Just when you finally thought you had grasped the value and function of Facebook and perhaps some other social media platforms for your business (i.e. LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter), as well as the benefits and results they provide (or don’t provide), along comes Google+, a social media network with the word “Google” in it – drawing snickers, smiles, sighs and all sorts of other immediate reactions. “Should I care?” “Why is it important?” “And, do I really have the time to invest in any more social media marketing?” (Also, how creepy is it that I’ve just read your mind and the callout bubble over your head?)
What is Google+?
Unlike other conventional social networks which are generally accessed through a single website, Google has described Google+ as a “social layer,” consisting of not just a single site, but rather an overarching “layer” which covers many of its online properties. Launched in June 28, 2011, Google+ has quickly grown to 400 million registered users of whom 100 million are active on a monthly basis(as of September 12, 2012). Although that’s shy of 50% of Facebook’s total registered users it’s pretty impressive, to say the least. Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles, and introduces new services identified as Circles, Hangouts and Sparks (more on these services to come in subsequent topics). Google+ is available as a website and on mobile devices. It is considered the company’s fourth foray into social networking, following Google Buzz (launched 2010, retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (launched 2008, retired by March 1, 2012) and Orkut (launched in 2004, now operated entirely by subsidiary Google Brazil). (from Wikipedia) Unlike these other attempts, Google+ is set to succeed, big time for founding company Google and the businesses that take advantage of it.
Should you pay attention or simply wait to see if it sticks?
Well, if your business is dependent on SEO as a source of traffic and leads, the answer is a resounding ‘You should pay immediate attention to this.’ Even though it has less users than LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter at this time, Google+ is relatively new, growing rapidly and set to explode. More importantly, the benefits and services it affords businesses who take advantage of it, abound. According to the Google+ website, these include:
- Spreading the Word
- Recommending and Sharing
- Enhancing your ads
Essentially, it provides “Getting found when customers are looking” – the main reason for most social media sites for business. In my opinion, the BIG draw is that Google+ has tremendous potential impact on search results brought about by Google, the number one search engine with over 3 billion searches per day. For example, their recent Search, plus Your World update means that your search results are now being heavily influenced by Google+. According to Brad Smith in “How to Start Using Google+ for Your Business Before It’s Too Late,” he reports “Google is integrating it’s new social network into your search results like we’ve never seen before. They’re adding a social layer on top of your search results, so what you see is heavily influenced by what your social graph recommends. That means every single person’s search results are personalized. (So much for tracking your keyword rankings).” A Google coincidence? I think not. My guess is they really don’t want this social media network to fail like the others, and will make it as beneficial and a no-brainer decision for business owners as possible, and for everyone to use. For those who are not convinced yet, prepare to get left behind. (Yes, it’s that serious!)
How to Get Started with Google+
Getting started on Google+ for your business is easy and will only take a few minutes (really). First, you’ll need a personal Google account and Google+ page. If you don’t have a Google account, it’s very quick and easy to join. Simply go here: http://bit.ly/TvVovP . To setup a page, visit this site: http://bit.ly/V9KVYT
A Quick Introduction
Following are some key first steps and benefits for Google+ to get you up and running from the Google+ Starter site. Over the next several weeks we’ll be doing a deeper dive into Google+ functions and special areas to get the most out of it, quickly and easily. For this lesson, however, the intent is to get on board and understand it’s power and value. (For more info: http://www.google.com/+/business/get-found.html).
1. Have real conversations with the right people
On your Google+ page (that you have created – see instructions above), you can post updates and news about your business, engage in conversations with your customers, send tailored messages to specific groups of people, and see how many +1’s you have across the web. Google+ Pages are at the heart of Google+ for Business. Think of your Google+ page as your brand hub. Your page, along with your profile image and recent posts, is eligible to show on the right-hand side of our results when relevant to a customer’s search. Relevant posts can also show up within search results for your page’s followers.
It’s important to your business because when people search for your brand on Google, they can get the latest info straight from your Google+ page, on the righthand side of their search results. In other words, the content you’ve shared on your Google+ page impacts the search, in this case, more directly, leading to higher rankings and better search results. Pretty cool.
2. Let Your Fans Speak for You
This is really cool especially for power-business-networkers. There are a lot of ways for colleagues, fans, customers, etc. to recommend your company and have that impact overall search results, using Google+. And, people trust recommendations from people they know. By adding the +1 button to your site, it makes it easy for visitors to show their support and share what they like about your content. Drive greater engagement with your company and your content by letting people see recommendations from friends and colleagues. You can also extend that reach even further by enabling AdWords social extensions with a simple snippet of code.
3. Promote Your Google+ Page on Your Site
Want to convert your website traffic to followers and increase brand engagement across Google? Add the free Google+ badge to your site so visitors can +1 or share your content, and follow your Google+ page right from your site.
One of the easiest ways to promote your page is to add the badge to your site so visitors can engage with you on your Google+ page. How well does it work? Top publishers have seen an average follower increase of 38 percent after adding the Google+ badge to their sites.
You can add the Google+ badge to any of your pages simply by adding a short snippet of code to the page’s HTML. Visit the Google+ badge configuration tool to customize your badge size and generate the code snippet to add to your page.
Certainly, anything new is likely to bring about frustration, doubt and excuses. In the case of Google+, however, there’s great opportunity and potential return for minimal time investment. It’s easy, it’s powerful and it can really impact your business. Get started today!
More to come on this topic, soon…
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.