Launched in June 2011 by search engine giant Google Inc., Google+ is a social networking service with 300 million+ in-stream active users. It integrates numerous Google services, including Google Profiles. Most notably the social network, also referred to simply as G+, allows users to group their contacts into Circles, enabling members to sort their contacts into specific categories. This in turn allows users to tailor posts and send them to specific social groups.
Google+ Quick Facts
- 22% of online adults use Google+
- 42% use the social network to interact with brands’ content
- 70% of top brands use Google+
- Google+ refers the most traffic per visit: 2.45 pages
- Google+ generates nearly as much engagement per follower as the social media giant Facebook
- Google+ generates twice as much engagement as Twitter
Clearly Google+ is the next big thing.
Marketing on Google+
1. Perfect your Profile
Getting on Google+ is like setting up your home in a new, exciting metropolis. To get yourself known, you will need to go out and meet the neighbors. Google+ was launched in June 2011 so your neighbors have been having a street party for quite some time now.
– Set up your profile with a clear photo of your face and a creative or exciting image as the cover photo to visually represent your brand. In case of a business, you can also showcase your brand personality with a company logo.
– Link your Google+ page to your site. The use of Google+ badges is subject to the Google+ Platform Buttons Policy. Because Google+ pages, profiles and communities are different, Google offers slightly different versions of the badges, which you can read about here.
– To find people to whom you relate, use hashtags to search people with similar interests. You can then add these people into your circles.
2. Create and Manage Circles
Circles make it easy to share the right things with the right people. To start out with, Google+ gives you a few circles but you can also create new circles for even more flexibility. On Google+, you can shout, speak or whisper. You can share as broadly or narrowly as you want. If you have something to say that the world needs to hear, choose “Public.” To keep your message to a specific group, choose one of your circles.
3. Get Involved and Be Active
No matter what you’re into, there are people on Google+ who share your interests. Search for public communities around the topics you’re passionate. This is a great way to meet new people and join conversations.
There are lots of ways to share with your communities. Post beautiful photos and videos, plan events, or even have face-to-face discussions using Hangouts.
– Only share your own stuff
– Just post links and photos without describing them
– Share the same post multiple times
You can also create real-world groups of people like your basketball buddies and fellow classmates. It’s simple: If you find yourself sharing regularly among the same group of people, communities are a fast and fun way to stay in touch more easily.
Content Marketing on Google+
Right now there is an opportunity for everyone to build his or her global network using Google+. Google+ can amplify your business messages i.e. your content and create:
– Engagement on posts themselves
– Social traffic to your website
– And Traffic to your website that comes from Google Search.
This not only increases your business reach and impact, it creates business.
The Evolution of Publicity
If someone attempted to define publicity, it would go something like this: Publicity is the deliberate attempt to drive the public perception of a subject in a specific direction, attracting media attention and increasing the reach and impact of a business.
Before Social Media, Publicity took Several Forms:
– Event sponsorship
– Press conferences
– Polls and surveys
– Invent an award and subsequently give it away
– Ribbon cutting
Admittedly, these remain very successful forms of publicity generation but from a digital marketing perspective, today marketers have many more interactive publicity opportunities that arise in the social media news streams. These include the social media PR venues like Twitter Chats and Google+ Hangouts.
Twitter chats are real-time, interactive conversations happening on Twitter at any point in time. They revolve around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows people to follow the discussion and participate in it. Like any traditional talk show or morning show, the conversation has a host, a guest and an audience of attendees.
The Publicity Benefits of Twitter Chats are Multiple.
– Large-scale exposure of your brand to a focused audience
– You build meaningful rapports with influencers of your industry
– Media attention
– Real-time feedback from the media and influencers
– You might just be extended an invite to speak or write for a media outlet
The key to gaining influence via Twitter chats is to find the right chats. To that end, look for Twitter chats in the right places.
– Pay attention to chats mentioned by people you follow
– Important chats are often quoted in media publications
– Follow chats curated by others
– You can organize a Twitter chat yourself using Twubs and TweetChat
Hosting a Twitter chat is a networking and promotional tool of considerable power. You promote your social media presence, you get instant feedback and you create a community around your business.
To Host a Twitter Chat:
1. Understand how it works: Participate in a few Twitter chats before.
2. You need a plan: The hashtag is what pulls the whole thing together. Also arrange the day and time.
3. Announce and promote your chat: Use all available media. People will promote an event if you give them rich media.
4. Run the chat: Start with a welcome introduction, announce your chat topic, tweet your own thoughts and ideas, ask questions and so on and so forth.
5. Summarize, archive and analyze: Create transcripts of your tweets. Archive your chat.
In 2013, social media has revolutionized how companies market their products and services over the web. The traditional methods of reaching out to potential customers have, in many ways, been replaced or partially replaced to give way to marketing on the social sites including Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
With these changes happening very fast and social signals becoming increasingly important in how Google and the other search engines rank websites, businesses are under pressure to adapt to the new challenges, familiarizing with new tools, understanding online visibility and engagement and rethinking techniques to drive sales.
This might seem like a lot of work but in reality, while the technology and way of doing things have changed, the basic principles of customer service and marketing are pretty much the same.
Some Habits of Successful Businesses Using Social Media to Drive Sales
1. Bring Your Sales and Social Media People Together
For social media marketing success, there should be an overlap between your social media and sales people. The two jobs are interconnected and the efforts of one team augment the efforts of the other.
If you want your business to do well on the social sites, you need to find innovative and creative ways to bring your social media and sales people together.
2. Stay True to Your Professional Profile
On the social sites including Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you should have a professional face and subsequently stay true to that profile. If you have a personal and a business account on any of the social sites, for example, Facebook, keep the two separate. This is one of those times when you need to keep your personal life away from your professional life.
Note that even if you keep your personal and business social media accounts separate, it is advisable that you maintain a certain level of professional conduct even on your personal accounts. These accounts are still accessible to people and therefore exposed to the public eye and scrutiny.
3. Always Strive to Build Connections
Being a member of a social community is only part of social media marketing; the other part is actually participating in the community. To that end, if you are on the social sites to increase your business reach and impact, keep connecting with new people and expand your reach: Always be on the lookout for new people to draw in.
The key thing to remember at this point though is that you are on the social sites to drive your business sales. The point of joining Twitter is not to draw in thousands of followers but to draw in thousands of customers. The challenge is to reach out to people who could potentially convert into buyers. Target a receptive audience: you don’t want people following and liking you who have no interest in what you have to say.
When the search giant released its social product, there was some initial buzz around it, but it was soon followed by condescending comments like “oh, a copycat” or “yeah, as if we needed another social network” from people in the blogosphere. To be honest, some of us did not take it very seriously either.
Well, things are getting serious now. 90 million users. That’s over 90 million times more users than a lot of the copycats succeeded having!
Plus, there is the added incentive of being part of the search giant’s social network, and knowing that it now gives serious attention to social signals, the incentive is kind of a big one indeed!
The short answer to the question: “Is it worth it?” or “Do we need it?” seems to be “Yes” for now.
Why Businesses Need Google+
The biggest reason would be Google’s social move called ‘Search Plus Your World’. According to their blog, Google thinks that their current search results are quite “limiting”, due to the fact that they only pull up webpages made available publicly. What they want is that information is made available to you from literally everywhere; starting from what your friends are sharing – posts, photos, videos etc. They want to integrate social into search.
This means that in the near future, when people are looking for information about coffee for example, they might be able to see who of their friends are having their lunch break at your coffee shop. Or maybe they want to buy a game on Amazon (via a Google search) but then stumble upon a post made by a colleague who got a nice discount at your game store.
Yes, this is why businesses need Google+! The network is still relatively new (we are talking about Internet age), and the earlier you get in, the earlier you can start building your network (and trust), so it might be a good idea to sign up (or convince your boss that he should!) with Big G’s social network.
Some people think“We’re on Facebook. We got this” or “Who needs another social network when I can just tweet something in under a minute?” Let me show you something that you don’t get with Facebook or Twitter, but that Google+ makes available to you.
What happens when you post something on Facebook? Sometimes nothing (it’s okay to admit it). Other times people comment, like and share. Then… Other posts. They drown that post you made. It goes down the Facebook tunnel, for no one to really see it. You can’t really search for it either.
Here is what’s different with Google+. A “post” is more like an actual blog post. It has the potential to rank. If your post is relevant to someone’s search query, it may appear in his search results (even more likely if you are in his circle); your post is not “wasted”. It’s more of an asset.
It’s quite interesting to see what the Google Auto-Suggest feature comes up with at times.
Google is Watching You….Google is God….Facebook is Evil….
These are actual suggestions that were shown by Google when we searched for “Google” and “Facebook” related terms! Given that these suggestions come from Google’s internal databases of what its users have searched over time, it’s funny to think that users would even search for such stuff!
In the image below, we have compiled some of the interesting responses we got when we asked Google (read “auto suggest”) what it thinks of itself and of Facebook. Some of them are quite funny! (Click on the image to enlarge)
Alternatively, embed this image on your site:
Feel free to re-use the image, share it and spread it. If you do come up with a few other interesting auto-suggests that we might have missed, please do put mention them in the comments below.
Still not on Google+? Still waiting for it to prove its merits? Not sure if it’s worth your while? The time to stop waiting is now. If you’re not implementing a solid Google+ strategy, your business is sure to get surpassed by others who’re quicker to the punch.
Google+ is no longer in its infancy. Today it has over 90 million users. Not only are these users active, but many of them are influencers. The people on Google+ tend to be early adopters. They tend to be passionate. They’re the people who can make or break a brand or business.
If you’re not on Google+ yet, you’re missing out.
The Search Plus Revolution
When Google released “Search Plus Your World,” they seriously changed the game. Google’s Search Plus basically gave every webmaster on Google+ super powers, while severely disadvantaging anyone who wasn’t.
Here’s how it works.
Instead of just using backlinks and on-site SEO to rank websites, Google decided to use Google+’s +1s as a core ranking factor. If I run a website and you +1ed some of my content, the chances of me ranking for a search of yours in the future is dramatically higher.
The level of power that +1s have is unprecedented. It’s not just a search engine factor, like using keywords in your H1 tag or having a good anchor text density. It’s literally a game changer. Just this one thing alone can cause your content to outrank pages with thousands more authority links than your site.
If you want to shortcut past all the hard work of SEO, this is one of the very few ways you can do it. Search Plus is an incredibly powerful tool that few webmasters are making full use of right now.
Since Google+ first garnered its 20 million users in record time, it has very quickly dropped out of the spotlight. Today, over 80% of its profiles are inactive, meaning most users who signed on to Google+ no longer really use the site. Many speculate that Google+ is by and large dead.
That isn’t true. Google+ was launched as a hard shot at Facebook and social media in general. That shot clearly missed. Few people would dispute that.
However, as a social network, Google+ is still very much alive. It has a core group of users that still use the network religiously. Google is using its +1 feature more and more to gauge the quality of websites, which influences search rankings.
Google+ isn’t dead; it’s simply misunderstood. People are still comparing it to Facebook, which isn’t a good comparison. Instead, it’s a completely different social network altogether.
Users Make the Network What it is
Social network programmers don’t always get to determine what the social network’s eventual goal is.
LinkedIn wasn’t originally built as a social network. It was meant more as a profile viewing tool for professional connections. However, as the social networking field exploded, LinkedIn had to adapt and added many of its social networking features.
MySpace wasn’t built as a music platform. But as Facebook overtook MySpace as a generic social media platform, MySpace had to adapt. Today MySpace is still fairly successful as a platform for musicians to showcase their music and connect with fans.
Orkut was launched as a generic social network, but quickly died off due to lack of hardware and engineers. However, for some reason it really took off in Brazil. Today it’s the largest social network in Brazil, something Orkut’s creators would have never expected.
The bottom line is, the creators of a social network often don’t have much of a say in what the network eventually becomes. No doubt Google+ was designed to overtake Facebook as a generic social network. That hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen. But it’s shaping up to be something very different entirely.