Time to tell the truth. I have been a very loyal LinkedIn user. 10 years, 300 days and counting. Like you, I have spent a considerable amount of time on the platform: building my profile, nurturing my networks, engaging in conversations.
And getting to grips with all the new tools and features that LinkedIn has thrown at me over the last decade.
But being loyal also has its downside. Being loyal has made me complacent, thinking that as online business networks go, LinkedIn is all that matters.
For too long, I have ignored another business platform that ticks all the boxes and delivers excellent results, both in the B2B and B2C space.
I am talking about Google Plus.
Initially regarded as LinkedIn’s ‘poor cousin’ or ‘copycat’, Google Plus has developed its own strong, active and loyal following from companies, recruiters, professionals (job seeking or not).
So I decided to put Google Plus to the test by comparing it step by step with LinkedIn.
Google Plus – what exactly are the plus points? Here are 10 reasons to give Google Plus a try.
1. Sky-rocket your online visibility
I have experimented with postings and comments on Google Plus in order to assess the digital footprint it creates. The visibility and traction of anything I have put on Google Plus has dazzled me. All my entries show up higher than LinkedIn entries in any online searches. In fact, higher than anything I put on any other platform. This should not come as a surprise. After all, Google dominates the search engine world, by itself and as owner of YouTube. Of course it favours material from its own social media channels in its search engine listings.
2. Build engagement easily
Unlike LinkedIn, where you need to ask for a person’s permission to connect, you can engage or link with anyone on Google Plus. Simply add people to your ‘circles’, the communities of interest YOU create for following, learning from and communicating with. Google Plus makes it easy to find information about a person or organisation, including their contact details, and wider social media presence. You can even draw someone’s attention to you if you mention their names in your postings, by inserting a ‘+’ or ‘@’ symbol in front of their names.
3. Find common interests
Unlike LinkedIn, Google Plus uses hashtags. This makes it easy to find information, join conversations and engage with people who share your interests. Just include relevant hashtags in your postings and you gain visibility with specific communities, individuals or ‘publicly’ across the internet.
4. Invest your time but not your money
Google Plus is free, everyone gets to use the same features, and there is no upsell (yet) to access superior functionalities. I understand that LinkedIn has to bring in revenue. I do have a paid account, and as an active user I can justify the expense. Yet what has started to irritate me is that free accounts lack some basic functionality. Even the more competitively priced accounts (like my medium-priced Spotlight account) don’t deliver all you want. Google Plus currently offers a compelling alternative: it’s free – and without distracting advertisements, artificial tiers or perks depending on the size of your wallet.
5. Have real conversations
Many social media experts tell me that Google Plus is like LinkedIn in the early days. They refer to communities (equivalent of LinkedIn groups) that are still the genuine, interactive and supportive places that LinkedIn groups were a few years back. With real conversations, not just people pushing out their blog posts all over the place. Another advantage is that some Google Plus communities are still comparatively small – and less intimidating for anyone who ventures out into the digital world for the first time.
6. Combine Google Plus with other useful Google tools
Google Plus is much more than yet another social media platform. It is an all-encompassing, multi-faceted amalgamation of tools, features and processes that are geared up to making life and work easier. Part of the Google family, Google Plus integrates with many Google features, such as Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps, to name but a few. From a practical point of view, this integration of multiple tools and sites makes online engagement pretty convenient.
7. Enjoy clutter and adfree design and layout
Google Plus has a clean, uncluttered, fresh feel to it. The functionality is comprehensive yet easy to master (well, relatively easy if you are used to online networking). Google Plus also allows its users to build a substantial profile without too many restrictions, for instance for your biography part of the profile. And there are ways to liven up text with design and bold, underlining and italics. This is something I would just love LinkedIn to introduce for all its profile sections, especially the summary …
8. Meet, teach, share and learn via Google hangouts
Google’s free online video conferencing tool is another super feature which I would not want to be without. You can use it as your own private video conferencing tool, or as a webinar platform and learning/teaching tool. You can keep your hangouts private or share it online (and yes, of course, via YouTube).
What better way to get together as professional interest groups? One of my favourite bi-weekly hangouts is the #RECHangout – where recruiters congregate to discuss topics pertinent to the recruitment industry. You can submit questions and engage with key players in the field, all from your office. No travel required.
9. Stand out when you engage with recruiters and organisations
I know that LinkedIn is still the favourite playground for recruiters. Yet LinkedIn is becoming a crowded (maybe even saturated) marketplace to search for talent. And Google Plus is gaining traction. It’s abundant with companies wanting to engage with prospects via their company and career pages, discussion groups and circles. If you’re planning to move jobs, don’t just rely on LinkedIn as a way of becoming visible to hiring managers and recruiters. Cast your net wider. Engage on Google Plus.
10. Add a personal touch
Google Plus lets you share photos, videos, blog posts etc., without losing its professional feel. Altogether, I can give a slightly more well-rounded view of myself, not just as a professional, but also as an individual. LinkedIn gives the option of sharing ‘interests’, but that’s just adding searchable keywords to your profile. Google Plus has gone further, but not far enough for it to become like Facebook or Twitter.
So these are the attractions of Google Plus, from my point of view as a career management coach.
Would I advise you to leave LinkedIn? Absolutely NOT! LinkedIn is a sophisticated career management, networking and job search tool. It’s invaluable. It’s here to stay. But in addition to LinkedIn, I’d say – give Google Plus a go. It offers things that LinkedIn doesn’t offer, or doesn’t do so well anymore.
I believe that Google Plus is a platform that deserves your attention, sooner rather than later (when millions more migrate and it will be harder to stand out). Do you agree?