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I'm ashamed to admit that I've been shying away from Google+ for far too long. Despite my SEO-crazed friends begging me to become an active user, I just didn't want "the hassle" of using yet another social network.

However, with around an eighth of the users that Facebook has, Google+ is rapidly expanding its popularity. Praised typically for the benefits it can provide to one's search rankings, this underused social network is the future of social media, especially for businesses.

Though Google+ still has some convincing to do to attract those 700 million Facebook users, its lighter, more life-like feel is gaining the approval of the masses every day.

So, allow me to convince you that Google+ is worth your company's time.

Google+ is the new nothing because Google just is

Let's be honest... Google kind of controls the Internet. Moreover, Facebook has become more and more irritating to users over the years, with its incessant advertisements, updates about people we stopped caring about back when we had Friendster, and constant demands for you to meet "Hot Singles!" in your area. Am I right or am I right?

Google+ streamlines the social media experience, letting you put people in different "circles," kind of like real life. I mean, you wouldn't send that hilarious meme to everyone who works in your company, would you? (Maybe you would. I don't know how cool your workplace is.)

Circles let you easily decide what groups of people you interact and share with, making it less likely that your boss will see that picture of your job interview outfit when you were off sick Tuesday.

Google's SEO wizard told me to stop ignoring Google+

Though the exact effect of Google+ on page rankings isn't really known, optimizing your Google+ page improves your company's chances of showing up in search results and alters the results you see based on how people in your circles have +1ed certain content. Google+ posts can rank in search engine results pages, which is a great reason in itself to start using it. Companies such as Starbucks and the Economist have already admitted that they use Google+ mainly for SEO purposes. The New York Times also reported that Google offers brands incentives to sign up to Google+, with benefits such as prime search result placement and promotional posts.

Communities allow you to build relationships, find relevant content that's interesting to you, and promote yourself.

Google+ also allows you to get involved with what professionals (and, of course, celebrities) are talking about in a way that Facebook doesn't. Connect with like-minded people who share your interests and passions. It will help you to build your network and establish a stronger social media presence overall.

Google+ is like Skype, but you can wear fun masks

Some of my group project meetings in college took place with Google Hangouts, the decision behind which was swayed by Google's novelty accessories made available while video chatting. I see no real reason to participate in any other type of "hangout"ever again.

It looks cooler.

Go see for yourself.

And the real convincer is that Google+ doesn't have ads

Shout out to you, Google, for making my social media experience less disruptive and less annoying.

I hate to admit it, but I'm fairly confident that the future is Google+.

Continue reading "Why You Need to Stop Avoiding Google+" ... Read the full article

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image of Samantha Shelley

Samantha Shelley is an Oxford comma-promoting, England-hailing, non-tea-drinking, sarcasm-loving, Comic Sans-fearing, haiku-endorsing, idea-generating, grammar-obsessing, hashtag-abusing, compound modifier-using copywriter at Red Olive, a Web-design company.

LinkedIn: Samantha Shelley

Twitter: @thesampso