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Google+ - The Next Big Thing For Freelancers And Contractors!
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Take a deep breath as Google moves one step closer to world domination. Don’t stand back and watch the next big thing become the next big thing – get involved with Google+. Google has created a fresh and currently under populated social media tool, combining a set of social networking elements which can help contractors and freelancers market their products and services to the masses. Contract Jobs advises freelancers and contractors to seize the opportunity and make the most of Google+ and Circles, Sparks, +1 and Hangouts - get in early!

The press release announcing the launch of Google+ described online networking as “awkward”, even “broken”, and outlined Google’s plan to reshape the social media world, bringing “the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software”. It’s still early days for Google+ but there is no doubt amongst those in the know that it’ll take off.

After the failures of Wave and Buzz, Google has committed itself to making Google+ the most promising social product to date. Circles plays up the idea that the information you share is not suitable for everyone, and offers you the opportunity to share different things with different people. Place your friends in one circle, your parents in another and bosses and clients in another – create online circles to mirror your real life social groups, no matter how niche. Google+ offers selective sharing, making social networking a little more intimate. But what does this mean for freelancers and contractors? Circles have huge potential for contractors in all sectors – make the most of the opportunity for relationship building and targeted sales.

A circle allows you to market to targeted groups of people and interact with contacts that will appreciate your work and take notice. Freelance journalists can set up circles to surround a specific story so information can be shared with those at the heart of the issue. Google+ has the potential to play a major part of in the future of news discovery. Sparks lets you designate interest in the stories that matter most – match the content of your news feed to your interests and share that which you think will strike a chord with your circles. What’s more is the+1 button, Google’s equivalent to the ‘like’ button on Facebook. +1 is a way of expressing approval, offering users the opportunity to vote on the value of content and as such, we may see social strategy and SEO blend into something new as sparks and +1 begin to bear an impact upon Google search rankings.

When searching for appropriate content, sparks clocks up previous sharing activity, +1s and search algorithms, whilst checking items for freshness, the visual component (videos will rank highly) and its current viral spread. It will be of benefit for news organizations to pay attention to these new media strategies and adapt accordingly – good news for freelancers and contractors with a Google+ presence. Google+ is all about sharing what matters, with the people who matter most. Hangouts is a meeting place for you and your friends, your colleagues and your clients with the option for multiway video chat with up to ten people at a time.

It has already received great reviews from professionals for whom communication via video chat is common place. Telecommunication is a popular way of interacting with clients and for the majority of freelancers, contractors and small businesses, video conferencing is an indispensible tool. For one thing, Hangouts is free to use! Skype users currently have to pay a minimum subscription fee of �4.99 a month for the privilege of video conferencing – Hangouts provides a premium service at no cost! So once Google+ is properly up and running and people have started to build up their social graphs, we could see Skype users turning to Hangouts as a cost effective way of communicating with clients.

Anyone taking part in a Google+ Hangout session is free to invite people from their circles to chat, a great networking tool for contractors and freelance professionals. People who are aren’t currently acquainted have the opportunity to meet and chat over past and future projects – Google+ Hangouts is a great way to meet new clients and chat with other professionals – you never know, Hangouts may get you your next contract position! Google+ is currently working on an invite only basis whilst the guys at Google work out any technical glitches: the business side of Google+ is still under development with a view to go live later this year, but businesses can sign up now in anticipation. When it’s up and running, it will provide rich analytics and can be fully integrated with other Google products, such as Ad words, Gmail and AdSense. Spot the potential for an all in one business tool as you combine social networking with other Google products, which all in all attract 1 billion unique visitors a month.

The majority of managers and entrepreneurs no longer view social networking sites as a distraction in the workplace – but the seed of interference is still sown. As such, it is not uncommon for Facebook and Twitter to be banned in the workplace and the success of Google+ over other social networking sites lies in the reputation of Google, the biggest search engine in the world. Employers looking for contractors may not be able to access Facebook, limiting their search – when someone searches for your product or service on Google, they will come across your website indexed by Google and your Google business page, found via a search that recognizes keywords and terms that aren’t related to your company name. In this sense then, Google+ may well become the forerunner in the B2C side of things!

Our advice to you is to spot an opportunity: in the past, freelancers and contractors looking to market themselves have made the most of the brief period before a social network has been fully developed. Savvy freelancers and contractors should utilize these periods to create business for themselves in new and creative ways. Carve out a niche before competition gets on board and look for avenues of opportunity to move in with your sales pitch. A word of advice to freelancers and contractors - even if you’re not on board yet, keep an eye on Google+.

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