In 2011, Google+ was launched to great fanfare. And while it’s true that it took a little time to find its footing, the platform has been quietly chugging along, establishing itself as one of the primary venues for connecting brands and consumers. This is due, in equal parts, to:
So how can you take advantage of all Google+ has to offer to build and maintain a loyal audience? Let’s take a look.
Yeah, I know, this sounds like a no-brainer, but if it is, then a lot of marketing managers out there must be walking around with empty skulls. Why? Because oh so many businesses seem to miss this fundamental step. A complete profile means a complete profile, with a clear tagline and story. Adding a keyword or two will be good for SEO, but only if it feels right, as both customers and Google’s latest algorithms reward natural language. Make good use of your cover photo as well, choosing the most professional and appealing photograph, as it’s bound to appear large when visitors load your page and you want to look as amazing as possible. Below is an example of a great cover photo from Starbucks:
How you approach your business page will be key not only in communicating your brand’s story and style to your customers, but also in getting them to your page in the first place. To begin, it’s a good idea to add a Google+ badge to your website and blog posts so followers can easily find your G+ information. Likewise, add your Google Plus URL to your other social media profiles.
At a more basic level, picking the right designation (category) for your page when you’re signing up is crucial to getting the right people to your page (see below). This is especially true for local businesses or places, as you’ll want to completely fill out your location details so potential customers can find all the information they need about you when they search. Doing so will also give you preference in search results when a customer types in your industry name plus your locale.
Once you’ve got your page all set up, it’s important to develop a feed that’s as relevant and compelling as that of the most popular news organizations and personal bloggers on the web. A good example of an organization that does this well is NASA: I mean, just look at that feed. You’ve got everything from:
How cool is that? Of course, NASA has a pretty fascinating subject matter to work with, but there’s a lot to learn from their frequent updates (they post about 15 times a day) and varied content, which is often visual in nature. Your Google+ feed can also benefit from such varied content, whether you’re:
There’s no better way to keep your audience active and engaged than to get them creating content for you. Contests work particularly well for this, and because they come in many different forms, they present a constant source of content. Here’s a couple of ideas:
Hosting a contest doesn’t have to mean giving an expensive grand prize either. Sometimes, just featuring the winner on your Google+ page is enough motivation as it is. In the meantime, contestants will be sure to share news of their doings on their own social media sites, driving traffic back to yours.
Out of all of the social platforms, none make it quite so easy to categorize followers as Google+ does with Circles. Just create a category for every kind of follower, from consumers and suppliers, to consumers interested in running tips vs. consumers interested in biking news. The more specific you get (and keep in mind that you can put each follower into as many categories as you like), the easier it will be to direct only the most relevant content their way. This also makes them far more likely to +1 or share what you post with their followers too. As a great example of this, take a look at Whole Foods’ feed below: Here we see content that’s all within the lifestyle category. But let’s suppose Wholefoods don’t not want to bother their suppliers with ideas on DIY gifts? They could easily use circles to share such a post only with their “DIY customers,” or some other specific Circle.
Just like any other social media platform, G+ is all about the conversation. It shouldn’t just be you talking about yourself (my, what great products I have!) or your customers talking about you without any kind of response. Keep your eye peeled for any reviews on your page so you can respond:
If, for example, you have an upcoming product release and you’d like to start building awareness amongst a particular group:
Caveat: The goal here is to build brand awareness at a key time, not to bombard private conversations with advertising, so keep your comments relevant to the topic at hand.
Perhaps the best way to have great conversations on G+ is with Hangouts on Air (HOA). HOA is a great tool that allows you to have group video chats that also archive directly to YouTube. With Hangouts, you can connect directly with your followers for interesting discussions, product demos and events that are just plain fun. Cadbury, for example, holds all sorts of interesting events, like this Triple Chocolate Tasting session, which featured their “Tasters Circles” showing off their taste buds in real time. Imagine what sorts of HOAs you can have with your customers!
Well, what it means is that you should get on Google+! Sure, it’s got a growing following, but I mean, come on, why wouldn’t you want to be on the platform that connects space enthusiasts to people who are actually in space? Google+! Get on it today!
Rosie Scott is a content marketing strategist at a digital marketing company and avid blogger. You can find her and her knitting at The New Craft Society or on twitter @RosieScott22 where she's always up for chatting.