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Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 2.56.32 PMAs an early adopter and enthusiastic proponent of GooglePlus, I continue to be surprised at the great resistance by brands and agencies to using this feature-rich new platform. Often, it is compared to Facebook, as in the recent post by HootSuite.

As I help agencies and brands develop GooglePlus strategies, teach them how to use its many features, and answer questions in GooglePlus Helpouts, I gain greater appreciation for G+ every day. While Facebook is predominantly a place to follow friends and post photos of cats, GooglePlus has more serious business capabilities.

Here are three reasons why GooglePlus is different from and should not be compared to Facebook:

1. The misunderstanding of Google Plus by so many people comes from thinking of it as a social network. It is, in fact, a new platform that is creating the biggest change in online communication since interactive websites.

There is indeed a learning curve with GooglePlus, but it will be worth the time you take to learn because of the richness of the features it provides.

2. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are stand-alone platforms, GooglePlus is integrated into every Google service, including gMail, YouTube, Google Drive, AdWords, Blogger, and, perhaps most importantly, Google Search.

3. GooglePlus provides unique tools not found on Facebook or any other social platform. These include:

  • Hangouts on Air – video conferencing – a remarkable – no cost – video events that an unlimited number of people can join. The feature is unique to GooglePlus and it quite simply antiquates platforms like GoToMeeting.

G+ Hangouts on AirYou can start a Hangout from your gMail account or your GooglePlus page. You can broadcast your Hangout in real time and save it to your YouTube channel. All free.

My colleagues, Albert Maruggi and Dave Erickson, do a half-hour weekly Hangout on Air for our Beyond Social Media Show. We broadcast live from our respective home offices in three different cities and our videos are automatically added to our YouTube Channel, where we can edit, search optimize and brand them.

Hangouts on Air place an amazing array of tools at your fingertips. With the click of a mouse, you can hold a chat with 10,000 of your closest friends (just like President Obama or NASA), share slides and collaborate on documents with colleagues and clients, broadcast a performance or a concert, conduct on the street interviews, or set up a weekly talk show that you broadcast globally from your living room.

  • Circles – Google+ circles make sharing content fast, easy and precise. According to Searchmetrics sharing on Google+ is poised to surpass sharing on Facebook by 2016.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 3.33.05 PMWhen you add contacts to circles, you can assign them to a particular group such as family, co-workers, friends, etc. Then you can easily select which of your followers will see your Google+ updates. If you want to share something with your bridge club, you choose that circle and only those contacts see the post.

When you make updates “Public”, by not choosing to share them with a particular circle, all of your followers can see them.

Google+ users also can share circles with each other, and you can choose to follow circles that other Plusers have created. This is a great way to tap into a circle of experts and join the conversation.

And, when a Google+ user “Circles” (follows) you, they are also giving you permission to send them email, making the platform an even more valuable marketing tool.

Plus, as HootSuite pointed out, as you can with Tweets and Facebook posts, you can embed your GooglePlus posts in blogs and other platforms to expand their reach. Here’s a post I wrote this afternoon: