Google Plus Redesign Includes Smart Updates

google-plus-redesign-includes-smart-updatesA surprise to many, Google Plus very quietly launched a redesign with a brand new layout and a focus on images. They’ve added a whopping 41 new features designed to make G+ operate more intuitively.

What Google Plus seems to be doing is paying more attention to it’s users, feedback and improving upon those features that make it a unique network. Smart. Here is a brief overview on some of the smart updates that Google+ made with this new redesign:

HANGOUTS

The ever popular Google Hangout feature will be enhanced with a mobile app. Hangouts can include text, photos and video and can be stored for you to go back and review later.

STREAM

The Google Plus stream will now have a multi-column which people are already saying looks a lot like Pinterest. I like it because it involves a lot less scrolling :)

EDITING

Each section of the About tab (skills, work, education) has it’s own separate section with it’s own editing feature. This makes it easier for you to edit your profile information, quickly.

REVIEWS

There is now a reviews tab that allows users to add local reviews of movies, restaurants and other businesses.

PHOTOS

Here’s where they really zeroed in on some smart updates. Photos just became even more “awesome” on G+: Auto Backup allows mobile photos to automatically back up so you have the ability to easily share them right onto G+. Auto Awesome is a feature that uses groups of photos in your library to create an animation. Auto Enhance is a feature that automatically uses a filter to do brightness, contrast and other editing enhancements. Auto Highlight is another pretty amazing feature that Google+ describes this way: “Auto Highlight helps you find your favorites faster by de-emphasizing duplicates, blurry images and poor exposures, and focusing instead on pictures with the people you care about, landmarks, and other positive attributes”

Google Plus Features And Overview

google-plus-featuresI love to get questions from my audience. This gives me ideas for content and helps me better serve my online community. Sometimes we assume what our audience wants to know or what they need but that should all be dictated by our audience. This weekend I was the special guest on a conference call where I was asked to talk about Social Media Marketing. I shared with the audience some of the basic definitions and how they applied to this particular industry of the listeners on the call. At the end of the call, they opened the line for questions. One of the questions asked was, What is Google Plus? I was not at all surprised by this question because Google+ has been growing rapidly as of late, so as a result, there is much interest about this networking site.

Google Plus is one of many social network sites just as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are social networking sites. All are unique in their own way and have unique features.

Google+ describes itself as having the ability to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. It’s somewhat similar to Facebook which has a news feed based on status updates and shared content, etc.). But Google Plus is designed to make it easier to share content with specific sets of people called Circles. This is one of the features that I like the most about Google Plus.

Circles make it easy to share specific things with specific people much like you would want to do in real life. Cirlces makes it so that you can share some things with close friends, others with your family, and almost nothing with your boss. When you “circle” people on Google+, it allows you to categorize them, by naming a circle and adding people to those circles. You might have circles for friends, family, business associates, business prospects, industry peers, or by special interests. When you post something that you want to share with only one or more of your circles, you can select that when you are crafting your post.

It also has a feature called Communities. Communities allows you to create a group where you can discuss your interests with people who share those same interests. You can join public communities around shared interests, or create private communities.

Google+ also has a feature called Hangouts. Hangouts are video chat. Hangouts can be done in different ways: 1) chat one on one 2) host a virtual meeting where you can use powerful tools like screen sharing and Google Drive collaboration. 3) you can go live in front of a global audience. 3) Group chat with up to 9 people.

Google Plus also has Pages. These are for businesses and brands. For businesses, Google+ helps you attract new customers and build deepers relationships with your current customers. This is done by making it easier to connect to the billion+ people who are searching on Google every day. Clearly, by this being Google, there will be SEO benefits that are enhanced by Google+ activity. I explain a bit about that on my Social Solutions Collective post about how to grow your online community with Google+.

Are you currently using Google+? What is your experience like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

4 Easy Social SEO Tips

4-easy-social-seo-tipsSocial Media Marketing is all about connecting, engaging, building a community and sharing valuable information. Ultimately, we are trying to get our message across. We want to do that in the most effective way and with such a crowded online business world, we do our best to stand out. We also do our best to be seen. One way we do that is with SEO and Social SEO.

What is Social SEO? Well let’s break it down. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. The idea behind having an SEO strategy is taking steps to helps your website show up in search engine results when searching key words or phrases that are relevant to your content. Social SEO is simply the idea that there is a part social media links play in website search rankings. That means that your social profiles and pages will be key in helping with your SEO efforts.

Although SEO can seem quite complicated, and in some ways it is, there are some things you can do yourself to get on the right track. I am listing 4 ways that you can boost your Social SEO strategy with little effort:

1) OPTIMIZE your Profiles and Pages. In our Business Fuel Group, we share some “mini-training” from time to time on Fridays called “Friday Fuel.” The very first segment we shared when we launched our Facebook group community was about Making Your Social Media Profile ROCK! We were simply offering tips on how to optimize it. In a nutshell, be descriptive and take advantage of every opportunity to plug in those appropriate keywords and phrases in about sections and bios. By all means, DO create a BUSINESS Page on Facebook for example. For one thing, your business must have a page, not a profile based on Facebook’s terms. But also, Pages are indexed by Google, while Profiles are not.

2) Be Shareable. Make sure your content is as easily shareable as possible. Include social share buttons on your blog posts. This counts for your updates and tweets as well. That means you have to share valuable engaging content. So people WILL share it.

3) Post With Purpose. Be sure that when you’re sharing that valuable content, that you are including the keywords you have identified for your business. Be sure to also work in your business name. Share fresh content on Twitter. Always share your blog posts. “Cross-pollinate” your content by including images with your blog posts and pinning those images on Pinterest, for example.

4) Get to know Google+. Google Plus is google’s social site. That alone is a clue. Sharing your blog posts on Google+ is going to help you appear in Google search results better. The +1 feature allows people to recommend your posts and help further your reach and boost your SEO. See my article on Social Solutions Collective about how to grow on Google+ here.

Don’t neglect some very key things about your social presence like consistency, using your business name and customized URLS. Here is the video that my partner Tiffany Lymon and I made for our Business Fuel group that I mentioned above about maximizing your profile:

Google Plus Spring Updates You Might Have Missed

google-plus-spring-updates-you-might-have-missedGoogle+ continues to be a social network that is growing and has many advantages. I like Google+ because I find that I can interact much more with people in my industry and users seem to be very genuinely interested in finding and sharing great content. I have both a profile and business page. While I have more followers on my Profile, my business page by far gets more engagement. I think this speaks to what I just mentioned: interacting with my industry peers and appreciating content. I mainly share my blog posts and blog posts that I find useful and helpful to my target audience.

Although I was not sure how this network would take off, I have come to truly appreciate it. So I have made it a point to keep up with news, tips, changes and updates to the site. One of the most noticeable was the change to the size of the cover photo. HUGE! But, I like it. I’m a fan of cover photos because I love to see how creative people get with them. You can reference this great post from Designer Rob Russo on the Google+ cover photo and it’s branding potential here.

Besides the cover photo, the About tab is redesigned, and a brand-new feature has been added called “Reviews”. This compiles all of your restaurant and point of interest reviews from Google Local.

Here are a few other changes that happened recently that you may or may not have noticed:

1) Users can automatically show their current location to circles or individuals they choose. The option, which will appear on their cover photo, must be enabled from the Google+ profile settings page.
2) The Circles Volume Slider has been replaced by a drop-down menu and moved under the pictures of Circled Plusers.
3) Interestingly, animated GIFs can now be used for profile pictures! What say you? :)
4) If attempting to comment on content shared in a community you have not joined, the pop-up dialogue box will include a link to this community.
5) Mobile device users have the ability to download their pictures directly from their Instant Upload page. I noticed this recently on my iPad Google+ app.

Are you a Google+ user? Do you have a profile AND business page? What are your thoughts on this social network? Tell me if it is or is not working for you and why in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!