Lately I’ve been wondering just how much or how little I should be talking, with clients and with groups I present to, about the still relatively new but in many ways quite fascinating service, Google Plus.

Google+The company calls this the Google+ Project and explains it as “real life sharing, re-thought for the web”.

Ambitious concept.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my real life sharing works more simply and more effectively than my attempts on Google+ to share and join in other peoples’s sharing.

But it’s early days and many people are trying to figure out whether this is truly the Next Big Thing, or another great idea by Google that never got sufficient traction to become a serious contender in the battle of the social media platforms (remember Google Wave?).

I don’t want to overload clients and others with bright, shiny, new social media items for the sake of it, but at the same time I don’t want to neglect alerting them to things I think they should know about, so that they can keep up with the game, so to speak.

Because the fact is, when I’m talking about social media with business people who are not heavily into the topic, I find many of them feel quite overwhelmed with the plethora of social networking platforms and options. So, rather than adding to their overwhelm, I endeavour, while still sketching for them the big picture about social business, to chunk it down to digestible portions.

That usually includes providing my recommended list of a handful of platforms any business should be on or at least consider being on. I should mention that, in terms of the people I’m usually addressing, the list is focused on what I would regard as basic in terms of doing business in the USA, Canada, the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. For China, Brazil and a number of other countries the options vary, with different platforms having to be taken into account.

With that latter proviso, the basic list was until recently: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, company blog.

Just how  and to what extent each of those or other platforms are to be used most effectively will depend on a particular company’s business and social media strategies.

So if I want people to feel confident about my basic list, as I do, would I even consider including Google Plus as part of the recommended basic kit?

Well, given what I’ve seen so far, I believe that even at this early stage businesses should know about Google+ and individuals within the business who have business management or social media management responsibilities should be aware of it and probably should join and put some time into learning how it works.

It may well be that Google+ will soon be part of my recommended “basic business kit” for social media engagement.

But at least one key factor for me, before that happens, is that the user base will need to be more reflective of the wider population. As Richard McManus observed in an interesting post yesterday, “While Google Plus has a fervent base of early adopter users, it hasn’t managed to attract mainstream people yet.”

So the short answer is no, not part of the recommended basic kit – or not yet.

As far as I can tell, becoming a Google+ user is still by invitation only. Like many others, I have quite a stack of invitations, so if you have not yet received an invitation and would like one, please email me at deswalsh(at)gmail(dot)com and ask: I’ll be happy to send until they run out.

Next week, as part of my monthly free Social Media Strategy webinar series, I will be focusing on Google+ for business, going through the various features and indicating where I see possibilities and limitations for this platform in the business context. If you have not yet registered for these webinars, you might like to do so at this link (recordings of all the previous webinars are available for registered participants).

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).