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Entrepreneurs Panel

Brian Hay
Jennie Johnson
Julie Meyer
Steve Purdham
Debbie Pierce
Tony Caldeira
Laura Tenison
Jeremy Roberts
Charlie Mullins
Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock
Michael Oliver

Plus points

Whether you like it or not social media is here to stay, and it’s increasingly important in business as companies are successfully using it to communicate and build relationships with their customers, create inbound marketing, improve search engine rankings, elicit customer feedback, and deliver customer service, news channels and more.

The Google+ project is a new social networking service designed to make sharing online more like sharing in real life. The most popular profile on Google+? None other than Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

There’s a lot of talk about Google+. Is it all hype? Will it send Facebook the same way as My Space? With 687 million users registered on Facebook, and the number of new users naturally slowing, the introduction of Google+ is designed to pose a significant threat.

Is this why there are claims Facebook have just blocked the Facebook Friend Exporter, a Google Chrome extension developed by Mohamed Mansour, that lets you export the list and contact details of your Facebook friends for use in other services?

And how will Google+ benefit business?

It’s currently in its Beta phase and some privileged invitees are testing it out.

Very easy to use, simple navigation with nice stream lined profile pages, immediately the site feels clutter free. Straight away I liked the ability to email someone on their profile page and that I can follow them on Twitter.

Google now have us thinking about forming circles, “plus”ing, tagging and Hanging Out.

For businesses I see the circles are a huge plus (excuse the pun). To be able to drag and drop people into quickly into circles you’ve created beats all that time wasting on Facebook. Google+ makes segmenting your contacts a breeze.

Google+ makes it effortless to talk directly to a particular circle you’ve created, meaning contacts only receive posts relevant to them, and Google+ is just as efficient and streamlined on Android. Apple has yet to approve the app for use on its iPhone and iPad. With a history of blocking Google Apps will this affect how it competes against Facebook?

Another frustration cured by Google+ is the ability to add people, no approvals required. Engaging with people is a lot easier, relationships will happen faster because of it, making it easier to do business.

Hangouts, meaning video chat, are getting rave reviews and hot on their heels Facebook has teamed up with Skype to offer its video chat option. But will they have Google Translate to facilitate multi languages? Google+ Hangout gives the user the ability to instantly communicate in another language

So what about Business pages? Google has acknowledged that it is on its way to rolling out +pages for businesses.

Google’s head of commerce, Jeff Huber, has indicated that at some point in the near future Google+ will include the option for business profile pages. He said, “I can’t announce a launch date yet, but we want them to be great and we’re coding as fast as we can.”

For now having a Business profile is advised against, yet many businesses already do and I think businesses will continue to adopt pages, hopefully spurring Google+ into action sooner.

At face value it seems that Google+ is a winner, but before you rush to join you might want to stop and think. How much does your business rely on Google? With all the services that Google offers (let’s not forget it owns YouTube) is jumping into bed with Google+ adding another reliance of your business on this giant?

Remember, Google can close down your account anytime it likes, as can the other sites, including Facebook. So whatever you do in your business, make sure that you protect your database, don’t over expose your business to one tool, and ensure that if it’s taken away overnight your business doesn’t go with it.

Gerald Ratner – entrepreneur, author, public speaker

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