A lot of Monday Morning quarterbacks have been predicting the success and subsequent failure of Google+ as a social network. However, Google+ isn’t here to be your new Facebook or even a social network. Google+ is here to do what Google did: change the way we use the Internet.

This time, however, Google+ is here to change your social graph. Although it’s not a social network per se, Google+ is integrating its various sites, such as YouTube, Reader, Gmail and others, so as you move through the Internet, your identity is seamless and comes with you, unlike other aggregator sites that attempt to manage your social profiles with a single log-in through a central site.

Google+ has been gaining steam – not only for consumers (who else would be part of the 1 million following Britney Spears?) but for brands, too, where 77 of the top 100 brands now have pages.

This isn’t to say that brands should flock to Google+ and abandon other social networks. However, brands should be thinking about Google+ as a tool that may become as essential to search as metadata, relevant links or AdWords. After launching pages for companies, Google has quickly added features that companies need to manage the pages properly.

Beyond page management, Google has started to experiment with search placement for brands’ Google+ profiles. While many small businesses have come to rely on the relevance and traffic from Google Places, the integration of Places and Plus could bring significant changes to the search scene.

For individuals, don’t think of Google+ as a social network that you’re constantly visiting and connecting to, but rather as a tool to unify the services you use through the company. In the future, it may be the tool to help you discover new products and services.

For brands, the challenge is to “reserve” your page, experiment with search results and wait and see what Google does next to integrate the service with its other properties. With the integration of search results, traffic from those consumer eyeballs may just increase – and not only to pop singers’ pages.

— Tonja Deegan is the social media director at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.