The first circle, the first friend and the first +1, wandering into Google Plus for the first time, you ask yourself, “okay, now what?” You walk around, sneaking into caves, making your way through the foliage, and slowly but surely you get used to this previously unfamiliar land. And how long does it all take? Fifteen minutes, tops.
Now you need people, so you begin to seek them out: old friends, new friends, business acquaintances, existing customers, people you’ve met on other social networks, people who are strangers to you. Slowly, you will find lots of people turning up. It was all quiet yesterday, and suddenly, you’re in the thick of it. You’re a proper Google Plus resident now.
But seriously, if you’re a marketer or a business owner and you want to know what this story is about, then I need your concentration. I’ll tell you what Google Plus is and why you and your business should be using it as soon as possible.
WHAT IS GOOGLE PLUS?
Google has muscled in on the social networking market and managed to do a good job of it, proving all its detractors wrong.
Google Plus is Google’s social network, launched in June 2011. It combines the openness and simplicity of Twitter with easier options to “add friends” and “share.” You can use Google Plus to share pictures, videos and updates with followers.
In a way it’s similar to Facebook, but it offers better flexibility than Facebook. Just like on Facebook, users are allowed to post content and long status updates on their profile and have this show up in the news-feeds of others.
But unlike on Facebook and similar to Twitter, users can follow anybody they choose to without asking for permission (no friend requests), allowing easier interaction.
GOOGLE PLUS IS ALL ABOUT CIRCLES
Then come ‘circles,’ which are nothing but groups with whom you can share messages, images and videos. This feature cuts through the whole quagmire of privacy intrusions that Facebook takes pride in.
Circles are the most robust and highly customizable when compared to all other social media platforms. As a marketer, there’s no limit to the way you can use circles. You can choose to send updates and insights exclusively to your clients. You can share news with any circle and to their extended circles.
GOOGLE PLUS STATISTICS
This is the part I enjoy writing about. I’ve seen many people say that not many use Google Plus, just because they are not on Google Plus. The fact is, many people do use Google Plus.
It has 400 million users – all in just two years.
Its backed by Google, one of the largest companies in the world.
It also has a recommendations engine that Google is integrating into the search results.
As of January 2013, Google Plus is the second largest social media network in the western world.
HOW CAN GOOGLE PLUS HELP MARKETERS
Internet and network marketers who are constantly looking for opportunities to benefit from SEO, should start using Google Plus to maximize their search engine rankings and benefit from the huge amount of traffic that Google Plus can send their way.
This shows Google the content you’ve authored, both on your website and anywhere else on the Web. Your profile images show in the search results, which is great to showcase your authority on a subject.
Your profile images show in the search results, and this authority builds trust. It also gives a byline that links to the author’s profile and the number of people in the author’s Google circles.
GOOGLE PLUS LOCAL
Google Plus Local was initially called Google Places. These pages are unique and allow customers to easily connect with the physical location of the business. Google Plus local pages are similar to Google Plus pages.
This is the maps listing you find on the right side of the search results, along with the business location, address, phone number etc. This integrates maps and business listings into the platform to help local businesses.
The advantage with local business pages is that visitors can leave reviews on your business. Good reviews = better rankings.
Google StreetView offers a 360 degree interactive panoramas, letting viewers on Google Maps see a location before visiting. This can do wonders for your mobile marketing.
GOOGLE PLUS COMMUNITIES
The new hot spot on Google Plus is Communities. You can gain targeted followers through these niche communities. There is also the rumor that Google may use the topics from the Communities where you’re active and known, to affect your influence on personalized search.
For information on Google Plus Communities check out Google’s communities page by clicking here
SETTING UP YOUR GOOGLE PLUS PRESENCE
To enjoy all the beautiful features offered by Google Plus, as a marketer, you should create an account and a business page on Google Plus.
CREATING A BUSINESS PAGE ON GOOGLE+
Since this is Google’s new baby, creating a Google Plus account makes you look good in the search engines eyes. You will have to create a business page to promote your online business. Link the page to your website.
When you have a certain number of followers on your business page, you can apply for verification by Google. Once verified, you can be confident that Google has watched you and now considers you legitimate.
Your Google Plus business page is where the heart of your business is. The saying, “The first impression is the best impression” holds true in this case. Get as creative as you can with the cover image and profile picture.
This is the Pepsi page that promotes Live For Now marketing campaigns. It posts videos, images of popstars and sometimes a Pepsi can. More than 560,000 people have added Pepsi to their circles.
I would stress that the About Us page needs to stand out. Did you know that mobile users get to read the About Us page first when they click on a name? More importantly, the links on the About Us page are followed by none other than the Big G (Google) herself (or himself)?
#1 JOIN GOOGLE PLUS CIRCLES
Creating your own Google Plus Circles is not good enough; you should also join the highly relevant Circles.
Remember what your mother told you? “You are known by the company you keep.” Google estimates your worth based on the circles you join.
It’s not just relevancy that you should look at, you should look at the sharing factor too. Join only those circles that are highly shared, which is when you are going to benefit from the extended circles.
#2 FOLLOW NICHE-RELATED PEOPLE
It also helps to follow each and every single person who follows your business page. This lets people know that you’re an active marketer, leading to trust.
Google Plus allows individuals to reach out and connect with anybody on the network. You can find leaders in your field and engage in conversations with them. If you’re in their circles, it’ll help not only your image but your search engine rankings too.
#3 GENERATE CONTENT
Google Plus is no different to Facebook or Twitter. It all boils down to the content you share with people.
“Social media is like attending a cocktail party.” I know you’ve seen this analogy everywhere, but it does make sense. You walk in to a cocktail party and engage in conversations; you don’t sell your products at a cocktail party.
That’s how you should view social networking interactions too. People should be sold on an idea, product or service by showing value in the long run. They cannot be sold to directly.
All content must be engaging, educative and entertaining – and highly relevant. It should encourage sharing and interaction.
Here are some more Google Plus marketer tips:
- Exclusive Content. Post content that is only available on your page and nowhere else. Do some research first and take a unique angle.
- Emails. You can send emails to your circle when new content is posted.
- Data: Use “CircleCount” to get all the data related to your competitors.
- Related Hashtags. They help Google understand the content in your posts and make your posts more findable in search.
- Mentions. You are allowed to mention anyone in your posts. They will be sent a notification telling them that you mentioned them. This is a great conversation starter, as long as you don’t overdo it.
- Hangouts. Google Plus Hangouts allow you to video conference with nine people at the same time. For more information on these please read my article Google Plus Hangouts – A Win Win For Everyone
- Hangouts On Air. This allows you to broadcast your video conference all over the Internet. Google Plus also saves the video and adds it to your account. You can use this video even on your website.
- Google Plus Communities. These communities are similar to Facebook groups. Both business pages and individuals can create communities.
- Google Forms. Helps you share forms from Google Drive and have users fill them out. This is almost like a poll. Google Plus collates the results on a spreadsheet for you.
On Google Plus, you can share different content with different circles. For example, you can share network-marketing posts with followers who are interested in starting their own network marketing business, and share affiliate marketing posts with Internet marketers. You can share jokes and silly stories with your friends circle.
Finally, let’s leave you with a couple of great features the SEO world is raving about.
GOOGLE SEARCH PLUS WORLD
This is a Google search filter that allows users to display their search results. Now for the catch – these search results are not what we see now when we search for a keyword.
It filters out all the search results and only brings back search results based on the recommendations and connections of friends and acquaintances in the person’s own social circles.
Google will identify and verify great authors in different niches. This means, it will look for relevant content by authors who are influential in their niche. The higher the AuthorRank, the better the Google rank.
That’s Google Plus For You…
Use Google Plus just as you would any other social site, giving importance to engagement and building a community. It’s up to you as a marketer to take advantage of the immense benefits Google Plus offers. Having a presence on Google Plus is a signal to Google that your business is genuine. So go ahead and generate all the leads you want.
Do you have a Google Plus presence?