Google unveiled some serious changes and a makeover to Google+ at the Google I/O conference yesterday.
The updates include a complete overhaul of the way the website looks. Some new image features, easier to use Hangouts and more of a focus on hashtags.
While the updates and changes will make the site easier to use for users. It will also benefit businesses which have a Google+ Page. Let’s take a look at the major Google+ updates and what they mean for your business.
The most noticeable update is the dashboard overhaul. Which now bears a striking resemblance to Pinterest, which isn’t such a bad thing as it puts the focus on images.
Depending on what device you’re using and your screens orientation you will see one, two or three columns. With images taking up the entire width of the dashboard, like highlighted posts on Facebook.
How does this benefit my business?
Images and videos have been proven to create more engagement than just a text update.
The new layout allows people to scroll through updates easier and since updates are spread across two or three columns, users will see updates they may not have seen as they weren’t willing to scroll that far down.
Perhaps the best feature of the new update is that images will take up the width of the dashboard, meaning they’re big and eye-catching, which will encourage people to engage with them, whether that’s giving it a +1, sharing it, leaving a comment or clicking through to a website.
Even more focus on photos
Google knows that images are important, people love to show their friends and family what they’re up to. As a result Google have rolled out a few image related updates.
Auto Backup means that as soon as you take a photo, it will be automatically uploaded to Google+. This feature can be turned on and off allowing you to control what’s posted to Google and what isn’t.
Auto Highlight is a clever new feature which selects photos which it thinks are the highlights of your albums. It does this by taking out duplicates, blurry or poorly exposed images and including photos which contain your loved ones and landmarks.
Google has also rolled out two image editing features;
- Auto Enhance will, as the name suggestions, automatically enhances your photos. This can be turned off to allow you to select which photos it enhances.
- Auto Awesome; if you upload a series of photos in one go it will create an animated GIF
How does that benefit my business?
As we mentioned above, images create more engagement than text, and Google knows that too. Out of the four new photo features Google have released, Auto Backup and Auto Enhance seem like the most useful for businesses.
Auto Backup could be very useful if you were holding an event and wanted to post your photos online as the event was happening.
Auto Enhance can take care of editing photo’s for you. Which is great if you haven’t got any photo editing software or simply don’t have time for it.
Hangouts are now easier to use
In case you’re a new comer to Google+ or have just never used the feature. Google has a video chat feature called ‘Hangouts’, which will now be available as a stand-alone app for iOS, Android and for your computer.
Google say that creating a stand-alone Hangouts app which is available across multiple platforms means people can forget about technology. And focus on talking to their friends and family.
How does this benefit businesses?
This feature can be really useful for businesses and can be used to help build relationships with your existing or potential customers. You might choose to hold a Hangout to;
- Do a product demonstrations
- Hold a question and answer sessions
- Customer support
- To launch a new product or announce a sale.
Now Hangouts are available on multiple devices, it will be easier for more businesses to hold Hangouts and equally, easier for their customers to take part.
Using the Hangouts feature well could really help a business to build a relationship with their customers, especially if it was used for customer support where sometimes you just need to see how something is done rather than listening to someone tell you how to do it.
A video call will also make it more personal as people can see who they’re talking to.
If you post an update and using a hashtag, the hashtag appears in the top right hand corner. Clicking on that will show you a few other statuses which have used that same hashtag.
It will also show you related hashtags and allow you to browse updates using those hashtags, allowing users to discover more.
How does this benefit businesses?
Hashtags allow your posts to be found easier and the new related hashtags means your posts may reach more people under ‘related hashtags’.
For example, if your business sells garden furniture and you’re encouraging people to get out into their garden now the weather is improving you may use #summer in your update.
If a user saw #summer on one of their friends updates they may click on it and see your post under related hashtags. If your post interests them they may visit your website, which may lead to a sale.
The two key benefits for businesses are the focus on hashtags which allow businesses to increase their reach and the focus on photos which will encourage more users to engage with them.
What do you think of the new Google+ update?
If you’re a small business based in Cannock, Burntwood, Lichfield or Staffordshire and need help setting up or managing your businesses social media, get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. You can call us on 01543 495 752 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.