I’m very excited about what Google+ can offer freelancing pros in terms of building and engaging with networks of people, winning clients and organising things.
So much so, that I’ve compiled this handy little list, not intended to scare, just to get people thinking about what they might be missing out on by not throwing themselves into the Google+ social theatre. That includes you.
Here is that list:
1. Losing out on much better control
Google+ is just miles ahead when it comes to functionality. Every feature such as sharing posts, editing photos, and following feeds has a built in control that is very powerful, and puts you the user in control at every point during your Google+ experience.
Things like being able to share to certain circles, lock posts for re-sharing, view posts from particular geographic areas, dragging and dropping media into posts from elsewhere and more, allow you to really be on top of everything when it comes to managing how you engage with others, as well as your own content and data. This is important when it comes to using this for professional purposes and coming across as such.
One in depth example of the control you have with Google+ is through its picture tagging function. While Facebook doesn’t warn its users whenever a photo of one user is tagged in an album, Google+ deals with this by giving users the ability to choose which users that can tag you.
2. Not being part of a professional social environment
What is very evident from using Google+, is the sense of professionalism that the site creates in the way that its features and interface are designed, as well as in the attention to making things secure and private.
Google has made it easy to reduce clutter and noise on the platform through allowing users to restrict the content they see and take out elements within profiles themselves. This combined with the fact that the interface and overall design is cleaner and better designed, adds to the professionalism of it.
Google has been strict about security in order to reduce spammers and other unwanted characters that have a negative effect on the experience of its users. Facebook and Twitter have trouble with fake accounts and spamming, not to mention being overly busy (think endless farmville invites on Facebook) and this is something that Google is seeking to avoid.
Google is also proving to manage data much more effectively and has shown to in the past. Having also learnt from Facebook’s mistakes, Google+’s offering has shown itself to be very secure.
With the ‘Data Liberation’ tool, you can be very explicit about what gets shared, and where, as well as what doesn’t. There is total control for all your work, and all your information on Google+.
All of this combines to create an environment that is very preferential to professionals, including freelancers looking to engage with and build networks of great people.
3. Not targeting what you share to the right people
The ‘Circles’ function in Google+ is an excellent way of allowing you to share certain things with certain people that you have organised into specific labelled groups.
If you have had trouble with promoting your work on other social networks and elsewhere, much of it will be to do with the fact that you are sending out content to anyone and everyone without thinking about how something can be targeted. This is absolutely essential to promotion these days, and Google+ has cracked it in finding a way for you to do this.
Circles allows you to share work with people you want feedback from, for example, without concerning anyone else.
You might want to build up a circle of art director contacts, for example, and regularly show them updates of the work you have been creating, and engaging with only those people strategically.
4. Not taking advantage of better contact-building capabilities
Interacting with people is a crucial part of gathering support, fans, connections, exposure and ultimately paid work for freelancers. Doing so online to complement your engagement in the ‘real world’ can be very powerful if done correctly.
Google+ allows users to reach out to potential clients, key influencers and others who support your freelancing business in better and more effective ways.
Firstly, because the system allows you to follow the updates of people without them needing to accept a friend request, you are in a better position to attract connections by engaging with their content and mentioning their name appropriately through ‘+ tagging’, in a similar way to Twitter, so that you get on someone’s radar.
This means that people are more likely to begin to see your own value and add you to their circles. The open (yet secure) system also allows your updates to filter through the Google+ network (depending on who you want to share with) so that you pick up more fans and prospects as well.
Secondly, the circles tool allows you to share the right information with the relevant people, which allows for the sharing of content in a much more targeted way.
This is very powerful when we are talking about relationship- building. Thirdly, the highly superior search function inside Google+ makes searching for people, as well as content to share and engage with much easier.
This is not to mention the fact that profiles and brand pages, including yours will favourably appear in Google’s search engine results too. Fourthly, circles enables you to group your contacts easily and visibly, so that you can group people that need to be contacted, for example, or simply use circles to store contacts, like an address book.
The extended circles element will even allow you to share your updates with people you follow who haven’t followed you back yet.
5. Wasting valuable time by not using Google+ as your professional ‘social hub’
Google+ allows you to focus pretty much all of your professional promotion and engagement activity in one place.
For example, you can send updates that you post on Google+ automatically to Twitter and Facebook, so you never have to leave Google. Creative freelancers can use Google+ as their first port of call for showing prospects their secondary portfolio, as well as bio, collaborate through hangouts and grouped circles, and gain critical feedback on work, for example, all through the tools on Google+.
Being tied in to other Google products and services like documents and Gmail, means you can get a lot done from one place via the Google bar that shows up at the top of the screen.
What this all means is that you will be in a position to streamline your self promotion and engagement activities and bring a lot of your focus, including actually getting work done, into one place.
Many more features, including streamlining your network outside of Google+, will be revealed in our course on Google+ tailored especially for freelancing professionals.
6. Being forgotten by Google’s powerful search engine
Being associated with Google+ means that everything that originates from you, including your profile, and brand page, will attract preference from Google’s powerful, and well known, search engine, so that you, your brand and your shared content will be found more easily.
The value this presents for self-promotion is very evident.
Google is taking a very strong interest in material that is being shared socially, i.e. on Google+, and will make sure that socially-shared material gains priority through their engine.
Google’s recent introduction of the +1 button means that anything that receives a +1 (similar to Facebook’s ‘like’) will gain even more preference through Google search.
As everything shared in Google+, including images now, has a +1 button linked to it, there is a lot of scope for gaining huge exposure through this.
7. Failing to be part of Google+’s growth and integration
With 40 million users joining Google+ in its first four months of existence, there clearly will be no shortage of users that will serve to further drive and support it.
What you needn’t worry about is if Google+ failed to get anywhere close to Facebook numbers of users. It’s the quality of users it attracts that is important for freelancers, and with fewer users, the more you stand out as a professional in any case. Google+ has the benefit of being part of the Google family, and this means being able to integrate them into the system.
A lot is yet to come, but things like Google’s search engine, Gmail, Picasa for pictures, YouTube and Documents will bring big benefits to a presence on Google+.
As well as having an excellent mobile version of Google+, Google’s Android operating system is getting a lot of people very excited about the integration of app design within the Google+ system, so there’s plenty of opportunity there.
8. Missing out on Google+’s excellent collaboration tools
Collaboration, sharing and discussion is obviously a key requirement of a freelancing professional or independent worker.
Google+ provides a host of tools that allow this to be done smoothly and effectively. Adding people you want to collaborate with to a specific circle, if they do the same, allows you to send through updates that can be shared with the ‘team’ you are collaborating with.
Apart from chat, Google+ ‘Hangouts’ is another method for collaboration, which allows groups to discuss projects via a simple video feed. Many are saying that Google circles is just as effective a tool as Basecamp, a highly sophisticated project management and collaboration tool.
As Google+ is free, the benefits of this alone are clear.
Perhaps this little list has built up something of an appetite for wanting to try out Google+ for professional and fun reasons.
We’re about to launch a step-by-step course especially for freelancers on exactly how to use Google+ for winning clients and more. If you’d like more information on the course and to keep up with the launch, have a look here.
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