When businesses first came to Google+, they did it for the SEO play, plain and simple. They felt that if they could get more of their brand presence indexed in the social network of the world’s largest search engine, it would help boost their rankings overall.
That hasn’t worked out as expected, nor is Google+ consistently cited as a major traffic source compared to other social networks, but it doesn’t mean brands should give up on Google+.
I had the privilege of contributing a chapter to Mitch Meyerson’s book, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars (Entrepreneur Press), and in it I focused on the feature set that Google offers us through its social layer, and how it can be used by brands small and large.
Pick up a copy of the book to get those thoughts, but below I’m going to expand on some of the key points that I made in the chapter because, honestly, if you haven’t incorporated Google+ into your marketing mix, you’re missing out.
Teaching Google about your business
Google+ is the glue that intends to bring the human side of doing business to the online world. – Stephan Hovnanian
I said that the SEO play hasn’t been as effective as everyone hoped, but that doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. Currently, brand page Google+ content can surface in personalized search, meaning the more connected you are to your audience’s Google accounts, the more visible you can be in their search results (this makes perfect sense, of course, because the more connected you are, the more relevant you are). A properly-connected brand page, especially a local one, offers you extended visibility across Google’s ecosystem from Gmail to YouTube to the Play Store to Maps, and of course, Search.
Want proof? A tour operator in Amsterdam wrote a detailed breakdown of his success after a year in our Google Plus for Small Business community. One of the big takeaways? His bookings from Gmail accounts have gone up by 650%!
Like Twitter, business pages on Google+ function just like personal profiles. It’s also an open, asymmetrical platform like Twitter (we don’t have to follow each other to interact with one another). But unlike Twitter, conversations on Google+ can be much richer in nature because the platform lends itself to formatting, long-form posts, and more intimate discussions in interest-based communities. Brands who are able to take advantage of this are poised to benefit greatly from the platform’s relationship building features.
Content Marketing Toolbox
The content marketing aspects of Google+ are arguably the best part of the platform, especially for businesses. All your content is indexed. If you’re a visual company by nature, photos and videos shared by your Google+ page get beautiful, generous treatment in the news streams. You can share in several places in several formats, and mix up your sharing style so you don’t appear like you’re phoning it in with automation.
Social listening is easy, between hashtag monitoring and searching within Google+ for conversations around your brand or topic (remember, in the end, Google+ is powered by one of the best search engines in the world).
If you incorporate Hangouts on Air (live streaming webcasts that save to your YouTube channel when you’re finished) into your content mix, you have a whole new suite of ways to engage with an audience and share content in a very real way, versus pre-recorded podcasts and webinars.
Who is Google+ best suited for?
The common critique about the audience on Google+ is that they’re marketing and tech-heavy. That is until you seek out Laurie Laizure‘s 38,000+ member Interior Design Community, or Christina Blount Presnell‘s The Knitting Lodge community of nearly 10,000 (and she has over 647,000 followers by the way, did I mention she knits?). I could go on but can we agree that it isn’t all tech and marketers? Great, keep reading.
Google+ for Consultants, Coaches, Authors, and Solopreneurs
If you’re a consultant, coach, author, or solopreneur, your best use of Google+ is networking, collaborating, and learning. You’ll be able to build great relationships and a tribe heavily vested in your success, while at the same time being able to connect with some very smart people (and their own networks) in an open format.
Key features for you: Hangouts on Air, Communities, Circles
Who does it right: David Amerland, Mark Traphagen, Denise Wakeman, Lany Sullivan, Ronnie Bincer, and so many others. And I’d like to think I fall into this category as well; after all, I’ve written four ebooks about Google+, and the chapter I mentioned above.
Google+ for Local Businesses
If you’re a local business, just scroll back up to the part where I said the Amsterdam tour operator grew his bookings from Gmail accounts by 650% because of his activity on Google+. You may not be able to “target” thousands and thousands of people in your locale, it’s hard to get that granular on Google+, but it doesn’t matter. Your Google+ page is a powerful connective tissue when it comes to local visibility in search. Connecting your website to your Google My Business listing (formerly Maps, or Google Local) gives you a Google+ page and a YouTube channel, along with the Maps listing. Use all of them together to crank out relevant content to your locale and area of expertise. Plus, you can seek out reviews.
Key features for you: Communities, Google+ search, Hangouts on Air (to record content for your YouTube channel)
Google+ for SMB (small to medium sized business)
If you’re a small to medium sized business (non-local), you can use Google+ to build awareness of your brand using these content marketing tools. You probably have a marketing department that is creating content for your business to share online, and Google+ is a great place to do that, as well as cultivate relationships with industry experts and brand advocates. Engagement on Google+ by brand pages is few and far between, so setting aside time to connect with your audience will pay dividends. Just ask MarketingProfs about adopting Google+ and paying attention to their audience.
Key features for you: Circles, Google+ search, Hangouts on Air (to record content for your YouTube channel and repurpose into blog content)
Google+ for the Enterprise Brand
If you’re an enterprise or large brand, don’t expect tons of referral traffic from Google+ (it can happen, of course, but don’t make that your #1 reason for getting active). Engagement rules on Google+, and it’s a big shift for how most large brands operate on social media. Look for your existing audience and cultivate relationships with them. Use Google+ to find content from others that you can curate and share to other social networks as part of your social media plan. Conduct a web series using Hangouts on Air to show your audience more about what’s behind your brand, nothing says “authentic” like a raw, unscripted hangout. Plus, as I said above, the resulting blog content is fantastic.
Key features for you: Social network analysis tools like NOD3X, Google+ search, Circles, Hangouts on Air. Maybe Communities, if not to lead, to support fan-based ones and direct people to your official support channels.
So there you have it: all the reasons you need to decide how Google+ fits into your marketing mix. If you see the value but need help creating a Google+ strategy for your business, give me a call at 781-538-5901 to get started!
Resources cited above:
- Is your business ready for Google’s Semantic Search?
- Google Author Authority in Search Gets Personal (Mark Traphagen, Stone Temple Consulting)
- Is your brand listed on Google Plus? It should be! (Stephan Hovnanian for The Social Media Hat)
- Search Tips within Google Plus
- Build Massive Brand Equity as a Hangouts on Air Producer
- Supercharge your personal brand: be a guest on Google+ Hangouts On-Air
- New ebook series for maximizing Google+ strategy
- Local Search and its importance for Local Business (David Kutcher, Confluent Forms, LLC)
- Local Search Personalization, and Small Business Influence (David Kutcher, Confluent Forms, LLC)
- 8 Ways to Wow Your Brand Evangelists (Stephan Hovnanian for The Social Media Hat)
- Adopting Google+ Is Easier Than You Think – and Worth It! (Stephan Hovnanian for MarketingProfs)
- Proof that Social Media Matters (Stephan Hovnanian on LinkedIn)
- Added 5/5/15 – How to Improve Your Google+ Marketing (Ben Fisher on Social Media Examiner)
Below is a playlist of nine of the people and brands mentioned above who have been interviewed during my Google+ Business Spotlight web series from 2014. Get to know the people behind the pages, and see for yourself the power of personal connection you get from using Google Hangouts on Air.