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The fact that you actually clicked this link and have started reading this post makes you a little different. It makes you a “Thinks Outside The Box” business person. It makes you that guy or girl that jumps ship from the Apple Ipod to a Microsoft Zune (yes, I said Microsoft Zune). The main difference between Microsoft Zune and Google+ is that one works and the other does not. Google+ can help broaden your business’s reach in front of other brands, potential customers, Google searchers and increase engagement. The Microsoft Zune makes a great paperweight or could potentially earn you $1.87 on Ebay. Where the Zune failed and the Ipod succeeded could have also been Google+’s fate had Google not turned the product on its head and made it a major contender versus Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.
Why Even Start With Google+?
Google+ once made me a laughing stock around the Beacon offices. “Why are you on Google+?”, “Is it fun networking with 6 other dudes on Google+?” or “Are you sharing your posts with yourself on there?” were commonplace for a long while from my co-workers and still are for some. But the funny thing is…now more and more of them come to ask me questions about Google+ or recommend a Google+ strategy for social media marketing. Why the change of heart do you ask?
By The Numbers:
Google+ and its numbers are starting to make an impact on business owners, online marketers and brands alike because of its rapid growth and integration with other Google products. For example, Google+ accounts are now required to leave comments on Youtube, Google+ and one of the most widely used business mail clients and personal email clients, GMail, has integrated with Google+, not to mention pages and profiles are now incorporated increasingly more often in search results. From an engagement standpoint, Google+ users are more likely to engage with content you post than tehy are with Twitter and almost equal to that of Facebook. (see below)
How To Maximize On This?
This is the easy part. All you need is to signup for a Google+ account or sign-in to your current account and start creating! Tips: Make sure you upload a quality logo for your profile photo, a visually and brand-appealing cover photo and fill in the About section.
Step 2: Claim Your Custom URL
Make sure once you’ve created your page that you claim a custom URL. (These are being grabbed up quickly so act NOW) These are great because you have branded and shareable URLs for your marketing campaigns.
Once your page is created you can begin adding other users and pages to your circles. Think LinkedIn companies or users that you want to network, share news with and receive news from. You can control these circles and create different ones to correlate with your business units. (As a law firm you can create a Bankruptcy Circle, a Family Law circle and a Community Partners Circle) This allows you to share your messages with different subsets of your followers. This control makes it easy to tailor and customize marketing messages. Google also makes it easy to share your pages with custom +1 buttons and badges.
Step 4: Join Communities
Communities act the same way that Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups work. These are open to the public or privately shared communities where like-minded individuals can pose questions, share ideas and communicate freely. They also give you an opportunity to sell your brand, communicate new ideas, share products and more. Even small communities have shown great engagement with a nice percentage of the users interacting with your post in some way. An example would be an “Outdoor Adventure” community designed to share great getaways, hikes, biking trails, gear and products. This is an easy way to reach interested parties with what your brand has to offer.
Step 5: Verify Your Page & Website
One of the greatest things you can do to help leverage Google+ is to verify your email, website and brand page with publisher tags and two-way verification that Google employs. You can get started by navigating to the Contributor to section of your brand page and update your website as one of the links. (It is also helpful to list any blogs, social media accounts and other business links that may be useful to users) You also need to update your primary email on your domain to the Contact section. (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) For more information on setting up Authorship and installing publisher tags, please reference an earlier blog I wrote on Authorship. Another added benefit of tying your site and brand page together is that Google will serve your search results up with information from your page (see above)
Go The Extra Mile With Added Features
Google+ is extremely robust and offers multiple ways to promote, share and tag your content so it is easy for users to find. Below are just a few:
Google+ Hashtags, just like Twitter, are used to easily search, catalog and share content specific to a certain audience or promotion. Look for hashtags that are currently being used or trending and use them in related posts to help them be found in searches on Google+. Make sure to use the hashtags created for any events or trade shows you may attend so you can meet up or network with other attendees. Google+ even has a unique feature that pulls trending keywords out of your posts and creates hashtags to make your content viral.
Hangouts are essentially video chatrooms for business people (not creepy people), and let Google+ users to participate in live video chats. Hangouts can be open in any of your Circles, offered to friends via email, or left public so that anyone could choose to participate and collaborate. The kicker is that all participants are required to have a webcam, mic and a Google+ profile (Look at Google locking people in). Hangouts are great because they can be used for telecommuters for business meetings, brands to give mini commercials for products and the new Hangouts On The Air allow businesses to create their own vlogs.
Google+ has an excellent event platform that easily synchronizes itself with Google documents, Google Calndar and Google+ to help make your next event successful. Create beautiful themes and covers to showcase what your next event is about and share the details with users in your circles. You can even create public events that any user can find and join.
Photos, Photos, Photos…
Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to add photos and albums at higher resolutions so you can retain the integrity of your work. Creating albums, tagging and sharing has never been easier with the easy uploader and sorting features. This is a great way to showcase your office, staff, products and services in a unique way that may help show your business in Google image searches as well.
Google+ isn’t for everyone. Just like the Microsoft Zune, it has had its fair share of neigh-sayers (unrightfully so) and its share of competition to fight through. What Google+ has on its side is the world’s most powerful and most-used search engine backing it. This fact will keep Google+ at the forefront; integrating itself into commonly used products, impacting search results, impacting buying decisions and opening up doors for brand they may have never opened otherwise.