Google Plus (or Google+) is used primarily by business-to-business and technology-focused businesses. It didn't launch until June 2011, by which time LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter had established themselves and were generating business results.
As a result, it had a somewhat hesitant start, with many accounts being created by default (when setting up a Google account for other services such as Gmail). However, the SEO and web traffic benefits of Google Plus have allowed it to survive, in somewhat different formats.
Google Plus differs from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in that it's more focused on bringing people together within the context of many Google services. It's often called a "social layer", rather than a social media platform.
Google Plus has communities, or groups, that are created around specific interests. They can be private or public, and can be a great place to have conversations.
Google Plus collections are similar, in that they are built around shared interests, but the content sharing is slightly different. You can post content as a "collection" and your followers can choose the type of posts they want to see from you (rather than everything you might post).
Why use Google Plus?
Google Plus is invaluable for local search. Google Plus Pages for businesses are now managed through Google My Business, a platform that makes it easy for customers to find and connect with your company. Google My Business uses Search, Maps, and Google Plus to make your business more visible in local search results.
Unlike other platforms, Google Plus also has content distribution features - you can organise and segment your connections and share content only with specific audiences. Communities also make it easy to connect with people who are interested in the same things you are.
Finally, as a news resource, the content on Google Plus is highly organised. Collections allow you to follow and share around specific topics, so it's easy to see updates on the things you're most interested in.
Written by independent marketing practitioner Luan Wise.