Google plus is a social networking and identity service owned and operated by Google Inc. It is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web content directly with its owner or author. It is the second largest social networking website after Face book. There are about 300 million active monthly users for this website.
Creation: Google launched Google+ on June 28, 2011. It had to soon suspend early invites because of a huge demand for new accounts. Later, in September 2011 Google+ opened itself for everyone of the age 18 and above. It is available as a website and on mobile devices. Google referred to Google + as Google Circles before the launch. The predecessors are Google Buzz, Google Friend Connect and Orkut. This fourth attempt of Google at developing a top social networking site is getting a largely favorable response from critics and consumers alike.
Possibilities with Google + for education: Google+ holds a lot of promises for educators. Circle has better control over sharing information. Sparks sorts interesting stories and articles by specific topics. There is a possibility for an in-depth discussion with a new way for video conferencing through Hangout feature. Let us look at the four features which are useful for education:
1. Circle: There is information about inappropriate online sharing. Virginia and Rhode Island banned student-teacher interaction via social media. Most teachers are generally reluctant to friend students on social networking sites for many reasons. Circle feature in Google+ may safeguard the security of the students. Students can be grouped into particular circles and a teacher can limit the amount of information that is shared with a particular set of circles.
“Circle” of Google+ is a major feature which helps people immensely in widening their social circles and also for developing their business. The advantages of using circles are given below:
- One can create circles for one’s employees and can alert them of new social promotions. This method is useful for communicating with remote employees, contractors and freelancers.
- One can create circles for one’s partners to make them aware of the special products and sales.
- One can create circles for one’s top customers to share special discounts and coupon codes.
- One can create circles for customers in specific regions and send them location-based messages dependent on their location.
One can always send public updates which will be seen by anyone. But with circles the messages of updates become more focused, targeted and relevant to a particular section of the audience.
2. Hangout: One can quickly initiate a video conference with other users by creating a hangout. These hangouts are very much user-friendly. This will be particularly useful for those officers who remotely try to manage office hours. Teachers and students can also interact through hangouts. It is a good method to get instant feedback and to maintain social relationships.
3. Sparks: Sparks automatically loads information such as videos and articles found on the internet to users’ profile. It helps instructors and students to be updated with research and current events. Teachers can suggest important study materials to students through this platform. References and resources can also be suggested in Sparks.
4. Huddles: Huddles is a feature similar to group texting function which allows sending a text message to particular groups. This is available only after downloading Google+ Android app on an Android phone. Additional services can be plugged in later to make Google+ a more powerful platform for education.
The new kid on the block, Google+, influences the way how Google sends traffic from their search engine. Let us look at the five benefits Google+ has on business:
1. Improves results of a website in Google search: Google+ has a lot of in-built features and elements that will allow Google to have better information to collect about a particular website from the social circles of the concerned website. Your social circles can see what you share, who likes it, what is most important to you, what is important to your company, and whether your company will be able to satisfy the needs of your followers. Google directs your friends and friends’ friends to your website. It can promote according to your relationships and use ads to your network. Google+ makes it possible for Google to get an idea of how individuals share and discuss things.
2. Improved quality in search results: With Google+ one cannot have false results due to artificial linking. Google is able to distinguish between a real profile and a spam one. One needs to work hard to get quality contents and to get quality relationships.
3. Changes the way of getting traffic: Google’s share button +1 which appears in the search results can be embedded on your website. A particular user’s +1 votes will be tallied separately for each of his pages. This will affect the quality score of each page and will help with the user’s Google Ad Sense Budget. By moving pages or changing their links +1 count for that page will also be reset.
4. Improves a site’s click-through rates: This helps people to click on a page in Google search results. One can actually see in Google which website is more popular and which resource is helpful for people. Those websites with the most +1 s will be preferred to the other websites. It is advisable to use Google+ to its maximum potential.
5. Direct Connect+: There is a new feature in Google where one can add a + before one’s company name which will bring up the company’s profile bypassing the search results. For example, you can add a Google Connect button to your website. Google uses an algorithm to decide which websites are to be included and which are not to be included.
Google+ , unlike other social networking sites, affects our search habits and Google uses Google+ to dominate the social media space. Google+ pages have several advantages over Face book pages. It is possible to connect a particular website to Google+ page through a small piece of coding or badge on the concerned website. Searchers will be able to follow business of those websites which are directly connected to Google+. Google+ offers interaction with your followers beyond the activity on the page. These are some of the added advantages Google+ has and which are not possible with Face book. Suppose when someone adds your page to his circles and follows you, you can interact directly with his profile updates by commenting on and liking his updates. Notifications will be sent to them regarding the interaction of your page with them. This way one can connect with one’s followers and make some progress in business too.
The users of Google+ can segment and control their personal and professional, and colleague, client and customer etc. The impressive features of Google+ open up a number of attractive opportunities for businesses. The integration of Google+ with the existing products of Google like Gmail, Google calendar and Google Docs is inevitable. Additional features in development, voice conferencing and whiteboard feature to document and screen sharing are the added attractions in Google+. It is a top social networking site of Google and so far so good.
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