If it seems like Google+ is constantly changing and being updated, because it is! As one of the dominant social networks, they’re making improvements and launching new features for both personal and business users on an ongoing basis.

Here are a few of the significant updates to Google+ from the beginning of the year to now and how they affect social media marketers:

Google+ Application Sign-In

Launch date: February 26, 2013

In a post on their Developers blog, the Google+ team announced the launch of Google+ Sign-In for applications. Brands with Android, iOS or web apps should be aware of this change, as it means users bring their Google+ history and data with them to the app experience.

This was designed to offers users a more personalized experience in apps, though it does mean for marketers that app activity will only appear in user streams when Google+ deems it relevant. It’s more important than ever that brands build affinity with their app users by keeping them engaged, to indicate that strong relationship to Google+.

This update also enhanced sharing from apps, which could be a boon for brands. Users who access an app with Google+ Sign-In can share interactive posts in the newsfeeds of friends based on their app activity. For example, interacting with a product and sharing that activity would allow the user’s social connections to see the activity and click on it to go into the app themselves.

Larger Cover Photos and Local Reviews

Launch date: March 6, 2013

Google+ updates and the effects for marketers

This Google+ update was multi-faceted and included:

  • Larger cover photos, increasing to 2,120 by 1,192 pixels, for a 16:9 ratio. This made the images approximately twice as tall as they were before the update. For brands, this is a great opportunity for more visual messaging on their company pages.
  • An About tab redesigned, which organizes information into cards. Users and brands can choose which cards will be displayed (see image above).
  • A new Local Reviews tab. Google Product Manager Sara McKinley explained, “In addition to your photos, +1's and YouTube videos, there's now a place for all your Local reviews. Highlight your favorite restaurants, or hide the tab completely via settings.” This ability to share and display Local reviews right from user profiles makes them all the more important to businesses.

These updates rolled out gradually to all users throughout March.

Google+ Comments Come to Blogger Blogs

Launch date: April 18, 2013

Marketers using Google’s blogging platform will be interested to know Google+ comments have been integrated with Blogger.

Once the feature is enabled in the Blogger dashboard, all Google+ and blog comments about blog entries are curated in one place. Blog readers also have the ability to change the privacy settings of their comment, between public or private to specific Circles. Google promises, “Giving people these kinds of controls not only encourages more meaningful sharing—it can lead to more blog traffic.”

This can be a time-saver for brands, but also allows for greater interaction between your audience on Google+ and on the company blog. With that said, most companies prefer their own hosting solutions and aren’t comfortable housing content on a free solution like Blogger. Still, small businesses in particular might find this useful.

Expect more updates and features on Google+ as they continue to compete with other platforms to be the social network of choice. Which Google+ features do you find most effective for social media marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments!