We asked 12 experienced social media professionals to share their best tips on Google+ for business with you.
Here are 12 ways you can use Google+ to promote and market your business.
#1: Personalize your page URL
Carly Simon's 70's hit “You're So Vain” gave vanity a bad name. But using a so-called “vanity URL” can be a smart move when it comes to your online presence.
While Facebook allows page owners to create vanity URLs of the structure facebook.com/YourName, Google does not currently do the same.
By default, Google+ page URLs look like this: http://plus.google.com/103145815507039304597/posts. It seems likely that at some point Google will allow for personalized page URLs, but until they do, there is a service that can help.
At http://www.gplus.to/, you can create a custom URL like http://www.gplus.to/strutta, which will redirect a user to your page. This link is more user-friendly and branded for your business or organization. When it comes to branding yourself on social channels, a little vanity is OK!
#2: Craft an eye-catching mini-bio for your hovercard
Get creative with your “Employer” field and use that to craft an eye-catching “mini-bio.” This then shows in your hovercard, which is often the only information someone on Google+ has in front of them to decide whether to circle (follow) you or not.
Make it really easy for more people to circle you by having a bio somewhat similar to what you may have on Twitter.
The field is not obvious at first, but it's under the “Employment” section and has to be your current employer. You have plenty of characters to write what you wish there. I would caution against writing something like “self-employed,” as shown in the screenshot below—that doesn't really tell anyone anything about you.
I've written a bio similar to the one I have on Twitter and included a link—though it's not clickable.
#3: Create a great first impression
I think one of the most important things that businesses need to do with both their personal profiles and Google+ pages is fill out all of the details. Don't think of Google+ as just another social profile. Think about it as your first contact point with a new client.
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With that in mind, make sure you have a great description in your introduction, all of your contact details, and links to your most important online properties including your website, top pages on your website (products or services), blog and main social profiles (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). Also be sure to use the photostrip underneath your headline to display the photos that best represent you and your brand.
#4: Promote your Google+ page
It's important to remember to promote your Google+ page from your website and other online presences. A recent BrightEdge study found that of the world's top 100 brands that had scurried to create a Google+ business page, 61 of them had not displayed a link from their website to their new Google+ page.
Businesses should tap into features such as Google Badges. To do this, you need to sign up at the Google+ Platform Preview and then create and customize your badge at the Google+ configuration tool page. The page will generate a script that you'll code into your website to enable and display the badge.
I'd also suggest adding the +1 button to your company's website or blog, which allows visitors to recommend it with a single click. HubSpot reported that websites that use Google's +1 button generated 3.5 times more traffic from Google+ than websites that don't have the button installed.
You can read more about my tips in my post, “The Marketer's Field Guide to Google Plus Business Pages.”
#5: Create a suggested circles list
My favorite Google+ marketing tip is to create a prioritized list of suggested circles you should be placed in at the top of the About tab of your profile page, both for your business and personal profiles.
Visitors can then quickly and easily determine your business focus, which will encourage further exploration of your descriptive bio or company introduction, and lead to more connections.
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#6: Leverage photos to connect with your audience
If you're like a lot of people, you're using Google+ as a tool to build awareness for you or your business. If that's the case, you may want to update your Google+ profile to include photos that provide helpful facts and figures about your industry.
In my case, I wanted to provide my Google+ followers information about social, mobile and digital media. I did this by creating graphics that were 720 x 720 pixels and uploading them to a scrapbook on my Google+ profile.
The result is that visitors to my profile are greeted by 5 short factoids about marketing. This is helpful to my followers and also positions me as a thought leader in the industry.
#7: Establish your presence and wait for your audience
Depending on what business you're in, it's quite possible that your audience isn't actively using Google+ yet. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge is to find time to be engaging and relevant on yet another social network. The opportunity is for you to establish yourself as a thought leader in a space where your competition may not be actively participating.
To balance resource constraints with opportunity, I recommend that businesses establish their presence and listen for openings to engage. When you start seeing your audience adopting Google+, take the time to recognize what they like about the platform that they aren't getting on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Rather than trying to figure out how to do everything on Google+ that you're doing on other social networks, look for how Google+ can help your business fill a unique need for your audience and build a strategy around that.
#8: Get to know your audience on Google+
When considering your content for the Google+ platform, remember that although there may be some overlap with other social media, this is a new and different platform and potentially an entirely new and different audience.
Get to know them by asking questions, polling, sharing content and interacting. Do not presume that what works for your business on more established social channels such as Twitter and Facebook will have a cookie-cutter fit with your Google+ audience. Tailor your message and content to their needs.
#9: Use brand micro-circles for repeat business
To get the most out of Google+, concentrate on creating circles on a micro level. Work on a business-by-business basis, adding names to client businesses and brands, each of which has their own circle. You can also add names to “influencer” circles, which will help you connect with people in your field whom you want to meet online.
Using Google+ as a business knowledge base improves communication with your clients and your project management ability as you chat, video-conference and connect with new people through these micro circles.
Segmentation and attention are often vital when you're shooting for repeat business. Google+ has handed you a way to do this neatly and efficiently, without having to use multiple platforms or media!
#10: Capitalize on Google+ search to show you're there
Search Google+ for mentions of your brand and industry-related keywords. Save your searches and they will appear on your left sidebar for quick reference. Monitor your saved searches daily and respond to mentions, comment on threads and reshare people's posts.
Even if you have nothing to say, a +1 lets them know that you're paying attention, as a great social brand should be.
#11: Use Google+ hangouts to communicate with customers
Brands should be looking forward to hanging out on Google+.That's right. No key benefit required, just communication. The power of the hangout is truly (for me at least) THE big differentiator of Google+ over other social platforms.
Need some insight into how consumers are thinking? Ship a bunch of them a bag of M&M's and a calendar appointment for your next focus group.
Want to make your consumers feel special? Call them with an invitation to hang out with someone interesting: your CEO, a famous spokesperson or maybe the head of product development. No script, no questions. Just a chance to talk with someone they'd really like to meet.
Or best of all, be the campfire that your customers want to visit and teach your customer (who probably doesn't have a clue about Google+, much less a hangout) how they can get on Google+ and join a hangout to meet with other like-minded folks and make new friends who share a common interest. The list can go on and on, but suffice it to say, the ability to create real-time, multi-user video chats is ripe for innovative marketing.
#12: Join others' hangouts
If you're really going to learn how to effectively use hangouts, you'll need to participate in some (as a person, not really as a marketer). Taking the time to learn the norms of hangouts will make your first hangout as a business far more successful. If you use the Chrome browser, there's a plugin called “Hangout Canopy” that allows you to see what live hangouts are happening at any given moment. (Go here for more on how to hold a hangout.)
What's your experience with Google+? What marketing tips do you have to share? Please share your questions and comments in the box below.
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