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For many years now social networking has been divided into roughly two camps. There are those people who use social networking as a social tool to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Then there are those people who use social media platforms for businesses purposes.

There’s a clear distinction between using social media marketing platforms for personal use and business use, and in previous blog posts I’ve discussed some of the common mistakes people make when confusing the two. Primarily the biggest mistake is when people set up a personal profile when really they should be looking at setting up a business one.

However, it seems that since the release of Google+ there has been a distinct lack of balance between these two camps, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Facebook is making the most of this. When Google+ first launched there was a great deal of excitement and speculation concerning the possibility that Google was taking on Facebook. Whilst pretty much all of Google’s past explorations into social media have failed spectacularly there was a sense that this could very well be something different.

Most notably this was because Google themselves were making it clear that Google+ was a direct reaction to the complaints and problems highlighted by people when using Facebook, from privacy to organisation and from integration to personalisation. But the truth is that those people with an active Facebook profile and who were using this primarily for personal, social reasons had relatively little interest in upping sticks and moving wholesale elsewhere, and relatively little need to divide their social life into two.

The group of people most interested in what Google+ had to offer were actually those people involved in business networking, yet back in July Google made the astonishing announcement that they would prefer businesses to hold off creating Google+ pages until the network was sufficiently ready for them. Facebook leapt onto this announcement and released their ‘Facebook for Business’ how-to guide (https://www.facebook.com/business).

As the months have ticked by many businesses have been anticipating seeing Google announce that the network is fully ready for them, but no such announcement has taken place (apart from the release of brand pages), and it is clear that Google+ lacks many of the benefits which make Facebook a more appealing platform. Businesses aren’t too concerned with some of the problems that people have had with Facebook when using it for personal purposes. Privacy isn’t so much of a worry clearly, and with Google now indexing Facebook comments it seems that Google has shot themselves in the foot as far as offering businesses any real incentive to move to their own platform.

With Google+ you still can’t offer special deals or distribute coupons or vouchers, and there’s no facility to run contests or sweepstakes. There isn’t even any facility for businesses to do one of the most basic things you’d think Google+ would be able to offer them, and that’s to sell anything. With Google Checkout you’d think that this would have been an obvious route to explore, but nothing so far seems to suggest this is even being considered.

So at this stage, with even Google’s own Executive team pretty much leaving their own Google+ pages languishing behind their Facebook pages, I have to ask the question – has Google done it again? Have they managed to create another social media failure? It’s hard to see just what they can offer businesses now compared to Facebook, and as the initial buzz (excuse the pun) has worn off for most people it would seem that Google has missed the opportunity to capture people’s interest and enthusiasm.

What do you think? Have you created a Google+ profile? Do you see any real benefit for your business? What would you like to see Google do in order to capture your enthusiasm for exploring this platform more fully?