You’ve got a lot of options to choose from when you start making decisions about the social media platforms that you will use–and how you will use them. Some are better for fun–places where you might catch up with family and friends for a chat or learn about the latest from your favorite band.
Others, like LinkedIn, are clearly “strictly business” portals.
With some services, the lines of use aren’t so clear. For example, Google+ looks a lot like Facebook, which means that one might think it’s a safe “fun” platform. But if you really study it closely you’ll find that it’s a platform that should be used primarily for business purposes unless you are very careful and conscientious about using your circles to make sure that the right content gets to the right people.
Why the paranoia about Google+ for personal use? The answer lies on the SERPs.
If you have a Google+ profile then you’re going to get an Information card on the right hand side of the SERPs page. This card will include your photograph and will draw the eye like nothing on the SERPs does.
And your recent Google+ post is always placed right at the bottom of the card for the world to see.
If the post was insightful and informative this is great. It helps to create a first impression of you as an expert, or at least as a contributor.
If your post is a drunken rant then you have just shot yourself in the foot…and a picture of your lunch isn’t going to be much better.
The Information Card isn’t the only place that your posts will show up. They may well show up in the SERPs too, both for your name and for keywords associated with the topics you’re writing about. This makes Google+ a powerful tool for building a positive reputation, but only if you stick to stuff that builds your personal brand.
And while you could use circles to make sure that the “lunch” posts only go to your family and friends, it might be a better policy to avoid using Google+ for those purposes altogether. After all, it only takes you forgetting to set your circles correctly on a single post for you to jeopardize your online reputation.
Stick to more private social networks for your personal activities. You’ll be thankful that you did when you get that job offer or that major client.
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