What is Google Plus? …And Why Should Law Firm Owners Care or Pay Attention?
In June 2011, Google launched a platform that most people were clueless about and had no idea would eventually impact them or their business. Well, take some notes. The sooner you acknowledge that Google+ has arrived and will forever change the landscape of what is called “social media” the sooner you will find yourself in the winner’s column. Those who have taken notice, might think that Google just launched their version of a Facebook wannabe. Other clever observers might joke: “If you can’t buy ’em — beat ’em at their own game.” Both are wrong. If the web is important to you or your business Google+ is as important as a heart attack.
Interesting Facts about Google+, Google Plus, or GPlus
Google+ which is sometimes spelled out as Google Plus, G+, or GPlus is a multilingual social networking and identity verification service created and operated by Google Inc. Google Plus eclipsed the oft talked-about Twitter in December of 2012 without much fanfare. Google+ is currently the second largest social networking site on planet earth.
We are not looking to overstate the ramifications of Google+ but “Grab your Ankles!”
If you live or die by the web and your rankings (now or hopeful), you’d better get on board with Google+. If you are a business and the web is the only real marketing venue that makes good sense, you’d better pay attention and get your Google+ profile set-up, verified and show a willingness to interact and associate with others. While Mark Zuckerberg might be in the news for the numbers of personal body guards he has tailing him around the planet since taking Facebook public, young Mark won’t be having an impact on your personal or business life: Google+ very likely will. Google+ is a social network overlay of all of Google’s premier products and will one day, we speculate, have a measurable impact on your online search engine ranking and Google’s willingness to offer up your information to people who might want to meet you or do business with you as a “verified” and “trusted” Google search result unless you agree to participate.
co-founder of Wikipedia
Google+ is the Best of Facebook and the Best of Twitter
On its face, Google+ seems to have borrowed some core principles from Facebook and Twitter. Similar to Facebook, Google+ users are able post rich content and publish detailed profiles which, if allowed, can show up in other Google+ user’s news-feeds. Unlike Facebook and more like the Twitter model, Google+ users are able to follow anybody they want to without requiring their target to accept their “friend request” to make that happen.
Google+ Circles is a logical way for Google to Understand, Document and Index People and Entities
—Google wants us to consolidate our Multiple Profiles and get on ONE Platform: Google+
Google+ Circles allows users to create custom ‘circles’ of people (think: Facebook Groups) that they would either like to send postings to, or receive postings from. Facebook and Twitter have been fighting back at this potent functionality by unveiling lists which are somewhat similar, but Google+ Circles are far more potent and customizable in that you are able to have complete control of how your “circles” interact, overlap, or even avoid one another. Google+ is allows you the freedom and —sometimes the ‘anonymity’— you might desire in ONE online profile. Many people currently have multiple email accounts —sometimes even multiple firstname.lastname@example.org email accounts— as well as multiple social identities including multiple Facebook accounts because we lead “different lives” and different lives require different “personas.” For some, it may be that they don’t want one or two people in their lives to be offended by their relationship with a rival or specific individuals better kept “private.” Others simply want to keep work and family clearly compartmentalized.
Why do we set up multiple email accounts & duplicate social profile accounts?
Humans are social creatures and have diverse, and sometimes conflicting interpersonal relationships. Most of us are not purposefully devious or deceptive, but sometimes we need to compartmentalize our private lives from our business lives, and for the more adventurous among us, need to create variations of a social profile where certain “friends” will not intersect with certain other “friends.” Some of us even desire to have completely “secret lives” using variations of our names or completely fictional made-up aliases. Google+ is attempting to convince ALL of us that, no matter the interpersonal complexities of our lives, we can effectively get rid of all our scattered and various online “presences” and lump them all together in ONE manageable profile called Google+. Can they pull this off? It seems as if the account management tools are all there, but the jury is still out. Many tech firms are testing these premises and we will post these findings soon.
Google is encouraging humanity to use one powerful social media profile to manage our complex lives.
No matter the countless and diverse reasons WHY most folks have multiple emails, and multiple profiles, Google knows this is commonplace and is attempting to woo humanity into managing all of our mildly-diverse “personas” (those where we are using our real name and identity) on one highly-configurable social media platform: Google+ . Then we can close down all of those extraneous email and profile accounts we are attempting to manage. This would make it easier for Users and easier for Google to get a clearer view of WHO WE ARE. Implicit in this is that we are being asked to be absolutely vulnerable and have lawyer-client-trust, or pastor-parishioner-faith in Google that they will not accidentally or purposefully cause us grief — for some, potentially life changing grief. Think about the numerous breaches of trust that Facebook unleashed on their billion+ users. Facebook account holders, attempting to keep their personal profiles private, or their “Friends” private were horribly violated. They were notified by news accounts –not Facebook– that their privacy settings were reset carte blanche to “PUBLIC.” Many Facebook users never knew this for weeks or months making for many embarrassing and awkward relationship problems, that for many, changed their lives.
How successful will Google be?
So then, Google is encouraging us to place All our personal and business connections and relationships in one basket. It would save time. It would save Google the task of indexing all the infinite clutter that we have all created on the web having billions of extra accounts. On the other hand, a common English variation of a Chinese proverb, warned: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If Google can earn the world’s trust in keeping people’s data private and secure they may have great success. Should a privacy scandal ever rock Google, their hopes for us to divest ourselves of all our multiple-accounts and web “clutter” may be derailed.
—What should the Managing Partner or Technology Partner of a Law Firm Anticipate and Plan for?
From a business and professional networking point of view, the endless ways you can use Google+ Circles are only limited by your own imagination! Send exclusive updates and professional insights to just your top echelon clients, share Pug pictures with just your family and fellow dog lovers, or send out the occasional BLAST to ALL of your circles AND to their extended circles when the need arises. No matter what — Law Practices owners and partners must set up a Google+ account, post some articles to it on a regular basis and build some legal industry Circles or Google may not treat you as well as you deserve.
How does Google define the Google+ Social Media Platform?
Google has described Google+ as a “social layer that enhances many of its online properties.” Law practices, business people, professionals, and others who have a one or more websites and want their site(s) to be treated well by Google for organic search had better pay attention to that quote. Read between the lines… “enhances many of its online properties:” We believe that if you don’t get on-board with a Google+ account and link it to you, your website, your physical address (Google+ Local), it is very likely that your web competitors who elect to set-up a Google+ account and “work it” to some degree, will bury you in organic search results once Google has decided the time for youthful accountability has come and gone. If you are in business, pull the trigger on your Google+ bar mitzvah and become accountable. From a risk-avoidance point of view, you can exclude mixing in your Friends, Family, and Clients into your Google+ account for now, and instead, focus on a plan of action that will not be disastrous or professionally embarrassing should a system-wide glitch from Google occur where they, like Facebook, might one-day reset your privacy settings or get hacked to where all your supposedly-private data is compromised. You as a lawyer —as a law practice owner— must make a plan action to use Google+ or take the chance that Google Search will not treat you, your profile, and your law firm website well because you blew them off when the writing was on the wall for the tuned-in and perceptive to read.
Define yourself & your business using “Circles” and the powerful privacy tools unique to Google+
Google+ “Circles” enable users to organize people into separate, overlapping, or partially intersecting groups for purposes of sharing across various Google products and services. Although other users may be able to view the existence of a list of people in a user’s collection of Google+ Circles, they cannot view the specific names of those Google+ Circles. The comprehensive privacy settings available to the Google+ account holder enable users to hide individuals, or groups of users in their Google+ Circles as well as who have them in their Google+ Circles. Customization of these privacy settings is done through a user-friendly GUI-based drag-and-drop interface. This potent privacy interface replaces the limited ‘friends list’ function used by Facebook. After adding a user to a Google+ Circle, it isn’t until they are notified and have manually drag-and-dropped the other user to one of their Google+ circles that they are mutually in each other’s Circles.
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