The very mention of Google+ among internet denizens is guaranteed to get at least one skeptical ‘nobody’s using it’ comment. However, the numbers just don’t add up: with 300 million active users and a ranking among the top 5 social platforms in existence, online marketing strategists can’t afford to write off Google+ as a social media ‘ghost town.’
In today’s increasingly, connected social world, it doesn’t make sense for online boutiques to forfeit the traffic and brand engagement of a top social media network, especially when that network has the power of Google behind it. Here, we’ll look at the top 5 reasons why Google+ is an undeniable marketing resource to grow your business, and some tips to help you plan your Google+ strategy and implement it effectively.
Numbers don’t lie: Google+ truly does have more users than it’s given credit for. According to Forbes data, around 22% of people -- the same number who use Twitter and LinkedIn -- check Google+ at least once a month. Meanwhile, smaller brands tend to overlook this wealth of users. This gives you a chance to create a huge following and -- though it’s not the newest social platform on the block -- gives you the chance to become an ‘early adopter.’ Remember the people who scoffed at Twitter in 2008? Twitter early adopters are the ones scoffing now.
The same Forbes research looked at 3 million user interactions with posts from brands, and found that Google+ posts nearly rival that of Facebook when it comes to actual brand engagement -- liking, commenting and sharing -- and is double that of Twitter posts.
Learn more about Google+ Brands
Another thing to remember that Google+ is Google, which means that creating relevant and useful content on Google+ will catch the eye of the world’s most powerful search engine as well as your followers.
The potential to increase your search rankings with Google+ cannot be understated, considering that the world’s favourite search engine has started combining social media results in with search results for a more personal experience. That means if your followers are signed into Google when they search for something, you’re more likely to appear at the top of their search results. It follows that the more people you have added your Google+ Page to their circles, the higher your likelihood of showing up in search results. Google’s search algorithm also depends on social credibility, favouring websites based on the number of likes and +1s that each URL has garnered, so your Google+ activity makes your brand more credible.
And, while Facebook and Twitter do show up on Google, they’re the search engine’s top social networking competition. That means Google+ gets preferential treatment when it comes to what Google wants its users to click on. That’s controversial to some, but for web content creators and online brand marketers, it’s just a fact to embrace in order to grow your business.
Screenshot of “Tatler UK" fashion magazine's Google Search results. Notice on the right hand side beside the organic results, Tatler's Google+ account is displayed including follower count and image.
Starting a Google+ Page also allows you to link all of your original web content to your Google+ profile which basically just lets Google know that you are the creator of all of your content, no matter what websites your content is hosted on.
Google uses a content creator’s author ranking, or their history of creating useful content that people actually like, when ranking search result for a particular topic. That means Google+ is a boon for people who create good content, giving them the advantage of having Google automatically know that they’re putting content on the web that’s worthwhile.
If you’re already using Google Adwords to market your online boutique, starting a Google+ page and turning on social extensions is a no-brainer. Social extensions mean that when your advert appears, there will also be a line that says how many people ‘+1’d’ (the equivalent of a Facebook ‘like’) your business. This is the social media marketing equivalent of a trusted recommendation from a friend, as the stats show: turning on social extensions for Google Adwords gets brands
5% - 10% higher click-through traffic
Google+ is different from other social media platforms because it’s a topical network. That means it’s based on communities of interest, not who you went to high school with or who you’ve worked with professionally. This is an online marketer’s dream, as it offers the opportunity to engage with an audience that’s already proven to be interested in what you have to say, if you’re in the right Communities and Hanging Out in the right places.
Communities allow people to get together to have conversations about topics that interest them. They can range from the esoteric, like communities dedicated to specific computer programming languages, to more broad topics like food, music, and art.
As a brand, you have the ability to participate in these communities, monitor and moderate them, or create your own. Of course, as you grow your business using Google+ and have more time to dedicate, you can start to do all three. Think of communities as a chance for your brand to engage with others (which builds your web presence and reputation as a knowledgeable expert in your field), while also listening to your customer base.
Diagram produced by Hootsuite, identifies 4 key reasons why your brand should be on Google+
Video is king, but not everyone has the video editing expertise or time to curate a unique YouTube channel. Making videos through the Hangout feature on Google+ can allow you to create relevant content with minimum hassle. It’s the perfect platform for lively debate, as it allows multiple people to enter the Hangout and highlights the person who is talking. Why not gather your industry contacts together for a discussion that’s relevant to your brand? Or perhaps host a weekly chat that lets you share the useful information that you know with your followers? You can host virtual meetings with anyone in the world, and allow anyone to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of your brand. Or you can host interviews, talks, or even live broadcast your reactions as you watch a television show (fashion brands might engage their followers by inviting them to a Project Catwalk live Hangout, for instance).
After the Hangout is done, it’s archived and easily linkable to other social media networks, so anyone who couldn’t participate live will be able to view the conversation and join in through comments.
Learn more about Google + Hangouts
Most social platforms connect to Google+, so it’s easy to connect Facebook, for example, and keep your Google+ Page updated that way with the minimum amount of extra work
Use Timing+ after you have used Google+ for a while, and it will let you know the best time to publish your posts
Highlight the most important subjects and increase the likelihood of your posts being seen by using hashtags for appropriate keywords
Take advantage of the multimedia options Google+ has on offer to post things that strike the balance between text, image and video instead of a wall of text. Google+ even lets you use gifs!
Example of a creative Google+ page by jewellery based store Flash My Trash
Share and create content for keywords and topics that your brand is known for or associated with, and engage in communities that also cater to these themes.
Don’t forget the basics: a high-quality photo and succinct, entertaining profile are the key to getting people to follow your brand
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