What is Google+?
Google created and launched its own social network in 2011 called Google+.
Aside from being “just another social media platform,” Google+ also integrates Google products, services and search engine features all into one easy-to-navigate page. As a business, you can create a Google+ Page and build a community around it. This not only gives you the benefit of connecting your business with potential customers, but also boosts your website’s placement in Google-powered search engine results.
Why Google+ Matters
It’s no secret that Google is the most popular search engine on the web. In fact, the term “Google” has gone from a company’s name and product, to a verb used to describe the act of searching on the internet. When someone “Googles” your business, you want them to find you easily, right? Using Google’s products to boost your search results, and increase your sphere of influence, is an effective way to do just that.
Rumor has it that websites with verified Google+ Business Pages get some good search engine karma from Google. Google+ content indexes well with Google’s search robots, so websites that post often appear higher in search results. Active use of Google + can lead more potential customers to you – Good news!
What You Can Do with Google+
Like other social networks, Google+ allows members to connect and share text, photos and links. But Google+ also offers some unique opportunities to connect via video chat, multimedia content and more.
On Google+ you can:
- Create “Circles” of people and companies that your business interacts with – such as customers, vendors and partners.
- Schedule and host video chats via Google Hangouts.
- Post photos, videos, links and statuses – either to the public or to specific Circles in your network.
- Create and participate in interest groups.
Quick Glance Google+ Glossary
Circle: An organization system for the people and Pages you follow. This allows you to create targeted lists of your audience so that the right updates go to the right folks and brands.
+1: The Google+ equivalent of Liking something on Facebook. By clicking the +1 icon on a Page or post, a user is saying, “This is good – I like it!”
Tag: To mention a person or Page in a post. This is done by putting a “+” before the name of the person or Page in a status update. The person or Page will receive a notification on Google+ when you do this and may receive an email, depending on the settings of their account.
Hashtag: A Word or phrase (without spaces) that is preceded by the # symbol. Hashtags are used to keep related content grouped so that those interested in a certain subject can easily locate it.
Hangout: A video chat between up to 10 Google+ users. These can be streamed live for more folks to watch, and the video can be saved to YouTube.
Should Your Biz Be on Google+?
Yes! Though it might feel like juggling yet another social network, this is not one to miss. Because of the search engine benefits and the Google connection, being on Google+ is necessary for your business. It’s also easy.
If you’re a small brick-and-mortar business, claim your Google+ Local listing, which is a business listing with Zagat information that is automatically created by Google.
Convinced? Then it’s time to tap into the power and benefits of Google+.
To join Google+ as a business, you must first join as an individual using a Gmail account. Start by creating your Google+ personal profile, then you can use that to set up your Google+ Business Page and claim your Google+ Local listing.
Creating a Google+ Page for Your Business
- Click on the “More” link at the bottom of the left sidebar to find the Pages section.
- Click “Create New Page.”
- Choose the category that fits your business.
- Fill in the necessary information.
- Upload your logo, and a cover photo if you have one.
- Start posting.
Make sure to add the Google+ chicklet (widget) to all pages of your website or blog so that those who come to your site can +1 your pages and share them with their networks.
What’s Google+ Local?
When Google users search for your business, a Google+ Page comes up containing location, hours and other information – and if you’ve claimed that Page, you can revise the information and make changes. “I think one of the most overlooked areas of optimization for a small business are their local results. Many small businesses are local in nature, so optimizing their Google+ Local Page [is] very important,” says John E. Turner of Postali.com. “Often times people don’t even claim these listings, leaving it up to everyone else to decide what is being reported about their business. Local optimization is not the same as traditional search engine optimization, so make sure you get out there and claim, complete and optimize all of your business listings.”
Effective Use of Google+
Because Google+ is a more robust service, it takes a little more effort than other social networks to set up and run. As you follow people and other companies for your business, you’ll want to add them to Circles so that you can keep your contacts organized. For instance, you may want to create a Circle for local customers and another for online customers. You may also want to create a Circle for vendors or businesses with whom you’d like to work.
By organizing those you follow into Circles, you have the ability to tailor what content goes to each group, increasing the effectiveness of everything you do.
When folks in your Circles follow you back and you send updates to the Circle they’re in, an option appears at the bottom of the update box that says “Also send email to CIRCLE NAME.” If you check this, then everyone in that Circle will receive an email about your update. Sounds good, right? Not always. Use this feature sparingly so only your most newsworthy or important posts send an email
Creating Share-Worthy Content on Google+
Twitter is for conversations. Facebook is for community building. Google+ is for information. Think of it as the classroom or manual of social media sites—and treat your postings as such.
What should you be sharing? You’ll want to share new content from your website so that the links get that search engine boost from being mentioned on Google+, but that’s not all. Google+ is the perfect place to post tips, brief how-to items and articles that are more relevant to your business. The more useful the post, the more likely it’ll be commented on or shared. Basically, you want to inform and enlighten your audience by being an expert in your field.
How Often to Post
While there are lots of people and businesses signed up on Google+, not many are regularly participating. Do you know what that means? More opportunity for you!
Since there is so much opportunity to make a name for yourself and your business on Google+, you should try to post at least once a day—if not a few times each day. Also, if you’re mentioning a specific person or business, tag them in your posts by putting a “+” and type their name. A list will come up, and you can click the right person to add. Interacting with other users sparks engagement with your followers.
Engagement on Google+
Your Google+ presence is only as strong as your engagement with other Google+ users. Why? Because the more your posts get liked, commented on and shared, the more powerful they become in Googleland. But how do you get seen, heard and shared?
You have to build your community—that means adding folks and businesses of interest to your Circles, interacting with them and keeping your fingers crossed they follow you back. You can also add a Google+ link to your website or blog so that fans can easily find and follow you.
Encouraging G+ Sharing
The more your Page and posts are shared on Google+, the more valuable your Google+ account becomes. That’s important for the search engine aspect of things. Encourage your followers to interact and share whatever you’re posting by keeping your statuses, photos and videos information-rich and interesting.
Who are You trying to Reach?
You’ll want to connect with influencers. Tag them in your posts, when appropriate, comment on their posts as your business, and add them to your Circles.
Hashtags on Google+
A hashtag is a keyword or keyphrase (without spaces) that is preceded by the # sign. This transforms the word into a hyperlink that groups the status or post with others using the same hashtag. When you type # into the status box on Google+, it’ll automatically generate suggestions as you type, allowing you to see potential hashtags to choose from.
Dos and Don’ts of Hashtagging
Do: hashtag all your Google+ posts.
Don’t: just post a link and include tons of hashtags (spam alert!).
Do: use various hashtags to capture several themes within the post.
Don’t: use multiple variations of the same word (overkill!).
Do: use the hashtags that Google+ suggests as you’re typing.
Don’t: use acronyms that you’ve made up as a hashtag (no one will find you!).
Why Hashtags Matter
Your goal with social media is to expand your audience and increase their engagement, right? Hashtags help you to reach more people. Simply put, hashtags allow more users to find your status updates and Google+ Page. More eyes for your business on Google+ can translate into more followers, and ultimately more clients.
Choose your hashtags wisely, selecting only those that directly relate to your industry. Don’t be afraid to use 2 or 3 hashtags at once (too many can look spammy).
Google+ Management in a Jiffy
Adding Google+ to your social media repertoire doesn’t have to be stressful and time consuming. With good planning, managing your Google+ account could take mere minutes each day.
So, how do you do that? Here’s a simple three-step plan for keeping your Google+ work easy, fast and effective:
- Post something new—whether it’s a tip for your customers, a link to a new blog post or page, or a photo that shows something neat about your business. Post something straight from your website and don’t forget to hashtag it.
- Read and respond to other posts. This is where organized Circles come in handy. You can select whose updates to see using your Circles, rather than viewing everyone’s posts simultaneously. This also lets you target posts for specific segments of your audience.
- Respond and share. When someone tags you in a post, respond. When you see something that’s a great fit for your own audience, share it. These are the things that will take your Google+ posting from talking at people to talking with people—a good thing for your business.
Automating Google+ Updates (yes, it’s possible)
There isn’t yet the breadth of options for automating Google+ that other social networks have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It is! If you use the Chrome browser, you can download the Do Share plugin and schedule some of your posts in advance. However, it’s important to remember that some degree of management does need to be handled manually—especially since responding to others is such an important part of Google+ management.
When you follow the tips in this guide, you should be on your way to Google+ success. Simply posting new and interesting info, effectively using hashtags and conversing with people is all it takes to make an impact on this social network. With a small investment of time, you too can build up your business profile for the search engine giant, resulting in more customers – always +1 in our book!
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