he whats, whys and wherefores of Google+ in 2016 image.

“I just don’t like Google+ It’s confusing”

“It seems like a random collection of apps that don’t really work well together”

“It does what other social networks do but not as well as they do it”

“I don’t like the circles thing – I just want to follow people by clicking a button”

Just some of the comments that we have heard in the past about Google’s much-maligned social network Google+. We can’t have been the only ones hearing this though because back in November Google carried out a major overhaul of Google+ and they have addressed (most) of the issues raised above.

A screenshot showing the 'post' page on your profile on Google+.The new look is more streamlined and sleeker. It is now based around topics and interests with collections and communities given far more prominence. The whole user interface appears to have been redesigned with mobile devices in mind and, in fact, there are some features (such as the creation of events) that are only available in the mobile app.

Major changes to Google+

The main menu icon that you clicked in the top left of your screen to reveal navigation links has changed the way it works. Now click it once to reveal the menu and once to hide it – no more sliding out when you hover over it. 

The introduction of a new post “action button”. This hovers in This image shows the new post action button that is now on Goggle+.
the bottom right of your screen on the desktop version and
is a quick way to start creating a new post.


Removal of the link to pages from main menu – you now have to manage your pages via clicking on your profile photo in the top right. You will be directed to “
Google’s My Business” which is intended to be a single dashboard where you can manage everything about your business.

This image from Google+ shows the 'share' icons. The icons include Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and copy link.

Sharing has become more inclusive – you can now share to Twitter etc. or easily get a link to the post to share elsewhere. Just look for the share icon which is also new to G+

Removal of events and hangouts from the desktop version – Google Hangouts is now “hangout” at a new dedicated location https://hangouts.google.com/

 

Removal of certain photo editing capabilities – Google photos is now a standalone app and not part of G+ though you can still share photos that you upload to Google Photos on G+ easily.

Changes to Google+ Local Pages

Google local pages are more or less no more. Google has changed the way that it approaches local business information. Users no longer create a local page in Google+ instead they use “my business” to create locations for the business.

This image displays how Google+ displays the apps that are available such as maps, YouTube, AdWords, and Photos.For example, if you were a business with several branches you would create locations for each of these branches in my business and enter relevant details for each e.g. opening hours and contact details. This information is used to supply locally relevant search results when users search using the Google search engine.

 

 

Interestingly, when you create a location in My Business, a much slimmed down version of a G+ local page is created for that location through which you can access the reviews etc.


This image shows search results on Google to show how local businesses that are registered on Google+ are located Confused? You wouldn’t be the only one. The main difference is in where the data is entered.  Google wants you to view all Google apps together as one “place” so by entering the data in your My Business dashboard you are sharing it with all Google apps – maps, search, G+ etc.

 

Mobile Responsive

The new user interface is a responsive design and will adapt nicely to smaller screen sizes. This and the fact that some functionality is only available in the Android app shows that Google wants to encourage us to use G+ via mobile. The cynics among us may feel that this is because mobile use allows them greater access to information about you which they can then use to keep their search results (and advertising) relevant and highly targeted.  

So, Should You Use Google+ to market your business? As with much of social, I think it depends on:

  • It is a must for local businesses to use ‘my business’ to ensure you appear in search. 
  • If you are a business which has niche products / services have a look at ‘collections’.  This allows you to group your posts together around a common topic.  Others can follow your collection – it is an opportunity for you to become known as an expert in your niche.  
  • If you are a business which appeals to a niche audience – have a look at ‘communities’.  Communities allow you to create groups of engaged people who want to talk about your products / services
  • If you produce content, consider using Google+ to share your content – it appears to affect search results.

In summary, Google+ has been reinvented and is worth another look during 2016 – particularly to hold conversations about a topic and tap into a relevant audience.

What do you think about the new Google+? Are the changes for the better?

 

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