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Google+ is the latest social network you need to be aware of, according to Lisa Barone, chief branding officer of Outspoken Media. "Google+ is Google's very own social network. Whether you realize it or a not, you probably already have a personal profile, so you should optimize that as much as you can to help find like-minded people. You can also create a page for your business, similar to Facebook brand pages. Google's going to be pushing this pretty hard."
Google+ allows you to connect with anyone else (friends, coworkers, acquaintances, family, etc.) and share links, photos and/or messages with them. It also has game and site pages.
There are three things to pay attention to with Google+:
- Circles: Unlike Facebook, you can group your connected people into what are called "circles," allowing you to share links/messages with a certain subset of your connections [e.g. only share this spring break video with my friends, not my family], as opposed to all of your friends.
- Video hangouts: Google+ also allows you to set up group video chat rooms where everyone can set up their webcam and chat with each other. You'll be able to see a separate window for each person in the chatroom and hear everyone speaking.
- Integration with Google: If you use lots of Google apps (Gmail, Picasa, YouTube, etc.), you'll notice that there's a real tight integration with Google+. For example, your Gmail contacts will automatically be available to be added to your circles and any photos you post in Picasa will automatically be available to post to Google+. Basically, if you're already using Google stuff, it makes Google+ a lot easier and better to use.
Janet Fouts, a social media coach, and founder of Tatu Digital Media, said she thinks Google+ has a huge value for business owners to connect with the local community. "The most important thing you can do online for your business in 2012 is to set up a profile on Google and add local information. Be sure to have a mobile version of your website too, people are searching for local information on their mobile devices, don't get left behind."
Google+ takes the best parts of Twitter and Facebook, Fouts added, and pulls it together with the outrageous power of Google for search engine optimization. "People talk about all kinds of subjects on this network and you can sort people you connect with by subject."