Hi Ben, great post! I agree with Alison - I see Google+ as mostly an SEO tool, mostly because Google owns it. Personally, I still have a lot to learn about the platform.
@Candace Graves Thanks for your comments, Candace! One of the things I really love about Google+ is communities. So many niche, active communities exist which foster really great conversations and dialogs. I am constantly exploring communities to connect with new people. I think Hangouts is a really great feature as well. To be able to have 10 people video chat FOR FREE anywhere around the world... amazing. Yes, primarily Google+ is a great SEO tool. But it offers so much more than that. It isn't necessarily all about the social features. It's about customizing your search/internet experience and making it better for YOU.
It's not "fair" but Google+ is also a necessary part of SEO strategy - undoubtedly a presence (and +1s) on Google+ will affect Google ranking abilities.
Local is also a big thing with Google/Google+.
I wonder if we eve need to think of Google+ as a social platform...there are social aspects, but I think that in general Google products can drive work environments and I see Google+ as a way to supplement Google Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Groups, etc. One thing I actually would like to see that would contribute to Google+ as a social platform is integration with Google Groups. Maybe this exists, but since I am not actively sharing on Google+ I don't know about it. I say this because I am on countless listserves powered by Google Groups that have been great in forming online communities. It would be cool to somehow integrate Groups and Circles to provide a stream of content through a social networking platform rather than through email. It would be nice to put faces to some of the names I see so often!
Great post! Definitely starting to see the value of G+ for brands - especially for ones who provide a service and may need to use the Hangouts/Google On Air function for customer service tactics. I feel like G+ may be making a comeback...
@GabieKur Thanks for your comments, Gabie! I think there is great value in Google+. While, as I said, I use it mostly to shameless plug my new blog posts (and it drives traffic like crazy, by the way) I definitely see more potential than just that. Let's all do a hangout sometime!