Contributed by Alex Hinojosa

In the world of social networks, innovation can quickly change the field of frontrunners — remember LiveJournal?

We just saw it again as Google+ overtook Twitter to claim the No. 2 spot behind Facebook. And the new kid is already better than Mark Zuckerberg's baby for small businesses, professional firms and entrepreneurs, says Alex Hinojosa, vice president of media operations for EMSI (www.emsipublicrelations.com).

"I knew Google+ would attract a big following because it really lends itself to business uses and SEO," said Hinojosa, who has witnessed the value of Google+ grow exponentially in the daily operations of his PR firm.

A new Global Web Index study shows Google+ grew to 343 million users globally in December, or about 25 percent of global Internet users. Facebook still accounts for 50 percent of the pie.

"Facebook continues to go through self-imposed changes that are seeing mixed responses from longtime users," Hinojosa said. "The new No. 2 has much, much more to offer than simply being an alternative to the big dog."

Hinojosa reviews the merits of Google+ as a business tool, and why he believes the social network will continue its meteoric rise:

  • Power: Google+ may be the new kid when it comes to social media — it's not even 2 years old yet — but Google has become synonymous with anything online. The "new kid" offers something that no other social media platform can: Google power.
  • Overwhelming advantage: "Google loves its newest offspring and it favors any post, article, picture and link posted on Google+," Hinojosa said. "If you post a link on your Google+ about asthma remedies, and one of your connections is logged in to Google+ and searches for asthma remedies, your post will show up high in his Google search results."
  • In action: Let's say you own an art gallery full of nature photos. Your website for promoting the gallery highlights "mountain photos," "wildlife photos," and "waterfall photos" and you've created matching URLs for each page, such as bobsnaturephotos. com/waterfallphotos. Now you head over to post your newest update on Google+. You post a message about the waterfall, then you add the link to your waterfall page, bobsnaturephotos. com/waterfallphotos. Now, whenever one of your connections types "waterfall photos" into a Google search, whether it's days, weeks or months later, there you are on page 1 of the results. Your post shows up, your profile picture shows up, and your link shows up.

"Once upon a time MySpace was king, but over a period of about a year the world made a seamless transition onto Facebook, which may very well see a mass exodus of users," Hinojosa said. "If your business or employer is not already on Google+, it's time to make the move."

Alex Hinojosa is the vice president of Media Operations at EMSI Public Relations, where he oversees the execution of print (traditional & online), radio, TV and social media campaigns. He has an extensive background in radio, working as a national talk-show host and executive producer for CBS Radio, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment and ESPN, and is also a (social) media coach and fill-in talk show host for Genesis Communications Florida.

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