With thousands of hours of managing brands across social media under my belt, I would think my opinion should matter, and I have to say, out of all the networks I've worked with, Google Plus just rocks! Part of what makes the network a true champion in the world of social media is the fact its heavily centered around now gigantic interest based communities, it's the true network of choice for professionals, a place to easily find and connect with your peers, and the fact that Google upholds its values in keeping with the idea of a "no hands tied web", where people communicate freely, just makes getting on board that much more worth it. Regardless of what your interests are, there's a community for that! And, unlike most other networks, it's the true network for learning, and I find it highly doubtful you'd find so much expertise piled in one place as you would on Google Plus.
Don't get me wrong, there's been some hiccups along the way, including redesigns the network members didn't always care for (I've had my rants!), not to mention the mass media bashing them for being a ghost town (maybe for them it was, certainly wasn't for us!). Oh, and remember all those angry Youtubers who were upset they were forced to use the network in order to keep their channels? They're all piling onto the network now anyway. In fact, our Gaming Community Gamers Bay had so many "Let's Play" videos from Youtube content creators we literally had to create a new community just for them, The Gamers Video Archive in order to manage the over flow! They're still piling on today!
Communities Bring People and Interests Together:
Regardless of what inspires you, the network houses a corresponding community for virtually every interest imaginable. From the more niche communities like Star Wars, to Harry Potter, or the Walking Dead, to ones with more generalized interests like Video games (Plus Gaming now has over 889,000 members! Not to mention the awe inspiring Arcade and Pinball and Retro Games communities), the network has you covered on getting the latest scoop for your most desired subjects.
The Network For Learning:
While Linkedin has long touted itself as being the network for professionals, I'm sorry, but I just never saw it. However, upon my first glance of Google Plus, the first thing I realized is the wealth of knowledge this network held. You wouldn't believe how many "No Name" bloggers I've seen become world class writers over the course of my 3 year stay there. In fact, I was merely one of them. I had a background in IT, and despite my college education, nine tenths of what I know today I can directly attribute to those I connected with and learned from on this network.
When I first joined Google Plus, I knew almost nothing about social media itself, but many thanks to those I connected with in Strategic Social Networking, I was able to realize my goals and dreams. When I joined the community back 3 years ago, it had less than 3,000 members, and today I run the community which has since ballooned to over 109,000 members at the time of this writing, and I actively manage the media organization that owns it, along with multiple other brands, including this website. I and others who worked to create newly minted brands on the network could not have gotten there without the collective knowledge we attained from the relationships we built on the network.
Much of the knowledge that drives this network is centered upon communities themselves. If you're seeking to find ideas for a new career path, or even if you're already college educated and just want to grow your current abilities into something more, I highly recommend getting on board with Google+ communities.
Besides the learning aspects, as I've mentioned in the past, much of the opportunities we seek in life truly do arise out the relationships we build with others. The art of networking with those in your field of expertise can really have a profound effect on your level of future success. And trust me, there's no better place to do this than Google Plus!
While other social networks have centered their attention on keeping people half-fast connected, Google went further in keeping ideas connected as well, and not just with its use of communities, but with the introduction of Collections. As a community owner myself, one of my biggest concerns was the fact I had no way to keep track of the posts the community loved the most, and the ones that really mattered to myself and others. Today, Collections solved this problem entirely. There's no more digging through bloated community sections to find that awesome post from last year.
To easily add posts to a collection, just click the drop down arrow next to the +1 symbol, and share to the collection of your choice.
Google's Integration of Products Makes Google Plus a Better Bet:
Unlike other stand alone networks like Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, Google Plus is well integrated with many of Google's other products, such as Youtube, Gmail, and their organic search engine, giving users the ability to have a one stop shop for all their daily internet wants and needs. This extensive integration likely plays a key role in what drives the conglomerate tech company today.
Brands too can benefit enormously from the aspects of this integration. For instance, we've integrated Gamers Bay's many social channels throughout Google in order to keep our members and followers connected, and keep people aware of all we have to offer them. Gamers Bay brand page is directly connected with its Youtube channel, community, and many other social channels as well. Likewise, all 3 social channels are directly integrated with the online games section of this website. This integration has been key to the sustained growth of Gamers Bay as a gaming news organization. If you have more to offer your audience, don't you want them to know about it?
Communities can not only be integrated with corresponding brand pages on the network, but unlike with Facebook Groups, you can create communities directly with your brand page itself! At present, Facebook provides no possible way for brands to connect or merge their Groups and Brand pages together, while Google actually puts brands in control!
Another benefit to brands on Google Plus is the fact that Google themselves remain an open book in terms of letting both brands and people communicate freely. While networks like Facebook who hide brand page's posts from their followers, Google lets the users themselves decide what they like, what they should see, and what they interact with. Google understood the whole point of social networking was for people to have the ability connect and socialize with others. While other networks like Linkedin and Facebook continue to put up barriers to communication, Google tore down the walls!
If you feel your blog, brand, or ideas are stuck back in a corner on Facebook, maybe you should give Google Plus a try. Just as with other networks, Google does provide ways for brands to promote their content across all of Google's products, but unlike the others, they don't do so at the cost of holding content for ransom. It's the one network you don't need money to grow an audience with, but you do have the additional options to promote for a fee if you choose to do so.
As for the typical social user, while I can't speak for everyone else, I can say that when I follow a brand or person that interests me, I probably expect to be able to see the updates from these entities in my home stream. As mentioned before, Google won't hide the ideas, people, brands, and communities, that matter to you the most. Instead, they put your interests first, the way it should be!
All being said, I truly honor Google's approach to keeping with the idea of an open web where people and brands can both communicate freely; and this is exactly what they've done with their champion of social networks Google Plus. If the rest of the social platforms like Linkedin want to continue the trend of forcing people to insert a quarter to message their friends, or Facebook's approach of holding your latest blog post for ransom unless you pay, go right ahead, but I will have no part of it. Why get pinned down by increasingly anti-social networks, when you get on Google Plus, where you the user are in total control!