What does Google+ mean to your small business? Yes, it’s a networking application to share messages, photos, videos, and so on. But Google+ co-opts Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and introduces elements we haven’t seen before. Here are some ideas for how your small business might implement features such as Circles, Sparks, Hangout, and Stream.
Circles are groups of friends.
You label each circle. What you share within one circle stays there and does not share with other circles – unless you direct it to. Circles avoid that “share with everyone” problem in Facebook.
Google users might have separate Circles for friends and relatives. However, the small business owner could create one Circle for vendors, another for customers, and another for advisors. In addition to communicating back and forth with members of your Circles, you can instant message, chat live, or video chat. And, you click and drag to add or delete members.
A Google+ icon appears at the top of Google products. It notifies users of Google+ contacts. A drop down reveals conversations in progress, allowing you to observe or join. It also lets you access all your other Google apps: Picasa Web Albums, Google profile, Google+ Stream, Buzz, and Google contacts.
Sparks are similar to Twitter Tweets.
A business owner would enter a list of interests: product lines, customer needs, product applications, business news, etc. Sparks report browsing traffic in these areas.
A Hangout is a Skype-like feature.
You can organize a live video meeting or sales presentation with up to 10 members of a Circle. You could conduct a morning meeting while you are traveling or introduce a product line to a group of customers.
The Stream refers to your conversation threads.
You can post your personal thoughts, likes, or dislikes just as you do on Facebook’s Wall. But, you could also use the Circles to manage your business communication and your privacy.
Despite the hype, Google+ is not yet available. What we know comes from tech media that have enjoyed a preview. You can sign up on a wait list until Google+ is ready. I predict people will continue their social networks, but Google+ will be the way to go for small business operations.
by Steven Schlagel