Lately, there seems to be a rise in the usage of Google+ as a platform for expounding theories and explanations, as well as the building engagement with others. How effective is the practice, and for what purpose(s)?
A number of people I have in my circles have begun using Google+ as what amounts to a blog. Some go the "extra mile" and publish virtual tomes.
Mark Traphagen recently put one up, "Quo Vadis Google+? What's Next for Google's Social Network?" that generated a fair amount of discussion. At nearly 2,700 words, it's a long post, but at least he was kind enough to provide a TL;DR summary for those whose eyes glaze over quickly. And giving the devil his due, he's responding to every comment and building (dare I say it?) relationships!
But one has to wonder...what are the upsides and downsides of this tactic? What's the goal? Are there multiple goals? Are they realistic?
In Traphagen's case, I'm sure that branding was a major consideration. Between his own former brand and his current affiliation with Eric Enge, he had a nice head start, but the exposure from his constant presence on Google+ certainly couldn't have hurt.
Google+ is a great venue for establishing credibility and authority among colleagues in the digital marketing world. And with Google+ activity showing up in the SERPs, visibility with potential clients is an additional plus. If branding is what you're after, I'd call Google+ a worthwhile investment of effort.
OK, this one is a bit controversial, with folks on both sides of the "does it exist or not" argument. Wherever you stand, it's still a potential win. You either become an authority in the eyes of others or you become an authority in the eyes of others and Google. And even if it doesn't impact rankings in any fashion yet, that doesn't preclude it from eventually playing a part.
For what it's worth, I think it's already being played with in Mountain View and once they have a sufficient percentage of entities catalogued and ranked, as well as a comfort level of the quality of the data and their algorithms, I firmly believe it willbe in play.
While I'm sure that hyperactive Google+ posters see a boost in traffic, I doubt it's of great benefit to them, at least in terms of sales. Marketers make crappy customers.
Put more accurately, marketers can find better places to focus their efforts than trying to market to other marketers. We're a cynical lot. And frankly, the non-marketer pool to draw from on Google+ isn't exactly awe-inspiring.
That said, there are aspects of Google+ that lend themselves very nicely to marketing to those outside of marketing circles. Communities attract novices and site owners interested in learning the basics – establishing oneself as an expert and a tutor can be a nice inroad.
Hangouts On Air are another channel for pulling in potential customers, and the YouTube videos of Hangouts can be used elsewhere for promotion of your services. So Google+ isn't a total loss on this front, by any means.
This is certainly a benefit of any interaction that's carried out properly. Constructive interaction can help build relationships and that can provide professional benefits of many colors. It also tends to build moreinteraction, which, in turn, increases visibility.
Everything we do needn't be aimed to provide a direct marketing benefit. Any long-time, successful marketer will tell you that a substantial portion of their success comes from indirect effects.
Is This Becoming a Trend?
I don't think it's accurate to say that it's really becoming a trend yet, but the practice seems to be increasing somewhat. I don't foresee it becoming a major channel to drive convertible traffic any time soon, though.
With David Besbris replacing Vic Gundotra over at Google+, we can probably expect to see some changes. Google has already said that there are additions and improvements we can expect to see on Google+ in the coming weeks.
It's only natural that Besbris will have a few ideas he's been mulling over for a while. How those improvements change the way we use G+ and the benefits that can be derived remains to be seen.
But I'm betting there'll be new opportunities. In the meantime, are you taking advantage of those that are already there? No? Why the hell not?