Though Google+ may not be a pinnacle for social media marketing, it’s becoming a major component. Google+ has grown drastically larger, more functional, and more popular in the last year – in fact, some comparison studies now rank it as the second-largest social media platform, second only to Facebook.
Whatever the statistics, its great influence on Google search result rankings sets Google+ apart from other platforms. Businesses who stay strategically active on Google+ can reap the benefits of a golden marketing opportunity.
Google+ offers three distinctive features to help businesses get connected.
Google+ hangouts allow up to ten people to see each other during a video chat conversation. Unlike other social media video platforms, Google+ also gives users the option to broadcast their hangouts “On Air” to the general public. That makes every hangout an opportunity to display your company’s skills and expertise, and prove that your products actually work. What’s more, they’re effective ways to boost traffic – not just by engaging prospects and customers, but also by reaching the circles of those contacts – and to provide value to your target audience by showing them how to accomplish a goal or solve a problem. Last but not least, hangouts offer a chance to show your human side, and give visitors a glimpse into what your company is all about.
Here are just a few creative ways to jump into hangouts:
- Customer service – Q&A sessions, surveys, and client feedback
- Education – new product or service demonstrations, tutorials, and workshops
- Information – conferences, lectures, seminars, or training
- Operations – small company meetings, brainstorming sessions, and new product reviews
- Promotions – giveaways, interviews, or even online events
With all this potential, the possibilities are endless! Make the most of the hangout feature to boost your Google+ activity.
Circles are groups of friends or contacts connected by a common topic or theme. Creating groups allows you to organize your followers by controlling who sees your posts – a great way to segment your audience and make sure the content you’re sharing stays interesting and relevant. If you’re a hardware store, for instance, an article on mulching would probably draw a better response from your “gardening and landscaping” circle than it would from the rest of your audience.
Groups can include friends, customers, prospects, thought leaders, or just anyone interesting to your business. If you’re new to Google+, you can find new contacts to add to your circles in several ways:
- Type a specific name into the Search box.
- Add anyone directly from their profile page or from your own Notifications.
- Try the Suggestions option on the home page. These are people Google+ thinks you might know, based on your existing connections and activity.
- Right-click on any of your posts and select the “View Ripples” option to see who else has shared that content – a good way to connect to users with similar mindsets.
To build truly effective connections, you should encourage users in your circles to add you to theirs as well. Remember, however, that many of your circle members have never met you. Be sure your profile creates a sparkling first impression of who you are and what you do. Fill it out completely, keep the language punchy and polished, and use attractive but professional photos.
Communities are groups where users can share thoughts and discussion about a common interest. While Google+ circles focus on building connections, communities center more around engagement and relationships. Though they do offer great networking opportunities for your brand, and great chances to get in front of your target audience, communities are also places to post professional perspectives, answer questions, learn more about your target market, and even get new ideas for blogs and future posts. To get started in Google+ communities, you can:
1) Look for prompts. Google+ will suggest communities your brand can join (and these suggestions are based on interaction, so the more you post and network, the more relevant they’ll be to your business). Remember that you’re joining other communities as your brand, not as a person. Be a useful participant.
2) Establish a new community on your own – a place where users can experience your brand’s unique insights, expertise, perspectives, or even customer services. Be sure to set up a strong moderator, or moderating team, to keep posts on-topic and to control spam.
Google+ lets businesses build productive relationships and foster strong engagement in ways they might not find on other social media sites. Take advantage of it! The more engagement you can foster among your hangouts, circles, and communities, the better your chances of higher search result rankings.