It may have been only recently that your law firm or business has been encouraging you to become familiar with social network platforms such as Twitter or Linkedin. Indeed it may have been only recently that you feel that you have mastered the basics, grown a sizeable following or even made connections that have led to business for your practice.
Well, if you haven’t been online much in the past month you may have missed what looks set to become the next big social network for professionals: Google+. With over 25 million visitors already, Google Plus has started off on a very positive note. Below are some initial thoughts on the main features of Google Plus, with consideration of why it may be useful for lawyers and other professionals looking to generate business online.
Google Plus Invitation
Google has given each member 150 invitations as it looks to expand Google Plus even further – once you’ve joined you’ll be able to distribute similar invites.
One of the more concise videos on Google+ explains the main features of the Google Plus network best, including discussion of Circles, Hangouts, Sparks etc and, with the help of a ‘social media guru’, suggests why it may indeed be a ‘Facebook killer’:-
Below are two screenshots showing and explaining some of the more prominent features for lawyers and professionals to consider:-
Is Google Plus useful for lawyers or other professionals?
As outlined above, Google Plus has had over 25 million visitors since its inception on June 29th. In its first three weeks it had over 20 million visitors, with the network boasting around 0.007% of total web traffic on July 20th. To put that into perspective, it took Facebook 1,152 days and took Twitter 1,035 days to reach the same level of users. I’ve taken a look at five different areas in which Google Plus may be beneficial:-
1. Stronger relationships with connections
Professional social media use is all about relationships and Google Plus is doing its best to help you to that end. With more space to comment on connections’ posts, more freedom to choose who reads your updates and enhanced features such as Google Hangouts, which let users create online conference-type areas with potential for video conferencing, the emphasis is on allowing people to interact more and, thus, develop stronger relationships. From initial experiences it appears that the more seasoned social media users are those using the service more at the moment, rather than potential clients. That is, however, not necessarily a bad thing as connecting and building relationships with others who may be two or three networks removed from a potential client is still valuable;
2. Less irrelevant noise
Lawyers and other professionals will be able to keep control of what and who they listen to by adding their contacts to their own bespoke “circles”. To some extent this feature is already available on Twitter with lists and on Facebook with groups or pages, although Google Plus gives the user more flexibility and speed in setting up such “circles”;
3. An alternative network
Although Google Plus would like to see itself as the monopolising champion of social networks, it is not going to be that way, at least not for some time. Instead, other current social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook will still be useful in some ways more than others and should not be ignored, not least because many of the users there will not yet be on Google Plus.
4. More interaction?
In the right areas, Google Plus is buzzing with discussion and interaction, which explains the high levels in traffic; indeed, it is built to generate and encourage discussion. On the other hand, a common complaint of my contacts is that there just isn’t enough interaction for them in the right areas or with the right contacts at the moment to justify a lot of time being spent. That’s not to say that there won’t be in the future and indeed in the future when more and more people join Google Plus the level and quality of interaction may be even better than it is currently on Linkedin or Twitter.
5. Greater visibility in search
Some people can still remember the days when Google was just a search engine, or so I’ve been told. Despite all its extra features, it is important to remember that Google’s search engine is still the dominant force in online search. To that end, building a profile on Google Plus, linking back to your firm’s website and other social media accounts and +1’ing your favourite posts is bound to have a positive effect on search engine rankings. In addition, integrating your Google+ profile with your blog posts by using the rel=author function allows your Google+ profile to appear in search e.g. . If you see your name appearing highly for your LinkedIn profile now, just wait until you’ve had your name on Google Plus for a few months. For more on the SEO implications of Google Plus and indeed on the current effect of tweets given that Google Realtime has gone dark, see SEOMoz here .
Unlike Google’s unsuccessful Buzz venture, Google Plus should be here to stay. With the ability to develop stronger connections, hear less irrelevant noise, have an alternative business networking platform, develop more interaction and receive greater visibility in search, Google Plus should be one of the forefront social networks on every professional marketer’s mind today. Again, if you haven’t already joined, please do so via our free invitation: http://bit.ly/MLTGooglePlusInvite and phone us on 0845 620 5664 should you have any queries.