With over 100 million active users, Google+ is an emerging social media channel that marketing gurus should justly invest time in. Because Google+ can be used for various types of marketing, today’s discussion will focus on how Google+ can enhance your brand. A second blog post will cover Google+’s capabilities for search engine optimization (SEO).
To get things started on Google+, here’s some things you must do:
- Segment precisely: In order to follow someone on Google+, you must place this person into one or more of your circles. The benefit of circles advances the ability to tailor your messaging to appropriate groups, so take some time to think your categorization strategy through, or risk a messy database of contacts. Since every business is different, I can’t define the best way to break out your circles, but a good place to start is by using the similar segments to your existing marketing campaigns. For example, you can break out circles based on your email marketing list (opted-in, unsubscribed), your search marketing campaign structure (men, women, brands), or contacts within a CRM tool (leads, opportunities, clients). This will take some time on your part to figure out what is best for your business. However, remember that you can and should add people into multiple circles that you see fit. Here’s an example of just a few circles you might have, depending on your business targets.
- Make a statement: When building out your profile page on Google+, add as much description as you can using keywords, links, photos and videos related to your brand. Any recent and relevant content that was released should also be posted on Google+ before targeting the rest of the world. This way, your profile isn’t completely empty when users click to your profile page. With valuable content on your page, users will more likely add you to a circle they follow. According to comScore, users spend about 3.3 minutes on Google+ compared to 7.5 hours on Facebook. This means you don’t have to spend loads of time on Google+ either. However, you should be consistent across channels. Any content that your company has already tweeted or publicly announced in a blog post or press release should be on Google+ as well. Since there is no character limit on posts, make sure your content includes stimulating opinions, discussion topics, and/or information to build your brand.
- Appeal to others: Gaining popularity on Google+ is very similar to Twitter. Therefore, try using the best practices of Twitter to build your following on Google+. Start by linking your Google+ page on your existing blog, Facebook page, Twitter handle, Linkedin profile, and email signature. Let it be known that you’re an avid Google+ user. Strategically engage in content by adding thoughtful and lengthy comments in a related stream. Inspire conversation topics within threads or reply directly to people by responding to their comments. The beauty of Google+ is you’re not restricted to 140 characters. Well thought out, valuable, and interesting content will always attract people! Here’s a fun post that Danny Sullivan wrote receiving over 20 +1’s and over 15 comments:
- Embrace the features: Don’t be afraid to start a hangout. Google+ hangouts allows you to conduct group video chats in which you can invite up to 9 other people to. You can offer live video chat sessions with executives, marketing team members, or community managers. Unlike a webcast or email in which someone can just tune out or close it altogether, hangouts require face-to-face interaction between the participants. This could be a lucrative way to gain thought leadership in the industry, so why not test it out? Hangouts may not work for every business type, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.
The challenges of Google+ and how to overcome them:
- Are Google+ users relevant to my brand? No two platforms attract the same crowd, and the oft-lauded Google+ is no exception. Many Google+ users belong to the technology-friendly crowd. Consider this when creating targeted messaging. Successfully attaining early adopters to follow you could be greatly advantageous for your brand as these folks are highly influential.
- Where can I find followers? Similar to Facebook marketers who strive for more “Likes” on their page, Google+ marketers must devise a strategy to gain followers. Your Google+ followers do not have to be unique brand new followers. Fans and followers on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter is the perfect place to find followers. So sync your editorial calendar across all of your social media channels. Many of your followers and fans may be the same across channels, but you don’t know which followers are devoted users to which platform.
Unlike Twitter, which has been commonly used for networking and giving followers quick updates, Google+ is more parallel to Facebook as a social networking site in which friends can interact and share updates with each other. Most brand marketers already participate in Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook. Therefore, leverage Google+ as another channel to get similar messaging out. There’s no need to create content specifically for Google+, but rather in conjunction to your other social media channels. If you put all of your eggs into one basket, you limit the potential reach of your message. You can’t know for sure who is on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ at the moment you make a post, so you’ll need to cover all your bases to gain maximum exposure. For example, when a blog post comes out, post the first paragraph of the blog post on your Google+ and Facebook pages, and tweet the headline. If you’re running a promotion, announce on Twitter that full details of the promotion can be found on your Google+ or Facebook pages. In order to reach as many audiences as possible, leverage all of you
r social media channels when releasing content.
How to Use Google+ for Marketing – Part 2 will cover how Google+ affects your search marketing efforts.