Recently a local AM talk radio show was discussing failed social media networks; of course Myspace, Digg and del.icio.us were on the list, but Google+ was also mentioned. I found it strange for Google+ to be lumped in with the likes of everyone’s friend Tom, considering the network is definitely alive and not going anywhere anytime soon. But when I put myself in the position of the non-search marketer, I realized how Google+ can seem uninteresting and unnecessary.
Google+ was highly publicized when it first launched in 2011 but, let’s be honest, it kind of fell off the map. It has yet to come close to the popularity of Twitter or Facebook, so I can see how some would consider it a dead platform. But the reality is Google+ is much more than just a social network; it’s Google’s identity engine.
GOOGLE WILL DEFINE YOU! (Whether you like it or not)
Google has already, not so discreetly, alluded to the fact that they are using Google+ activity to better inform their algorithm of who you are as a person. By knowing the people you have in your circles, those who have you in their circles, sharing and the +1s, Google can easily string together your digital identity.
Google notices that you like scuba diving, have recently been to Hawaii, and even have other scuba fans and associations in your circles. Of course Facebook has the same information and could figure out the same details about you with this information. But Google has a few other products that have even more data on you; namely the Google search engine, Gmail and Motorola (Android phones). If you have any or all of these products/accounts, Google can track and tie together your activities across the various products you use. They can go much deeper and have significantly more data about you than Facebook ever will.
Basically, Google has the resources to truly create a fairly detailed and accurate online identity for you, which all has a nice place to live now, Google +.
IS BIG BROTHER NEAR?
I know all this seems a bit like science fiction and the knee jerk reaction to all this would be to stay off Google+ for possible fear of the almighty curating even more information about you, but Google (allegedly) only wants to know your true digital identity so they can do two things:
- Provide you with customized search results (organic results on Google properties)
- Provide you with customized ads (paid ads on Google properties)
The conspiracy theorists will say that this is only the beginning and allowing any company to have that much information on you is dangerous. I agree with this sentiment, but I also see that Google already has a stronghold on search and this will not change anytime soon.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM!
For those that do not actively use Google+, you should. Google will always go to its own products to figure out who you are and what’s the best result for you. They will not use your Facebook data or Twitter account to see what your interests may be. They don’t need to. And since Facebook doesn’t have a search engine that millions of people use every day, if you want to have the best online search experience AND control how your identity is presented online, then you should start using Google+.
I admit it; I am basically saying you should manipulate Google+ to create the identity you want people to see you as online, but only if it makes sense. If you want to be seen as an expert on search marketing but you only post on Facebook and never use your Google+ account, when employers, colleges and professional organizations go to “Google” you online, they won’t see any of it.
Google+ is the way Google plans on showing others your online identity. Of course they won’t give people access to your Gmail account or your private searches, but they can serve up your Google+ profile for relevant industry searches as well as your authorship when you have penned an article about an industry topic on a relevant website (like this one!). What I’m saying is – if you want to make it in life, and control how Google presents you online, you need to start using Google+. Your future online identity is depending on it.
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