By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
As of the first week of August, Google+ reached 25 million "unique visitors" (not users), according to this report.
According to all reports, Google+ is the fastest-growing social network in history. While it is still in beta testing, I think it is important to understand how Google+ plays into lawyer and law firm marketing and public relations right now.
The problem is that this juror is still out.
Personally, I am a very early adopter of most online platforms. In fact, I have to be in order to do my job well and provide clients with the best possible strategic counsel. So, while I do have a Google+ profile, about I am using it very sparingly and spending more time "listening" to the conversations. In fact, one of the hottest topics on Google+ in the United States seems to be Google+. Go figure.
At this stage, I do think it is important for attorneys to stake claim to their names in Google+. This same statement holds true for Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo, Martindale, Facebook, FourSquare and many of the other social media tools. As for law firms, Google+ is still closed to businesses. They are testing select business profiles on the platform, but have not yet rolled out business profiles to the general public. In fact, according to Google, they are "actively closing profiles that are being used by businesses."
I read a blog by Cynthia Hsu on FindLaw that seems to position Google+ as a revenue source for law firms.
While I think all social networking provides the potential for lawyers to cultivate existing and new business relationships, it remains to be seen if this is the case with Google+. Time will certainly tell.
There are also a lot of SEO strategists out there who are raving about Google+ and I can't blame them. Remember, Google+ is owned by Google, which is the most highly used search engine on the Web. Google changes its algorithms regularly and often increases the ranking of valid content that is hosted on its platforms. We saw this when Google purchased YouTube. All of a sudden, YouTube content came up much higher in Internet searches.
So here are some other things to know. If your target audience for new business development is men between the ages of 18 and 34, they are currently the largest segment of Google+ early adopters, according to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney, public relations and marketing expert, she is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Rubel and her PR and marketing firm have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, web and graphic design, strategic planning, and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, and you can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.