The next social media site in focus here at Shore Branding is Google+ and how to best leverage the site to drive your brand/business forward on the platform.
In June of 2011, Google launched G+ via invitation only / beta testing and I was immediately yearning for said invitation. After receiving an invite and setting up a personal account, I quickly realized how powerful the site/network could be. Just over two years later, and Google+ has grown to become the second largest social media site in the world, behind only Facebook.
While many are/were hesitant to join G+, there is plenty of evidence to the benefits it can or does provide. Here are eight tips when leveraging Google+ for your brand:
#1 – The power of G+ Communities
Google+ has, by far in my opinion, the greatest network of experts, opinions, and overall knowledge to leverage across virtually any topic you can think of in their Communities. G+ Communities is far superior to Facebook’s and/or LinkedIn’s Groups.
Information in G+ Communities has provided me with a number of answers to questions or concerns I have had with Google Analytics, WordPress, and miscellaneous technical questions. It is also a great place to read new and engaging content and a great place to share your own thoughts as well. Here is a snapshot of the majority of the Communities we’ve joined since setting up the Shore Branding Google+ page earlier this year:
#2 – Choose your Circles wisely
A second powerful feature from Google+ that was heavily promoted at launch was the ability to “circle” pages, friends, etc. and put them into various buckets. This allows you to share information or posts among a filtered or select group of people. Similar to Twitter’s lists and elsewhere, you can also comb down your newsfeed to a particular Circle, seeing only status updates and news from those that you have put within any given circle.
You may also share Circles in order to provide others with people/pages that may be of interest to them. This may also help you forge relationships and/or strategic alliances with others in the long run. Take a look at the picture below for how easily it is to do this. Here, I am on Shore Branding’s Circles page. I have clicked on our ‘Branding’ Circle to bring up the names and pages I have dropped into Circle. Clicking on the middle icon – where the green arrow is pointing to – you can easily share the Circle publicly or within your Circles (see second image below).
#3 – Seamless integration across Google’s products … and search!
Since launch, Google has made continuous updates and improvements to embed G+ into its other products. It is virtually seamless to integrate what you may be doing on YouTube, Picasa (pictures), and Blogger with Google+.
Beyond these sister sites under the Google umbrella, there is a clear reason for considering G+ as part of your digital marketing portfolio: the search engine optimization (SEO) benefits the site provides. You may not believe this, but people go to Google every day to search for items of interest. It’s true.
Using hashtags in your posts/comments will help target messaging and search. Fully completing your G+ profile page and posting relevant content will help you increase your traffic and the likelihood of others finding your business when searching for items/ideas in your field.
#4 – Let’s Hangout
A second major marketing push at launch was the Hangout, a free video chat program that was integrated with Google+ from day one. Google has continued to tinker with the Hangout over time, but one of the most beneficial pieces of this builds off of #3 above – the integration with YouTube. If you have a YouTube page for your business or brand, you can very easily set up, record, and promote your video conferences / conversations that you conduct. While taping an “On Air” Hangout, others will be able to join through G+ or YouTube.
This Google doc provides you with a number of “how to” steps, including how to integrate your Hangout with/through YouTube.
Beyond recorded content, the Google+ Hangout provides you with a slightly different opportunity for face-to-face (F2F) conversation. F2F time is extremely important and if it is a logistical nightmare for you to meet with a client/customer, or an emergency pops up, a Hangout is more personal than an email or phone call. While this isn’t the norm by any stretch, video conferencing could be at a tipping point for much broader support in the very near future.
#5 – Follow the changes and updates to G+
In the two years since launch, Google+ has deployed numerous changes and updates. It is important to (try to) stay up to date with the latest and greatest features, specs, etc. on the site. Whether it is needing to make updates to your profile (they changed the specs for profile and header pictures last year) or what some of the new tools and upgrades are, it is important to try to stay on top of all of the news.
#6 – Don’t have or want a blog, let G+ be the “voice” for you
If you don’t want to maintain a blog but want to share your thoughts and ideas with others, I can’t think of a better network than Google+. With the cross-industry expertise throughout, there isn’t a better place to start. G+ has less stringent limitations in space and characters vs. Facebook, and obviously Twitter. Again, you also get the added search benefits by leveraging G+ as well – see how it continues to go back to this benefit across many of these recommendations and how it all ties together?
#7 – What the heck are Ripples?
Google+ has a feature called Ripples that allows you to better understand how or where your posts are being shared and seen across the network. This is a very nice, succinct piece of information that can be combined with other analytics tools to help you better understand who is getting your message and how.
I came across this write-up from Mike Allton at TheSocialMediaHat.com that provides a tremendous amount of depth and breadth regarding Ripples. I highly suggest reading Mike’s piece if you are interested in this type of analytical information for your brand’s page.
#8 – Engage with others
You didn’t think we would get through a “Tips” write-up without telling you to engage with others on the platform, did you? This remains the key to everything. Please do not sign up for G+ just to have a page sit there with no content or interaction at all. Do something with it! Here are a few examples of what this could represent on Google+:
- Spend at least 30 minutes a week in Google+ Communities; +1 material that you find engaging, add your own comments to others’ work.
- Thank those that share and +1 your own G+ posts.
- Respond to feedback (both positive and negative) in a timely manner.
- Beyond sharing your own content “publicly”, re-share that information with the appropriate Circles.
- Share other people’s work as well – this helps build trust with other readers and may help you become a better advisor in their eyes.
Those are our eight tips for leveraging Google+ for your brand. Have any of these G+ features been of particular benefit for your brand/company? Do you have other tips to recommend to readers?
Please feel free to drop them in the comments below or send us a message on the Shore Branding G+ page.