The Jury still appears to be out on how much impact Google+ is having in the social media world, but with 170 million users it can’t be ignored.
Here we take a look at some of the best features that Google+ has to offer – and how brands can use them. This post will focus specifically on brand pages.
#1: Google is your friend
Let’s start with some basics. Google is your friend, there’s no harm in having any kind of profile with Google as they’ll align any information they have about your organization in their searches (see also YouTube). So giving Google+ a try – or at least upgrading any current Google profiles to integrate with the service isn’t a bad thing.
#2: Decide on the right profile
On Google+ you have two options; you can either set up a page as an individual or as a brand. The decision on which to use comes purely down to your planned tone and content.
Individual pages should be allowed to reflect any individual who runs them and if they become pure sales channels, users will soon get bored and look elsewhere to engage. If you want a more corporate presence, go for a brand page, where people will expect a semblance of a corporate tone.
#2: Complete your profile
Head over to Google and set up a Google+ profile. It’s relatively easy and if you already have a Gmail address is quite a short procedure.
Just be sure to maximise the SEO possibilities that this short task can provide. Add information about your company on there as well as details of what you do and of course any external web links. Google lists Google+ brand pages in search so the extra effort is most definitely worthwhile!
And keep that relationship with Google at the front of your mind – ensure that the language and words you use within your ‘profile’ are in sync with language you’re using on other social platforms and your own website. This will help with SEO rankings.
#3: Establish a tagline
There’s the option on brand pages to add a tagline, a short, concise message about your brand and page. Don’t reinvent the wheel here, add a tagline which is in sync with all other bios about your business across your social footprint. Ensure that it’s keyword heavy and helps with SEO.
#4: Create a content strategy
As with all other social media channels, ensure that you post regularly. This is best decided at the start with a plan and idea of the conversations you want to cover. A rigid editorial type framework may not be the best way as Google+ is about conversation so needs to be fluid. Instead, the team responsible for managing the Google+ presence for your business should determine a list of topics that they will put on the page.
#5: Attract users
In Google’s own words, the ‘Google+ relationship is the consumers to start’, meaning that you can’t follow or engage with an individual Google+ profile until that person opts to engage with your brand. Don’t let this put you off, it’s a similar scenario to Facebook brand pages (albeit in a different framework) and means that you have to fight for an individual user’s attentions, but use this to spur you on in creating engaging content.
#6: Create a Circle strategy
The way in which you share information on Google+ is rather unique. You can add contacts onto your profile on the site then categorise them into ‘Circles’, you then have the option to select which ‘Circle’ gets to see a specific post.
This is an incredibly powerful feature which works really well for brands and organisations who want to tailor the information they share. Maybe you want to arrange your ‘Circles’ based on the level of relationship you have with that user as a customer. Maybe you want to post information about new offers which are applicable to people with whom you’ve previously conducted business, this filter will help you do that.
#7: Circles don’t just have to feature customers
There are conversations taking place on Google+ right now which could be of great benefit to your business so don’t just go looking to add customers. Add influencers who dominate your industry and create great debate and conversation about it on Google+. Share and comment on their posts, it’s a great way of positioning you and your business as an industry leader.
#8: The ‘+1’ button
Another cool Google+ feature is the ability to give other users a ‘+1’. This simple button means that you can share, like and flag another user – or their posts – at the click of a button. Google also lets brands download the graphic for the ‘+1’ button so you can add this to your website and actively encourage people to engage with you on the site.
Be sure to post provoking content which encourages users to ‘+1’ you and your musings, it’s almost a verification of your post as a valid reference point on a particular issue, something else that Google will recognise.
#9: Stay active
As with all social channels, be sure to stay active on the site and keep posting relevant content that keeps the audience with you. You don’t want to be in a position where the circles with whom you share content are presented only with content that is past its sell by date!
#10: Be sure it’s right for you
The top brands on Google + are Android, Mashable and Chrome so some social media experts argue that the site is only really going to take off for tech brands. However there are some fantastic case studies of brands who have used the Hangout feature exceptionally well such as this chap who used it to host live cooking classes (as link: http://gizmodo.com/5829828/live-cooking-class-explodes-on-google+). As long as you’re innovative and see a return through user engagement then it’s right for you.
Using a wide mix of the right social media channels helps broaden your organisation’s social footprint, creating more presence for you across the web. Successful brands have a well established social footprint through engaging on a mix of channels as part of a coherent campaign. Google+ can contribute to your social media footprint and with the right language and use of brand and industry keywords can help maintain a presence online which is search engine optimised. Check each of our ‘Getting Started With…’ guides for further details.