Google+ is Social Media’s sleeping giant. Claiming over 100 million users, this Google product is quickly being integrated into every aspect of Google’s service offerings – from search to Gmail to Google Places and everything in between. Yet lots of users still perceive Google+ as a ghost town, citing that their friends aren’t there to interact with….yet. Guy Kawaski, Google+ user extraordinaire, explains this social network’s role in the this way: “Facebook is for people, Twitter is for perceptions, Pinterest is for pictures, and Google+ is for passions.”
What does Google+ bring to the table for your business that would compel you to invest time and energy into it as part of your overall Internet marketing strategy? Why add yet another Social network to the mix? How can your business become passionate about Google+?
Here Are 4 Things That Will Change Your Mind About Google+
1) Social Search
If you’re already using a personal Google+ account you might have noticed back in January that the profile pictures of your Google+ friends were appearing in Search results on Google. This is Google’s way of saying that Social connections are becoming a more important factor in overall Search results.
Think about it this way - would you be more likely to buy or read something that appeared on the first page of Google results or something that appeared on the first page of Google results and was recommended by a friend or personal connection? The choice seems obvious.
On and offline, we are influenced to purchase products and services based on recommendations from people we trust.
On the Internet, we have become excessively time-poor and actively seek out reading only the most pertinent and relevant blogs, news stories, and articles - this is Google’s way of delivering those pieces of information to us. In the above instance, this blog post is more relevant to me as I have already circled this user. Since I did a search for “Facebook,” I’m likely to find the 90 personal results much more useful and streamlined than the 22 billion other search results Google has indexed for “facebook.”
2) SEO & the +1 Button
Like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ also offers its own “Like” button, dubbed the “+1 Button.” When someone “+1′s” your content, it’s a vote for that page and can have a positive impact on search rankings for that page and for your website in general.
Even if you haven’t set up a Google+ account for your business, add the +1 button to your content pages. Hubspot, an inbound marketing firm, recently released a study of their 4000+ customers and revealed this fact: “websites using Google’s +1 button get 3.5x the Google+ visits [than those that do not employ the button.]” 3.5x the visits to your websites is nothing to scoff at - each of those visits is a potential lead or customer.
3) Market Segmenting by Circles
If you’re already using a Google+ personal profile then you know that you can add anyone to your circles without them adding you back to their cirlces. It’s a little bit different when it comes to Google+ Business Pages. In order to add someone to your circles, they must first circle your Google+ Business Page. The circles options that currently exist for Google+ Business Pages are: “Customers,” “VIPs,” “Following,” & “Team Members.”
When you share an update to Google+ you can choose which of your circles you share (or do not share) with. You would want to use the circle “Team Members” to share works in progress and interesting articles to be posted at a later date - they will be the only people who see these updates. The “Following” circle is best for categorizing thought leaders and industry leaders as this is an easy way to disseminate, organize, and share their content which is relevant to your Business Page. For “VIPs” you may want to offer an exclusive deal such as a whitepaper or affiliate program that you wouldn’t necessarily offer to your “Customers.”
Here’s a few quick tips on how to get people to add your Google+ Business Page to your circles: add the Google+ badge to your website, share your Google+ Business Page on your other social networks and encourage users to connect with you there, or run a Google Adwords campaign that directs users to your Google+ Business Page.
4) Google+ Hangouts
Certainly one of the coolest features of Google+ is Hangouts, free video conferencing, similar to Skype, but on steroids. A regular Google+ Hangout allows you to videoconference with 10 people simultaneously. This in and of itself can be incredibly useful for meetings, webinars, and consultations.
This short video from Google explains the basic functions of Google+ Hangouts. The video is directed to people with personal profiles, but it helps to understand the concept better.
However, the real coolness comes with Hangouts On Air. Hangouts on Air allow you to broadcast yourself to any number of people AND Google auto-magically records it and posts the video YouTube in the process. Not only do you increase the reach of your content dramatically and for free, but you can then re-purpose the YouTube video to share on your website, blog, and other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The jury is still out on Google+ as the social network is in its nascency. What we suggest is creating a Google+ Business Page, sharing different (and visual!) content than your other social networks, and experimenting with its unique functionality with your brand or business. Some brands have already amassed followers in the millions and the rewards could be huge. The potential payoff of Google+ is added search relevancy, connecting with your customers based on their passions, and carving out a niche for your business long before it becomes overpopulated like Facebook.
Stay tuned to for our next blog where will tell you all the news about the changes Google is making to Local Google+ Pages and Google Places for Business - and how your business can take advantage of them!
What are your favorite Google+ features? Need help setting up your Google+ account for your business? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below