Despite much debate about the social network, Google+ has grown to be an impactful marketing channel for businesses looking to achieve results with their customer base. I spoke with 10 of the top Google+ and social media experts about their experience on the social platform and how a business can effectively use the Google+ community to find success.
The big question: What’s one of the most surprising ways to find success as a business on Google+?
Here are their responses.
1. Craft How Your Business Appears in Google Search Results
One of the most powerful and immediately beneficial advantages of setting up a business on Google+ is the SEO value. Since the content that you, the business owner, place on the Google+ business page is directly available to Google, the search engine most of us know and love, this is an excellent opportunity to accomplish two equally important objectives.
The first is to be easily found by those looking for your business or a business like yours. Using Google+ properly very likely results in your content appearing higher in Google search results.
The second is that you are able to craft the information and messaging consistent with your business brand; in other words, you control what shows up in that business listing on Google. Why, oh why, would you want to leave that to chance when it is relatively simple to use Google+ to tell the story the way you’d like it to be told?
Irene Koehler of Almost Savvy helps businesses, executives and professionals make sense of social media and use it in a way that is aligned with their own priorities and objectives. Follow her on Google+.
2. Analyze the Unique Conversations and Actions of the Google+ Community
We do all the things a standard social channel might allow—announcing things that are upcoming for us, and sharing things of interest, etc. I think one of the most interesting ways we use Google+ is to understand our friends, fans in a new light. Their conversations are very different on Google+ versus any other place we talk to our community with.
I’m able to get a really well-rounded view of our fans, seeing both personal and professional conversations, likes and participation. One of the core principles of our growth has been making more meaningful relationships—and Google+ allows for that.
Jenn Shaw is Founder of NYTechWomen and Bella Minds. Jennifer hales from rural Nebraska, and currently lives in NYC, using her all-American roots as fuel for empowering people to leverage technology and improve the state of STEM education and workforces in the U.S. Follow her on Google+.
3. Act like a Person When Engaging Your Audience
One thing I’ve learned about Google+, is even as a business, that if you post personal images and posts within the network, your business profile is going to grow at a faster rate than if you just posted about your business or gave free advice.
People want to feel like there are connecting with a human, even if you are a business, so by making your posts personal, you will see your account growing at a faster pace.
4. Leverage Your Personal Account to Boost Your Business Page
I confess I am more successfully promoting my personal brand than my business on Google+ (personal branding always comes more naturally on social media as people connect to people), so my tip comes from my personal G+ profile power.
Whenever you share something (share-worthy/important/exciting) on G+ that’s relevant to your business (or is on the same topic), share as a business page FIRST and then RE-share on your personal profile.
Since my personal profile is getting more re-shares than my business page, that trick lets me boost my page (since all the consequent re-shares will have my business page as the original sharer).
This brings in more citations for my business page, more followers and obviously higher brand awareness: ALL re-shares will contain your business name and its hover-over card as well.
5. Create Your Own Approach to Google+
Don’t follow the pack. There is no cookie cutter approach to using Google+ or any other platform. Develop your own strategy and approach by first focusing on your audience needs and business goals. Just like with social media overall, align your efforts to business goals and customer needs where it can have the most positive impact. Do your research and know if and how your ideal client and target market is using Google+.
Also, do not confuse the need to leverage Google+ for SEO/SMO objectives versus building community and nurturing relationships. Although related, these are very different goals and as a result, require different strategies and tactics.
6. Interact with Your Audience More Deeply on Google+
The Google+ platform allows businesses to connect with their customers through several different products including YouTube, Google Hangouts and the Google+ social network. By identifying customers that post about things related to a company’s industry, companies can start conversations with potential customers that might be unaware of their products or offerings.
By creating interactive events such as Google Hangouts on Air, companies can take their interaction a step further, allowing these potential customers to engage with important decision makers within the company. These Q&A or informational sessions can be streamed live on YouTube and can include up to nine additional participants. After the event has concluded, it is available for customers and other viewers to watch on the company’s YouTube page.
In a world where we are surrounded by instant messages, email and social media, simply engaging your current and potential customers through face-to-face communication can create a solid human connection with your brand. These steps will quickly put you ahead of the competition and make you and your business stand out as a leader, attracting more customers and more business.
7. Use Google+ Hangouts to Increase Your Reach
One of the ways I have found surprising and amazing success on Google+ is through using Hangouts and Hangouts on Air broadcasting through YouTube. Here in Seattle we did the first Google+ and Hangouts global concert broadcast at a TEDx event for TEDxRainier 2011, which included the first Hangout, streamed from mainland China. Our program was so well received that it was featured at TED Global the following June 2012.
Our TEDx work set the stage for me to become a member of TEDWomen and also to enter into the Glass Explorers program where I had the privilege of shooting #throughglass the TEDWomen speakers, including Google [x]’s Megan Smith and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, at the TEDWomen event in San Francisco this past December. It’s amazing where one Google+ project can lead!
Jeris JC Miller launched and leads the #SeattleGlassExplorers and #SGEIncubator in Seattle, Washington and is listed in the Top 100 Influencers in Wearable Technology. She is an active member of TEDWomen, Google’s #WomenTechMakers and the #SeattleLeanIn Communities. Follow her on Google+.
8. Share Content From Other Industries on Your Page
One of the more surprising ways a business can find success on Google+ is to share content outside of their industry. If you were an exterminator, maybe you would share a music video each week with a ‘pest’ theme such as Antmusic by Adam & The Ants or Loser by Beck, which contains a lyric about termites.
I’ve picked a ridiculously difficult example as a way to show that any business can do something interesting and unexpected that shows personality and creates a more engaging experience. Using this technique with videos and images (formats that work well on Google+) can help any business stand out and get noticed.
9. Nurture a Community to Earn Relationships on Google+
Focus on building a tribe, a community – one who loves you and your brand as much as you do.If you do this they will spread the word, evangelizing you and your products. Give them great content, attention and nurture the relationships.
By doing all this they will not only give you social engagement, spreading the content/information through sharing, but also signal to Google that your content is important enough to surface in Google Search for other people to discover. This in turn makes you an authority. The power is in the people, the relationships.
10. Establish Google Authorship and Visibility in Local Search
One-way to find success as a business on Google+ is something Google offers when you sign up for a business account: the ability for your business to show up on Google maps and in Google local search visibility. Make sure to fill out your Google+ profile entirely to leverage this feature and provide customers and potential customers with the best information about your business.
As a business owner, if you have published content on the web, you can actually link your Google+ profile to that content using the Google authorship feature. This will increase your visibility in Google searches and ties your profile directly to your content on the web.
What’s the most surprising strategy you’ve come across for finding success on Google+? Did we miss any important Google+ tips worth including?