January 9, 2012; Source: Business2Community  |  2012 is looking like a great year for the social media platform Google+, which launched back in June and has already accumulated over 60 million users. In December, Google+ usage in the United States surged 55 percent, accumulating 49 million visits in the last month of 2011. Google has also integrated Google+ into the newest Android OS, giving them ample opportunity to grow and gain users through mobile devices.

But what really sets Google+ apart from other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter? Facebook is still significantly dominating the social media world, with about 800 million users worldwide. Although Facebook is enormously popular, many users have voiced their concerns on privacy issues with its new changes, and their lack of trust with sharing their information. NPQ touched upon the possibility of Google+ being the “next big thing” in simplifying social media for its users when they launched brand pages last November. This streamlined design is proving to be more appealing to social entrepreneurs, and by the end of 2012 Google+ could be the preferred social network site for businesses and nonprofits.

Google+’s social media tools seem to directly cater to entrepreneurs, organizations, and businesses. The Young Entrepreneur Council nonprofit organization published a blog piece on the five ways Google+ is beneficial for entrepreneurs:

  1. The ability to segment your audiences;
  2. Share valuable content;
  3. “Hang out” with folks you’d like to meet or already know; 
  4. Use Sparks to find helpful content related to your niche; and
  5. +1 others’ content from across the Web.

Google+ Hangout allows organizations to hold meetings online, provide customer service through video chat, and engage with up to ten Google+ users through video. Hangouts are already becoming huge among businesses, and nonprofits are already incorporating this new tool into grant proposals. Although Google+ was accused of arriving late in the social media game, they may have emerged at just the right time, when Facebook users are frustrated with the overwhelming constant changes and may be looking elsewhere for their social media fix.—Aine Creedon