Meanwhile on Google+? Not anymore! Many of you must have seen jokes about Google Plus relating to its low popularity. Why use G+ if nobody’s there? Let me disabuse you of this mistake. Social-wise marketers have already noticed the potential in Google’s social networks and their powerful broadcasting tools.
A family story with G+
Imagine yourself in near future, starting a computer. You open your Google account and the calendar reminds you it’s your mother’s birthday today. Wish her a happy birthday with a post on her G+ profile, send an e-card or order a bunch of red tulips, her favourite flowers (as mentioned on the profile), with home delivery in the florist’s A, B or C tagged on Google Maps according to your whereabouts.
You could also invite her to a dinner in a cosy Mediterranean restaurant that serves delicious shrimps – you checked the reviews on Google Local. You create an event on G+ and invite all the family and mother’s friends, apart from one your mother put in Acquaintances circle – you guess they don’t like each other much. Pictures and videos will be shared on Picasa and Youtube.
After the party, your mother gave +1 to the restaurant’s profile. Later on, you have a family hangout with an aunt in Amazonia chatting from her Android mobile. This is the way your potential customers use Google Plus, and the good thing is you can join them there!
Technically speaking, Google+ is not just a social networking website, but a social layer connecting all Google products: emails, documents, real-time communication, calendar, photo and video sharing, etc. Since Google took over YouTube in 2006, every YouTube user starting an account automatically signs up for an account on Google Plus. The number of users is growing faster than anyone expected, including outpacing Twitter.
Another essential factor that draws entrepreneurs to Google+ is SEO. Each post published on G+ is indexed individually, which gives a higher page rank and more findings on Google when you search your brand’s name. The search is also more precise compared to e.g. Facebook fanpages. Every +1 (an equivalent to a “like” on Facebook) for your page gives you the opportunity to move a few levels higher in search results.
If you’re an individual author, you’ll like Google Plus, too – you have an option to mark the ownership of your content. You retain copyright and other rights, which lets you publish original and unique content you wouldn’t share e.g. on Facebook due to its intellectual property policy. When you combine unique content with handy broadcasting and publishing tools, you guarantee your audience a real interactive reader experience. And that’s what you do on G+!
Google Plus offers various features which enable you to publish and share your content:
- Stream, the place where you publish your content and see the content of other users; you may post text (including text files), pictures, links, videos and events.
- Circles, the groups of users you connected. Choose from default circles (friends, family, acquaintances, observed) or create your own. Some social media users even claim that G+ circles are easier to organise than Facebook friends lists.
- Communities, groups of users sharing the same interest. Find enthusiasts of cars, photography or interior design gathered in one place.
- Events (connected with Google calendar), a tool for sharing important occasions with the users in your circles. You can invite them, let them add and share photos which are stored in one place on the net.
- Photo galleries (connected with Picasa), a space to publish, edit, share and organise pictures into albums. You may even create animations from your pictures!
- Local, a tool that enables you to add and view places visited by you or other users, post and share opinions about them. A great source of information about local businesses.
- Hangouts, a multifunctional chat tool including text and video chats from 2 to 10 users, sharing pictures, broadcasting live or recording and sharing videos on Youtube after the talk. Provides high quality, works for both computers and mobile appliances. A great online communication center.
3,2,1… Go Google!
How to start your journey on Google Plus? First of all, sign up for an account – you may both start a company page and your personal profile as a business representative. This gives you more possibilities of approaching your potential customers. Remember about using a simple name which will be easy to search. A smart thing to do is add G+ button to your website so that you let your customers know where to find you on the net! You can do it using Google Plus badge configuration tool.
When editing your profile, choose a pleasant profile picture (250×250 pixels) and an interesting cover photo (2120 x 1192 pixels). Take care of your visuals – add photos or videos that represent your business and attract attention of other users. A lot of options on Google Plus use “drag and drop” mode, which makes its interface remarkably intuitive. Learn from the best when it comes to the visual side of your profile.
Form your circles
After customising the profile, look for people and company profiles to add to your circles. Some users claim that G+ circles are more convenient than Facebook friends lists - browsing each circle takes less time and effort. Search both for influencers in your industry, other businesses profiles and the users who add you to their circles. This way, their circles also see you and may feel encouraged to view your profile.
Community is power
Now, let’s do some real social chatting and search for the communities connected to your branch or the ones that could be associated with them. Entering social media as a business doesn’t really mean talking business. For example, when you own a spa resort, you may look for groups talking about healthy lifestyle, fitness, slow food, natural beauty products as well as the communities of self-assured women, mothers of small children, wedding planners, etc.
Be a careful listener of community conversations – valuable insights might be just a step away. You can start your own community and invite the people in your circles, but remember to offer a unique content for the ones who join it. There is no point in starting a community if you are going to post the same information as in the stream. One more thing – managing a community in any social media network takes time and patience. Making people spend time in your community means that you have to spend some of yours in the beginning.
Here are some business-wise ideas how to use Google+ tools to create the social buzz around your brand:
- Posting one piece of content a day should be just enough to keep in touch with the users in your circles and communities. Keep your content varied, unique and attention drawing. Don’t forget to +1, comment and share other users’ content – nobody will do the same with your posts unless you start noticing other memebers’ activities!
- Organize hangouts with experts in your branch, product demonstrations and other broadcast them live and post on YouTube. This is a great way to offer your customers unique and up-to-date educational content. To get more involved in the community, participate in Hangouts organised by other members – it shows your interest and engagement. Here is how to make a professional Hangout on air.
- Use Events to inform your followers on actions you take not just on G+. Invite them to offers, let them know about new actions on different communication channels (e.g. newsletters, Twitter chats, blog posts, Facebook competitions, etc.), keep them up-to-date with the changes and improvements in your products or services.
- If – for some reason – you don’t visit G+ every day, you can plan your posts in advance using Do Share extension. Convenient, isn’t it?
- Write your posts with different text effects: use *asterisks* for text in bold, _underscores_ for italics or -hyphens- for strike through
this is your text.
- Use #hashtags for keywords to make your posts easy to find in Google search and @mentions (@ before a person/brand name) to let others know you posted about them.
Are you excited to discover the new opportunities Google Plus gives? Or maybe you already benefit from your profile? Share your thoughts with us and see you in GetResponse circles on G+!