New Google+ Features for Businesses

Most people use the various social media platforms to keep up with their friends, create and publicize events, catch up on breaking news and post and comment upon the silliest memes on the internet.

But Google+, one of the newest and probably least understood social networking sites, plans to distinguish itself from the others by focusing on the needs of business.

According to an announcement released by Google on Wednesday, Google+ will be integrating deeply with Google Apps, to expand the practical uses of the large but still underused social network. Google Apps brings together calendar, document and spreadsheet services that are all fully controlled and stored online.

In the past, Google has sold this app package for corporate use, though a free version has long been available for general consumers.

The Google Apps integrated with Google+ will bring a huge new set of options to the Google+ user, but probably the most interesting is the feature called Hangouts.

It’s Google’s video chat program, and while it is similar to Skype and other options out there, Hangouts allows for as many as ten people to engage in the video chat at the same time.

In the corporate world that could be hugely important, especially in today’s age of virtual meetings. With all of these features tied together, an office could meet through the video conference, take notes on a Google document, and then set future tasks on a Google Calendar, all in the same place and through the same program.

Google is also making some adjustments to the Google+ platform to make its use more palatable for businesses. In the future, people will be able to restrict their posts to a certain group or organization, and to disseminate news stories in the same way.

It will still be up to the individual to learn the controls and implement them, unless they’re prepared to accidentally share inter-office memos with their full group of friends. But Google isn’t stopping here, and promises further announcements concerning additional services, including mobile capabilities and improved controls for group administrators.

So how is the industry reacting to this corporate announcement?

It’s definitely been a mixed bag. Some people think it’s a ploy to increase visibility for Google+, which has not lived up to Google’s expectations and continues to lag far behind Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest in popularity and usage.

But others think it’s simply a matter of Google addressing a real trend in social networking. More and more businesses are conducting their work in this world, and taking advantage of cloud computing to disseminate corporate information. Google+ becoming more palatable for executives is simply reacting to draw in some more of that market.

Other online services that pair commerce with social networking have also followed the push into the corporate world.

On the messaging and conferencing side, Salesforce and Yammer have pressed new business initiatives. Traditionally consumer-facing services like Evernote, Open Table and Hipmunk have all followed suit.

It shouldn’t be long before businesses can adjust their WordPress slider in some sort of virtual, group setting as well. The bottom line is, with more and more businesses utilizing social networking, every platform can expect to increase in value.

Evan Fischer
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. He enjoys writing about the latest tech news for a variety of companies and discovering new and innovative gadgets.
If you wish to write for techchai, you can get in touch using the write for us form above.

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