The Evolution of Google+ Continues

The Evolution of Google+ Continues

Those of us working in CSR and sustainability communications know that getting content OUT into the world is only the beginning. We are constantly on the hunt to reach the right audience— those who are interested corporate social responsibility and will take action. Any opportunity to boost awareness, get the news read, inspire policy makers or improve search rankings —all while tracking results — is a worthy one. Google plays an enormous role in content discovery and when Google makes demands or gives advice, communicators listen.

Over four years ago, I anxiously awaited my invite to Google+. As the invites spread across my office like wildfire, I stared at my computer screen, disappointed. That disappointment remained with underlying hints of hope, a flurry of activity here and there but NOTHING to inspire me to become a G+ power user. The transition of Google+ was filled with strong-armed tactics, forcing users to create a G+ account in order to access other Google features. Note: Social media is my profession and I ended up with four personal accounts. FOUR.

Like many others, I did my best to oblige — as reluctant as I was. After all, this is Google; master of search and analytics. Having an awesome Google+ page for an organization was supposed to improve search results. Awesome. Keeping up with algorithm changes with Google has become nearly impossible but integrations with G+ felt totally doable. Too bad Google+ failed at valuable analytics and the content of the G+ Pages appears to do little or nothing for improving search results (Note: Many localized businesses/organizations saw improvement but not much impact for national or global names).

Now, after cornering nearly every user and forcing them to create a G+ account, the “+” is now gone. While I can’t say that I will miss it I am curious as to the impact that this will have. Is this just another defunct Google pet project that we will all soon forget about? I say no.

While Google may have dropped the “+” the platform seems to still be very much alive. Google Hangouts is now a stand-alone app and is a GREAT tool for hosting a LIVE conversation with stakeholders about new CSR and sustainability initiatives or that hot new citizenship or diversity report. Photos have migrated away from the Google+ platform into its own app as well. This is another great tool to create a photostream to showcase the most recent company-wide volunteering effort. 

Losing the “+” did not slow down Google’s efforts to evolve search into a more social engine. Earlier this year, it was announced that Google now has a partnership with Twitter. Welcome to real-time search. Currently, this has only rolled out on mobile. Check out my recent post to find out what that means.

These changes to Google+ might come with mixed reaction, but I think Google should receive some applause here. (Yes, I just typed that.) Google has shown users that it listens to our complaints and praise and adjusts, all in a world where social media has warped the sense of time and everything is on instant demand; even social networks themselves can’t keep up.

Did anyone notice that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updated their platforms in recent weeks? Love or hate these changes, these networks are just trying to keep up with user trends, shortened attentions spans and the demand of businesses to mature. For social media professionals like me, no two days are ever the same.

My advice? Keep making awesome content. Tell your CSR and sustainability story in interesting ways. Make the content bite-sized, entertaining and easy to digest. Don’t be afraid to share it on multiple networks but proceed with caution. ALWAYS consider the format of content and the audience of the network on which it is being posted.

As for Google+’s role in the social landscape? The plus sign might be gone, but Google executives insist the social network is still very much alive. I say it’s just another transition and we should all stay tuned.

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