image-of-google-plus-iconWhen Google introduced its new social network, Google Plus, a few months ago, many of us blanched at the news. The idea of learning the ins and outs of one more social network seemed impossible–at first. Initially populated by technology and social media early adopters, the user base has quickly grown to more than 30 million and now includes users from a wide range of professions. Yet many marketing and public relations professionals are still taking a “wait and see” attitude about joining; citing time constraints, doubt about the site’s future and its current “no-brands-yet” policy.

These are valid concerns. Certainly none of us is looking for more things to add to our crowded “To Do” lists. On the other hand, in today’s global marketplace, with its growing reliance on the social web, understanding how to use new social media is imperative. As Adam Singer, of The Future Buzz, states ”…a vital part of being a modern public relations professional includes testing, tinkering and experimenting with new communications technologies. Google+ is no different, and web savvy communicators should try to be among the first to dive in and get familiar with all the features when released.” And what better way to understand than to jump in and learn by doing?

Here are five reasons it makes sense to sit down, create your Google Plus profile and learn how to use it. Today.

Credibility: today’s marketing and public relations professionals are expected to know how to use the major social networks so that we are able to develop and implement effective online strategies for clients and employers.
Experience: your firsthand exploration will help you understand how (or whether) this network will benefit your clients or employer.
Relationships: the business of marketing and public relations is based on building and maintaining strong positive relationships. Google Plus makes it easy to meet and develop relationships with industry leaders from all over the world.
Traffic and Search Engine Rankings: Google Plus is already driving quality traffic to websites and helping to improve search engine rankings.
Ubiquity: the Google Plus of today is a project still in beta form. But tomorrow? While time will tell, it is most likely that Google Plus will be everywhere and inescapable, as Mike Elgan, of The CMO states. Content will be easily marked public and immediately converted into searchable, indexed webpages.

So how do you start? For the moment, Google Plus is still an invitation only social network and you must have a gmail address. Invitations can be found all over the web right now or you can email info at allenmireles dot com and we will send you one.

Interested in learning more? Join us for PRSA’s monthly meeting this Friday. We will be covering the nuts and bolts of using Google Plus and will provide invitations so attendees can jump in and get started right after the meeting.

The September 16 meeting will be held at the Toledo Club, located at 14th and Madison streets in downtown Toledo. Networking begins at 11:30 a.m., with lunch at noon, and the meeting immediately following lunch. Cost is $15 for members, $25 for guests and $10 for students. Reservations are due by noon on Wednesday, Sept. 14.  Please RSVP to Kari Bucher at 419-867-8792 or klbmomof4 at sbcglobal dot net to reserve your seat.

So is it worth your time? Yes. While it’s too soon to tell where Google Plus is heading, especially in its application for business communications, the signs point to the emergence of a vibrant and strong new social network. Remember that the Google Plus of tomorrow will very likely be very different and very much more powerful than the Google Plus we see today.