Using social media to earn your business online visibility is an essential part of marketing in today’s digital world. In order to keep up with the trends, you must utilize every social media platform as it emerges. Google Plus is the latest player in the game, and it’s a great tool for small business owners to use—many consider G+ to be the perfect blend of social networking sites like Facebook and professional networking sites like LinkedIn. And as of this week, businesses can now make their own pages. So what are you waiting for? Follow these tips to market your small business using G+.
Make a Page
Google Pages allows businesses to create their own profiles (this long-awaited feature was not available when G+ debuted). Google Plus Pages work like Facebook Fan pages, but G+ allows you to dynamically interact with your customers and larger network more efficiently. Tip: Fill out as much information as you can, including your links to your website, blog, and other social media sites; this way consumers can instantly recognize your business and know how to contact you. You can, and should, also create a personal profile to give you and your business as much presence as possible.
Interact with Your People
Once you have your page, work on building and engaging your network. Post info, pictures (easy using the Instant Upload), and video to show your network what you’re about and what you’ve been doing. Google Pages is focused on facilitating a genuine relationship between businesses and customers, so use the platform to reach out in sincere ways. Did your bike shop sponsor a charity race? Add photos of the winners. Is your bakery considering a new frosting flavor? Ask your circles for their thoughts. The more quality content you provide, the more response you’ll get—and this can translate to very real results in the form of +1s.
In G+, the +1 button is the way to put your stamp of approval on something (similar to the “like” button on Facebook). But these plus ones do more than just give the thumbs up to something. Any time you +1 something, it tells your network—and the Web. Google takes your network’s +1s into account when producing search rankings. The more +1s your content gets, the more popular you are, and the more likely your bistro is to show up when someone searches for, say, local cafés. This is particularly important, considering that Google says 73 percent of all online activity is related to local content. The best way to get more +1s is to provide interesting, engaging content that is relevant to your network. You can do that by using G+’s special features to help you share tips, updates, and interesting finds.
Use the Tools
Google has wonderful tools to help you connect to your circles. For example, the Hangouts feature lets you video chat with up to nine people. You can use it to demonstrate a new product to a select group of customers, to do a quick Q&A, or simply to check in with your community. If you activate the Sparks feature, which brings you personalized content based on your interests (and industry, if specified), you can share interesting news with colleagues, helping you provide fresh, interesting, and timely content.
Tailor Your Content
The best thing about G+ is that you can control what you share with who, via your circles. Organizing your network into different categories helps you deliver specific messages to specific groups—ideal for targeted marketing. For example, you can create circles for return customers, new customers, professional contacts, etc., and deliver custom messages to each: a return-customer discount to regulars, an introductory offer for newbies, and an industry newsletter for your professional contacts. (Note: Make sure any promotions you’re running comply with the Google+ Pages Contest and Promotion Policies).
Promote Your Page
Create a custom URL for your G+ page, to make it easy for interested parties to find it. And remember to link to your page from all your other online sites: website, blog, etc. The new G+ Direct Connect allows people searching for you on Google immediate access to your page by searching your company name and adding the + symbol, but it’s better to make it as visible as possible. Also add the +1 Button so that users can recommend your content on Google Search and share it on G+. Encourage your other social media followers to add you on G+, and don’t forget to remind your in-store customers to add you, too.
Do you use Google + to market your small business? Leave a comment and tell us how it works for you.