You have a dedicated business blog. You post at least a few times a week, and link your posts to your social media pages. Going face-to-face on Facebook, tweeting as regularly as a bird at daybreak, linking-up on LinkedIn and posting pretty pictures on Pinterest, you’re a regular social networking butterfly, but if the Google+ icon is conspicuous by its absence on your business blog, you need to get with the program.
Granted, the Google+ debut into social media society triggered cries of “not another social networking site,” but despite the cynicism of the naysayers, the site quickly gained momentum. As Google+ gathered an international following of tremendous proportions. Many discovered its potential as a marketing tool. Here’s what they learned.
1. Google Business Pages
When the search engine giant known as Google added business pages to their social media site, savvy business owners leaped onto the bandwagon, and discovered a highly influential marketing tool. A Google+ business page offers a social media version of your company’s website, complete with a custom url, your company logo, and – if you wish – lots of pictures and videos. It allows you to promote your services and interact with present and potential customers, thereby building rapport, trust and a sense of recognition in your specific field of expertise.
2. Protect Your Brand Identity
Unfortunately, brand identity theft has become common practice. Anyone can use your company’s name, set up a website, and steal clients that should rightfully belong to you. Google+ protects your brand identity in two different ways. First, you must set up a personal account before you establish a business page. This is actually a good thing. Why? Because Google is all about authenticity. By verifying your identity and establishing yourself as the owner of your business, nobody can create a fake page on your behalf. Second, the high level of visibility on Google’s top search pages discourages impostors from setting up a fake account, because your page obviously looks more authentic. Setting up the two Google+ accounts is definitely worth the time, the effort and the dedication.
3. Because It’s Google!
This should be a no-brainer, but many people miss the point. As the world’s largest search engine, Google is picky about which businesses it puts on its front pages. A Google+ business page increases your chances. Don’t, however, expect it to happen auto-magically. Like any other business page, useful and informative content puts you at the head of the class. The next time you research a hotel or restaurant, look to the right of the search results. If the business has a Google+ page, it will appear in all its glory at the top of the search results, complete with a map, links to your images, and your business contact information.
4. Google Authorship
The Google Authorship project facilitates a verified connection between your original content anywhere on the web and your Google+ profiles. Once you join Google Authorship, your photo, along with a link to your Google Plus profile, appears in the search engines. If you have written other content, the search results will also link to those pages. The more informative content you contribute on different websites, the more respect, recognition and credibility your brand receives. Since people are most likely to relate to faces than words, the photo adds a personal touch to your status as an expert. Richard Branson illustrates this point. With 5,389,604 adding him to their Google+ circles, he has become the face of Virgin Atlantic.
5. Google+ Has Staying Power
Your tweets have an estimated 14 minutes of life online, but your Google+ posts have staying power, explains Steve Rayson of Social Media Today. Even one year after your initial posting, your valuable content can remain at the top of the search results pages.
6. G+ Ripples
Content, as they say, is king, but a king without a kingdom is no king at all. You only build your social sovereignty when people read and share your content. That’s why the clever folks at Google Plus created G+ Ripples, an interactive circle graph that shows you who shares your posts. To see who shared your words of wisdom, click on the small down arrow at the upper right hand corner of your post and select “view ripples.” A graph appears, which shows the original post at the center. The circles radiating outward show who shared your post, and the smaller circles along the perimeter indicate who shared from the sharers. This valuable feedback tells you which type of content is most interesting to potential clients.
7. Google+ is Huge and Size Matters
On May 1, 2013, Business Insider reported that Google+ has 359 million active users, surpassing Twitter and making it the world’s second largest social networking website. These numbers provide you with an enormous marketing playing field for sharing your business ideas.
Facebook has special interest groups. Twitter has hashtags. Google+ has communities, composed of people with similar interests. Used correctly, a Google+ community can provide a tremendous business boost. Be an active participant, offer some advice with no strings attached, and avoid spamming. Your expertise will speak for itself.
9. Hangouts Online
Wouldn’t it be great if you could communicate with potential clients from any corner of the globe? Google+ Hangouts online makes it so. These video chat rooms allow you to organize company meetings, even in inclement weather, arrange customer support sessions and show videos of your soon-to-be released products.
10. The Cool People Hang Out on Google+
When Bradford Lowry created his Google+ Fitness and Nutrition Community, he had no ideas that he was being watched, specifically by Michelle Obama. So impressed was the fit and feisty first lady, that she invited Lowry to a Google+ Hangout Online, to discuss her Let’s Move Initiative. Imagine having that type of bragging rights for your business!