What’s the marketing takeaway for us as marketers?
Truth is, I haven’t a clue.
But I know there’s plenty to be excited about.
For example the Circles feature could replace traditional list-building, and the Hangouts video conference feature will surely revolutionize the webinar scene forever.
And then there’s the social sharing buttons potential.
Best Practices for Marketers on Google+
While this may sound obvious, many businesses still overlook the value of social sharing buttons and don’t use them effectively. Social sharing buttons serve two important purposes. First, they make it super easy and quick for a visitor to share your content on social media sites.
Plus, social sharing buttons act as a call to action on your blog that helps remind visitors that their online connections might be interested in the content as well.
I mentioned this before, but its value cannot be emphasized enough, so here it is again.
When one of my contacts +1’s one of your site’s pages, I see their endorsement in my search results when I search for products or services like yours. That provides a huge boost in terms of both credibility AND visibility — +1’d pages leap right out of the search results at you with a trusted face attached.
If you aren’t yet using the Google +1 button on your website, it’s definitely time to start.
For List Builders
The potential of Google+ for list builders and online marketers is massive. In effect it offers us the chance to bypass the endless emails, validation and subscription issues and communicate directly with mailing lists, simply by offering them incentives to follow us on Google+.
Just think about that for a minute.
No opt-in pages, no complicated set-ups or wasted effort creating complicated campaigns, just direct contact with your contacts and ‘followers’.
Seminars, Web Conferences and Broadcast
With Google+ you can hold video meetings, seminars and conferences with your followers, without the need for third party software or websites.
How to Optimize Your Business Presence on Google+
Google+ is similar to other social networks when it comes to marketing, but it does have its own strengths and weaknesses. To get the most from your Google+ Business Page in terms or traffic and leads for your business, follow these best practices:
1. Share Lots of Photos
Photos are very important on Google+. A quick look at a Google+ feed will tell you that lots of individual images are shared by users. This is slightly different from Facebook, where users might upload an entire album of images at one time. Think about your business and marketing visually. Which images, charts, or slides can you share on Google+ to ignite conversations and increase the viral spread of your content? Google+ is built for sharing
2. Recommend Links
Under the ‘About’ tab of your Google+ Page, you have the option to add recommended links in the right side bar. Don’t let this space go to waste. Instead, add links to important blog articles and lead generation offers to drive more traffic and leads for your business.
3. Promote Your Google+ Page on Your Blog and Website
To get real business value from Google+, you have to have a community of people there to consume and engage with your content. In order to get people to add your Google+ Page to their Circles, you need to promote the page in places where you are already attracting visitors, such as your homepage, blog side bar, or other social media accounts. Cross-promotion is key to building a strong Google+ community.
4. Encourage People to Share Your Posts
Sharing on Google+ is a catalyst for increasing the virality of your content. When you post a message, photo, or link on Google+, be sure to ask your subscribers to share your content with the people in their Circles.
This is similar to asking people to “please retweet” on Twitter.
5. Analyze Traffic and Leads From Google+
So is this Google+ thing actually working for your business? To determine this, you’ll need to look at the traffic and leads that have been driven from Google+. You can do this by looking at referral traffic from plus.Google.com to your website.
6. Use Google+ Circles to Communicate
You must be thinking, “Why do we need yet ANOTHER social network?” Frankly, that is a reasonable question to ask. As you’ve read through this ebook, you have learned some of the reasons Google wants the platform to be successful: search.
What about users? Why would someone want to use Google+ as an individual user?
Hangouts and the ability to collaborate easily with others is cool, but arguably the biggest selling point of Google+ is Circles. Unlike other social networks, Google+ was built with the unique idea that different groups of people prefer different content.
Think about it this way. The same messages you share with your family might not be the same messages you want to share with your boss at work.
The Muppets have used Hangouts to raise awareness of their new film, scheduled for release at Christmas.
Using ‘Hangouts’ to conduct video chats with people is a great way to raise brand awareness and build a positive brand reputation across the web. A company could, for example, host a ‘Hangout’ with their customers where they get to ask questions about products, services and competitions.
A company in a technical niche might choose to hold a weekly ‘Hangout’ where their followers can ask detailed questions and be confident they are getting an answer from an expert.
Companies could even us their ‘Hangouts’ to get suggestions from their followers about how they could perhaps improve their services.
The point is that ‘Hangouts’ offer an unparalleled opportunity for brands and businesses to interact in real-time, face-to-face with the people that follow them. This really could be a fantastic opportunity for companies to really strengthen their brand reputation.
3 Ideas for Hangouts
1. Q+A sessions with customers – allowing them to pose questions to a human face enhances consumer trust in a brand as they know they aren’t receiving an automated reply.
Competitions – set up a competition in which you pose a question during a hangout and you could drive a huge amount of traffic onto your page at once.
2. Employee meetings – one default business page circle is ‘team members’, by ensuring all your team members are part of this circle you can use hangouts for cross-department meetings and as an alternative to finding a meeting place.
3. Client meetings – Many businesses already use hangouts to connect with clients and hold face-to-face meetings without being in the same room. By setting these up through a company profile instead of a personal profile the process becomes more professional.
Pimping Out Your Pages
So far the art of pimping your Google+ Pages is still right in its infancy and there’s not much available.
But just like Twitter and Facebook, moving forward, pages that look good and include additional graphics or links will stand out from the crowd and have more impact.
A couple of the options avalaible right now allow you to create a banner (like mine in the picture above) and customize the like ‘buttons’ you post around your web properties.
There are already a few sites which offer this free, and they’re well worth a look.
Keep an eye on these, as other G+ service providers are sure to advertise new products as they appear.