedia production firm that among other activities, produces documentaries. Another part of his work is Bloggers Embarks, which produces events for luminary bloggers like Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble—such as a tour of the USS Nimitz or of San Quentin Prison.
Despite rubbing such interactive elbows, Hall—like most small business people—has been historically slow to adopt social media platforms; Facebook and Twitter were around for years before he jumped onboard.
But Dennis Hall was on Google+ two days after the search company launched it’s new, promising and explosively growing new social network.
The same goes for Deborah Mersino. She founded and runs Ingeniosis, a nonprofit advocacy group for gifted students, and hosts the weekly Twitter #gtchat group that discusses all aspects on the subject.
It took her all of seven days to get onto G+, as insiders are calling it. She would have been there sooner, but Google is making new users wait in line to get in, as it scales to millions and millions of users.
Mersino said she wanted to see how "Circles, Hangouts and the interface in general would benefit collaboration among educators, parents, psychologists and advocates. I’m only on day two though, so I still have a lot to learn,” she said.
Hall was also motivated to jump in because of Circles.
“I like the Circles’ arrangement in allowing me to organize my friends based on specific topic to enrich conversations, e.g. Documentary production, Social Media Embarks, Foodies, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, etc. Google Translator is great for expanding reach to global friends, so using that in concert with G+ can amplify and deepen relationships globally,” he said.
Mersino and Hall are far from alone. G+ is not yet two weeks old as I write this column. It is still in early beta with some obvious functionality still missing. But several million people have already joined and are embracing it with the sort of passion that has been eroding from social media in the past couple of years.
Unlike previous mass adoptions, small business people can be found wherever I look. And there are several good reasons, but the one primary and compelling reason is that G+ is built on the Circles metaphor—so are most small businesses.
At the core of G+, you create circles based on something you share in common—politics, baseball, entertainment, a school reunion or a love of stupid cat videos.
This new social network allows you to personalize your networks in striking contrast to the Facebook approach where the company seems to assume it knows better than you how to personalize your network.
It seems to me that G+ is unprecedented in its usefulness to small businesses. And thinking like a small business will make you better at Circles, than say, thinking like a branding executive at Proctor & Gamble.
Circles are small and intimate. It’s about people who may already know each other and it has a privacy element that you just don’t find in other social networks.
You can set up a Circle for your closest customers and offer them information and deals, or just the enjoyment of talking to each other.
You can set up a circle that covers your vendors, residents of one neighborhood, to boost a school sports team, or help plan for a local event. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
While other social media plays to being bigger than traditional mass media, G+ plays to the intimacy of the local store. The privacy elements mean you can have conversations being monitored by the franchise around the corner. You can make offers that other guys don’t even know about.
I’ve been following social media since 2004. I have never seen a new product so rapidly adopted or universally praised.
I think its adoption is likely to accelerate because G+ is so simple to learn and use. You already have many customers, partners and prospects hanging out there and that number is likely to grow even faster than Facebook or Twitter grew.
As you probably already know, in such cases, it is always wiser to get there sooner, rather than later.
Oh yes, I almost forgot...one other attribute of G+ is that it's fun. And you just should never underestimate the value of fun in doing business.