By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | February 17, 2014
Google Plus, the social networking and identity service operated by Google Inc, pales in significance compared to Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter but there’s more to it than meets the eye – all in favor of Google. Through Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus /ˈɡuːɡəl plʌs/) which has approximately 540 million monthly active users, Google harvests critical information about users’ online behavior.
According to the New York Times, though Google+, which has 29 million unique monthly users on its website and 41 million on smartphones, is not much of a competitor to Facebook, the platform is central to Google’s future because it provides a way to understand users’ digital lives. It’s a collection basket of user data, so to speak.
“The reason is that once you sign up for Plus, it becomes your account for all Google products, from Gmail to YouTube to maps, so Google sees who you are and what you do across its services, even if you never once return to the social network itself,” reported The Times.
When you use Google+, Google is able to track your digital footprint related to the use of its products such as Google Maps, Gmail, You Tube, Images, Offers, Books, and more. This trove of user information is critical to advertisers.
While some analysts regard Google+ as a colossal flop, the fact that it allows Google to see what users are doing raises its stock and makes it alluring to brand advertisers.
“The database of affinity could the holy grail for more effective brand advertising,” The Times quoted Nate Elliot, an analyst at Forester studying social media and marketing.
Google+ is highly integrate with the company’s other products providing insight into friendship links, digital tracking and more critical – how users spent time on more than two million websites on Google’s ad network.
While comparisons have been made between Google+ and Facebook in favor of the latter, Google+ is increasingly growing to become the backbone of Google Inc, seamlessly integrated into its seemingly unbeatable search capabilities. With more knowledge about users, Google will be positioned to deliver better search results, entrenching its position as a search behemoth.
According to a report in FastCompany.com, “Google+’s user acquisition strategy is to methodically absorb certain verticals using the carrot instead of the stick.” Take, for example, if you are a blogger, if you use Google+, search results will show your headshot next to your content. And that’s pretty attractive. For anyone who want prominent display in search results, including small business, using Google+ will increasingly be a must, and that means more dollar bills for Google Inc.