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Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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10 Best Business Tools In Google+

Consider these great ways for businesses to get started with Google's social network.
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Your business probably has a Facebook presence, and there's a good chance you're active on Twitter, as well. But what about Google+? You might be suffering from social media exhaustion, but keep in mind that a comprehensive social strategy embraces all platforms, and Google+ is a vibrant, active online community. In short, it's one platform you shouldn't ignore.

OK, reality check. We're not going to pretend that Google+ is running neck to neck with Facebook, nor that it will anytime soon.

Google announced in July that its year-old social network had 250 million users, which certainly looks impressive on paper. More than a few analysts, however, have questioned Google's rosy growth numbers. In May, for instance, RJMetricspulled publicly available data for a random selection of 40,000 Google+ users, and found that engagement was pretty tepid. For instance, 30% of users who made a public post never made a second one. And the average post had fewer than one +1 (similar to a Facebook "Like"), fewer than one reply, and fewer than one re-share.

Engagement might have improved since them, but it's clear that Google+ is no Facebook. McDonald's Facebook page, for instance, has 22 million "likes." Its Google+ page? Just under 16,300 +1's. It's obvious who's lovin' it more.

Then again, Google+ is a platform with a lot of business marketing and cost-savings potential. Google continues to enhance the social service's business features, including video conferencing and collaborative work tools that are particularly useful to enterprises that run Google Apps.

How can followers and fans on social sites help your bottom line? Well, they're much more like to buy your products or services. Consumer electronics chain Best Buy, for instance, benefits enormously from its Facebook presence, according to Forrester research.

"Being a Facebook fan of Best Buy increases the odds that a customer will purchase by 5.3 times; the next closest influence factor is having researched consumer electronics, which only increases the odds of purchase by 1.4 times," analyst Josh Bernoff writes in an April 2012 blog post.

Interestingly, this pattern is the same for every behavior and brand. "For example, having a Walmart nearby doubles the odds that you'll consider buying there, but being a Facebook fan of Walmart increases those odds by more than a factor of four," Bernoff writes.

The same sort of dynamics, combined with the power of Google search, should pay off for organizations that establish a presence on Google+ and grow with it. Has your business set up shop on Google+? Click through the slideshow below to see the 10 best business tools for Google's social platform.

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