All of us know about the Digital Marketing revolution happening around us. There is no denying the fact that social networks play a huge role in influencing buyers on the Internet. It is a great tool to promote yourself or your business online.
Google+ is a feature rich platform at par with other leading social media websites. However, as it is with Google the visibility and a complete package of services makes it an interesting, under-utilized but a significant player.
Recently Google had announced that it would no longer be required to create a Google+ profile in order to access its other features. This affected many Internet marketers in a negative way rendering the service bit unpopular. Although this is a fact, we must not forget that Google’s services are linked to its search engine result visibility. Therefore creating a Google+ account will give better access to how you can promote and monitor your product or service in the online marketplace. Getting an account is easy and brings along a host of other services from Google, and this has been a reason Internet Marketers and Business Owners have continued to utilize the service.
Sample this, according to a survey done by Social Media Examiner Google+ has a strong international following. In India 80 percent of internet users have a Google+ account, and almost 40 percent are regularly active on it.
Listed below are six ways you can use Google+ to benefit your business:
#1: Set Up A Google+ Business Listing Account:Probably the most important feature of Google+, the Business Listings is a crucial tool for local business owners and service providers. To have your business/service enlisted on Google+ significantly improves search visibility. Other benefit to this service is that, it allows customers to call you, find directions to your business place and also check out your verified website. The customer can see all the information at one place.
It improves customer interaction as well. Your business’ listing allows your business’ photos and YouTube videos to feature on your page, which is easily accessible by customers. Customers can also leave comments or reviews for your services right on your business page. This will enable you to get feedback and work on them quickly.
Due to the new guidelines that Google has announced for Google+, it may not hold the same benefits that it once did. However, for as long as Google does not completely eradicate Google+ business listing, utilizing the service can only help your business. Google still uses all the information entered by you while enlisting your service as a Business Listing, which greatly improves visibility and features your verified website in local search results.
Given below, is an example of a local business in Mumbai. As you can see in the Illustration, its website has been verified and it has been enlisted on Google+ Business Listing and it ranks #1 in local search for the business name. It also shows all the business’ information, including its location on Google Maps and customer reviews. Imagine all at one place for just one click.
This goes to show that Business Listings has a great role from a local SEO point of view as well. This is crucial because, as local mobile search grows, to have your business listing ranked on the top creates visibility and the greater chance of customers approaching your business.
If your business is a restaurant, café, retail store or a general business, your Google+ Business Listing will gain you visibility. At least for as long as the service exists!
#2: Create And Add People To Your Circles:Google+ Circles offers an effective way to selectively segregate your contacts and share content and updates with them. Your contacts can be branched down as - friends, customers, business partners, affiliates or influencers you follow
It is a handy tool that can send an email with updates to a large number of people. This can be a tedious task using Gmail as the mailer comes with a few restrictions of its own, one being the number of recipients you can choose for your updates.
Here is an example of what Google Plus Circles looks like. Do notice how different people are segregated into different groups. This allows you to classify your updates and notifications to your audience based on their interest.
Image source: google/google plus circles images
#3: Create And Join Communities:Just like we have our own communities of people we meet and talk to, Google+ Communities offers the users a similar experience virtually. Google+ Communities is a solution for people who would like to meet other people sharing the same interests, ideas, passion or cause.
As quoted by Google spokesperson, Guy Kawasaki, “Communities have transformed Google+ into a more deeply connected environment; people’s favorite communities have become a starting point for their Google+ activity each day. Whether you are representing your brand with a passion, Google+ Communities are a great way to connect with like-minded people.
Also it is a great way to network with people who like your business or share ideas on your cause. It may also be something related to hobbies, interests or even a fan following. Photography communities are wildly popular and are a great way for professionals and beginners to network with other photographers or just learn a lot.
Fan followings for movies and sports also tend to engage more users. It’s no surprise that Manchester United has a vast number of users following their community.
The Star Wars community has one of the largest followings worldwide.
You could create communities for family, college alumni or even office colleagues. Do you have spare time and think you might be interested in a skill? There are communities for that too!
It is advisable that you do not replicate your LinkedIn or Facebook community on Google+. Make sure your Google+ community is unique so as to add value to its members. A great way to achieve that is by organizing a Hangout on Air exclusively for your community members. (Hangout On Air has now been transferred to Youtube Live)
#4: Create And Categorize Content Through Collections:Collections offer a hassle free way to organize your posts in chosen topics. What this means is that, all the content that you share on Google+ can be categorized under a collection relevant to the topic. With using social media scheduling tool like SocialPilot you can easily schedule your post in advance on multiple Google+ collections at once and that saves your lots of time and efforts.
In fact, it is rightly so. Surveys show that business owners have seen drastic change in flow of traffic to their pages or websites once their collections had been featured. If you have a business page, this might be the first step you need to take in terms of creating your presence on the online platform.
Collections offer you the freedom to share what you want. Business people could share photos of their products or services while an NGO could showcase their campaigns. Something simpler could be a collection of books that you’re reading. In this case, it is your imagination that limits you. The audience needs to connect to the topic of your collection and your work.
To get your collections noticed in the Featured Collections, you need to keep in mind that your content needs to be useful and interesting. The following collection by Siddhartha Joshi has been featured on the Featured Collections list. His collection named ‘World Without Borders’ is about his travels in India and abroad and his message to the world is that travel unites everyone. The content is informative and it has a great collection of photographs as well. The collection has already garnered approximately 1,48,000 followers.
As a blogger, using Google+ Collections is a sensible way of getting your work recognized. Create a collection specific to the type of content you want to share and categorize your posts accordingly. A prime example would be of evangelist and inspiring spokesperson, Guy Kawasaki, whose followers are up to 7,093,879 users.
Sabah’s collection of memes and gifs on the ‘Game Of Thrones’ series is wildly popular with as many as 87,466 followers.
If you glance through the best performing collections, you will notice that most of them are heavy content uploaders and not always are they only self-serving. Promote and share a lot of third party content on your Collections. Even if your content doesn’t get featured, potential marketers or business pages will notice it through a third party account they might be following.
Google predicts that Collections could be the next internet content management rage, and it really does seem it will. With smart phones and tablets being so popular today, Collections offers a clear-cut method for you to browse through content you want to see. Your feed looks less cluttered and your collections become easily accessible.
#5: Create A Hangout:Hangouts by far have been Google+’s most popular online tool since its inception. It was well received by business professionals, politicians, creative professionals, marketers, youth and perhaps everyone caught up to it. It provides great functionality and connects to the audience in a more intimate way.
Today, Hangouts are much more than chat box messengers. They are being used as tools to create and promote events. It could be a webinar, a product launch, a political Q&A or even a conversation on a topic of interest.
Business professionals use it for video conferencing. Families use it to connect to loved one across the world. What Hangouts does is it reaches out and connects to people/audience and engages them on social media.
Hangouts and Hangouts on Air could not have come in the market at a more beneficial time. It is no surprise that they are the most popular services of Google. In an age where video and audio interface and communication is all the rage, Hangouts is bound to see a rise. This benefits business professionals and event managers as well.
#6: Network With Influencers:One of the many perks of Google+ is that it allows you to discover, connect and build relationships on a more personal level. Big time industrial influencers are handy assets to have in association if you plan to take your business anywhere. You can find and add influencers to your circles through Communities. Like, follow and share their posts to get noticed by these influencers. Feature their posts in your collections.
Although Google+ never became quite as popular as Facebook or any other social media tools, and neither will it in the near future, it still is a valuable tool for digital marketers and business influencers to attract an audience. It delivers a solid punch and what’s more, you don’t have to pay to market your products or business here. These six tips can be used as a handy guide to reaping the best out of Google+.