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Should you care about Google+

By: Laura Price, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Keller Williams Realty International

“Toto, I have a feeling were not in Kansas anymore

Whenever I login to Google+ I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Upon entering, Google’s new social space has the feeling of a familiar world but things around me are suddenly different.

I’m intrigued. I’m curious. And frankly, I’m also a little confused. Hrm.

Why am I here? Where should I go next? Who should I take with me? What the heck does it mean to +1 something?

What’s great about Google+ is that it is new and different, yet reminiscent of our general social interactions. What’s challenging about Google+ is that it’s new, different and adds a whole new layer of complication to our online, socially-driven lives.

What we need here is a Google+ Yellow Brick Road! Let’s get skipping friends. (And put the Wizard of Oz allusion to rest).

WHAT IS Google+?

For those of you who have been stuck in Kansas (you thought I was done!) for the past month, Google+ – also known as Google Plus, or G+ – is Google’s largest attempt at a social networking site. It integrates with other social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz and incorporates several new services within the platform including:

  1. +Circles – Enable you to organize contacts into groups for sharing across various Google products and services.
  2. +Hangouts – Used to facilitate group chat (with a maximum of 10 people participating in a single Hangout
  3. +Sparks – Enables users to identify topics they might be interested in sharing with others. “Featured Interests” Sparks are also available, based on topics others globally find interesting.
  4. +Huddles – A group messaging feature available within the Google+ mobile app. Rather than sending text messages to each person in a circle the user sends Huddle messages to the group.

Google+ is also the search engine giant’s attempt to rival Facebook and its 750 million users.

STAT-TASTIC

Here are the big numbers you should know:

Of the 25 million, the U.S. leads in Google+ usage with about 6.44 million unique visitors. 63% of its users are male compared to 37% female. The biggest age group using Google+ is 25-34 with 35%, followed by 18-23 with 23%. The top Google+ markets in the U.S. are Austin, Texas, the Bay Area and Minneapolis-St. Paul. As of August 3, comScore was reporting that the number of users on Google+ had reached 25 million.

WHY SHOULD REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS CARE?

These numbers make Google+ the fastest to reach 25 million users among top social networking sites – a possible indication that this Google product has legs and will soon become part of your online real estate marketing mix … maybe. It truly remains to be seen if and when the greater public (your clients) will latch on, but at the rate its growing and the improvements Google is making, many techies are betting on its success.

PERFECT CIRCLES

Circles is arguably Google+’s greatest strength. They’ve essentially taken a fundamental element of Facebook and for lack of a better word, Plus-ed it! Circles are simply Google’s way of letting you bucket your network into different groups and it’s incredibly simple!

As a real estate agent, you might create buckets for Friends, Family, Co-op Agents, Past Clients, and Buyers and Sellers. When you add someone to the Circle they are notified that they belong to one of your Circles (and conveniently they don’t know which one – Genius!)

Creating smart Circles will allow you to target your messages, photos, updates, videos and favorite articles to specific groups of people.

SEO-CENTRIC

If Circles help you reach the right audience with the right message then the Stream, Sparks and +1 features help people find information that is relevant to them and their search and put their stamp of approval on it.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz lately on whether Google+ will start influencing Page Rank (meaning, if a link shared on G+ is weighted more than others improving your placement in certain search results). If it does, then the SEO benefits become a powerful reason to add Google+ to your social media arsenal.

The bottom line is this: these days, public endorsement and word of mouth are far more effective at generating business than traditional advertising – assuming you make an effort to consistently keep your brand in front of your audience.

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: IS IT WORTH YOUR TIME?

Jay Papasan, Vice President of Publishing at Keller Williams Realty and coauthor of Soci@l, said it well, “Unless your clients happen to be early-adopting, tech-savvy men between the age of 25 and 34, then you might want to wait to go ‘all in’ on Google+. The large majority of your clients may not be there yet. Just keep an eye on it while you invest your time and energy in more proven lead sources.”

At the very least, get on, get started building your profile and creating Circles (more on all of these next week). Then continue to master LinkedIN, Facebook and Twitter as your online lead generators until the masses make it to G+.

Already on Google+ – Come find us: Jay Papasan Laura Price

Not there yet, but want to be? The first 20 people to post this on either Facebook or Twitter (and tell me about it) will get a Google+ invite. Just comment on the blog or send me an email to laura.price1@kw.com to let me know you posted it and claim your entry.

PLUS: Stay tuned next week for 10 tips and tricks to get started on Google+. Bring your ideas to *+* the conversation.

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20 comments on “Should you care about Google+
  1. thetownsleygroup says:

    I’m not sure how much it will help, but I don’t see why it would hurt an agent. If it does get to where it has an affect on page ranking, then it will definitely be worth it.

  2. vchrisner says:

    FB is far more private, which has pros and cons depending on what your goals are with social media. You can not actually block people from seeing your “public” profile or posts. That’s an important note. Having said that, it means I am determining how to use G+ and experimenting with it. So far not enough of my clients/friends/etc are there to make a difference.. but when they are, I will be there waiting for them! :D And as for the requirement to circulate this post – I say HA. I will send anyone an invite if they just email me vchrisner@kw.com. Then you can decide on your own if you want to say I am great. It’s totally up to you. No pressure.

  3. vchrisner says:

    PS – neither of you have a single public post on G+. How do you know if it is a good source of anything or not if you’re not using it? Stats are too new to be meaningful. So, research is not going to help you determine if it is an effective tool. You either jump in and jump on and CREATE the stats or you play catch up later after you’ve read them.

  4. Rebs2Cents says:

    Knowing where to spend time is a great question that I try to answer daily. A few weeks ago when I heard about Google+ I tried to check it out so that “if” it became the next best things since sliced bread, I’d be ready to help the other associates in my office implement it. Sadly, I’m not an early adopter (yet) so I don’t have an “insiders” opinion.

  5. Rebs2Cents says:

    Now that is interesting… I didn’t have Google+ or didn’t think I did but I clicked on the link in the article to show Jay’s profile and it came up, then I found the “follow” option and clicked on it and it seemed to work, so I clicked on the list of followers and found myself on the list, clicked on that and found my own Google+ profile which I can edit now. (note that I was logged in to my gmail account).

    This is a convoluted way of getting in to Google+ without an invite but it seemed to get me there .. hmmm very interesting.

  6. Lynn Pineda says:

    I’ve jumped into Google+ and I believe it is going to be huge! Afterall, Google+ is not just about Google+ as Google is so much more as it’s “the” search engine used by most so anything that it puts out has got to have google juice behind it and I find much better content on Google+ over Facebook. You ought to get it at the beginning, in my opinion. It also allows for a lot more customization, personalization and privacy.

  7. toddmaclay says:

    i am a realtor and a tech geek! i currently use google tools such as google analytics and google webmaster tools. i’ve been pining for a google+ invite – but heard you’re unable to get them – so I hope you can help me! my gmail account is toddmaclay@gmail.com I will follow up with you from there! Thanks for the great article!

  8. lauraprice says:

    @thetownsleygroup – Agreed. I think that if you have the time to get on and set yourself up for success when the masses join, then you are all the better. As Gary Keller says though, the name of the game is lead generation, and lead conversion, so ROI definitely counts.

    @VChrisner – I think you raise so many great points. First off, being on Google+ when your clients decide to make the leap seems to be a great place to start – if it takes off and you are already established, it will only add to your online credibility. As for public posts, I think that we’re all experimenting with the new space right now, and I am merely offering up insight to those who might not have any idea what Google+ is or how to get on. You seem to have a great hold of what’s next, and I would love to talk to you more about it. Feel free to email me directly at laura.price1@kw.com. Also, I agree with you in giving out invites, I think it needs to be completely open to everyone, my strategy here was to invite people into an open dialogue about whether or not they were going to jump on.

    With that said. let the floodgates open – Who wants an invite? Between @VChrisner and me, we have around 300!

  9. mlawler says:

    I have to admit I’m one that doesn’t see how exactly it will impact my business; yet I am more than willing to give it a try. I like the concept of the Circles. I’m not even sure which friends and clients have adopted yet. My email is Maryann@MaryannLawler.com. I’d love an invite. :)

  10. mlangston says:

    I post it to Fcebook and Twitter page . Please send me a invite to Matt Langston@kw.com.
    Thank for the information.

  11. I’ve been looking into Google+ for a while now and it looks very interesting. Anything that helps you promote yourself, business or properties is a big plus to me…especially one that is Google based. Looking forward to an invite…vchrisner I did email you for one. Thanks :)

  12. mikemalina says:

    Google+ was presented at our meeting 2 weeks ago and it was luke warmly taken. Prior to the presentation, I sent an invitation to 10 people. 2 responded via email.

    Appears as if the all the new “stuff” is overwhelming.

    Google + was positioned as a value to a real estate agent through:
    1. Pure target messaging by the value of circles
    2. Increase SEO through content

    Still early for G+ but I am a big fan over FB.

  13. I think social media of any kind will be good for business. The key is to stay active and place social media on your daily “to do list”. Your circles will grow and given enough time, be productive.

  14. Jared says:

    Google+ is definitely geting a lot of attention. I’ve created an account but haven’t done much with it yet. However I do see some great potential. My biggest hangup is that it’s not yet compatible with Google Apps.

  15. realtorted says:

    NO not really, If you are not already a Google Doc’s user and did not have a Google profile prior to G+ being launched you are on the outside looking in.

    Facebook is to social media, what AOL was to consumer email in the early 1990s. My sphere is on Facebook, very few are on G+

  16. Just posted it on my notes on facebook. I’m REALLY interested to see how this all pans out!

  17. cbelan says:

    Genuinely connecting with people through every conceivable medium, and getting information to people. I think Google + is a wonderful opportunity and why not utilize every tool available to grow our databases, and our lives.

  18. craigwalkersyr says:

    I love the idea, love what I’ve been reading about it, but wish google would open it up so all people can see what a thing this is!

  19. I am a google user and it hasn’t been yet rolled out here in Houston. At least that is the message I got! Looking forward to trying it out. Don’t see how it can hurt anyone.

  20. barryslaton says:

    I am just getting started and have not found too many friends/agents on it just yet but I would never bet against Google.

    http://www.400realestate.com

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