When people say Google+ (also known as G+), the first thing that comes to mind might be that it’s a rarely-used social network, not as ubiquitous as Facebook and Twitter. And as a simple social network like Facebook, it’s true, it hasn’t taken off as much as predicted so far.
So why should you bother with G+? Because, aside from the fact that G+ is growing, it’s actually a lot more than a simple social network. It’s a Google integration service that ties together many Google products, including the search engine. These tips will teach you how to use Google+ for small business marketing.
Yes, using G+ correctly can get you better rankings in Google Search — you can even get your business in that coveted box on the right of the search results page, just by using it (Be sure to read this article with tips on a few WordPress plugins that will also help get better search results.).
With so many formerly popular Search Engine Optimization techniques driven into the ground and rendered useless, it would be silly to ignore G+.
You may have created a Google account along the line but, even if you don’t use Gmail or Adwords or G+ (if you use an Android, for example, you most definitely have one and probably use it every day). If you don’t have an account, it’s easy enough to create one by going to the main Google page and following the signup link.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have a barebones G+ profile. To see it, click on +yourname on the upper right of the screen when you’re on any Google page.
There’s a popup wizard that can walk you through completing your profile, or just click “Edit” in each section. You’ll also need:
- A profile photo. This is your profile, not the company page, so a nice photo of yourself is better than your company logo here.
- A cover photo — This is the larger photo on your profile page. Google offers a Gallery of stock photos to choose from, or upload your own (try Canva.com) . It’s always good to have a custom cover, but it’s much more important on your business page than your personal profile.
Adding people to your Circles
G+ does things differently from other social media sites when it comes to followers. When you add someone, you add them to “Circles,” smaller subgroups designated for friends, family, business connections, acquaintances, etc.
The great thing about this is that, when you post, you can select which group sees it. So, you don’t have to share family photos with your professional contacts, and your family doesn’t have to see business posts. You can add people to as many Circles as you want.
(Want to learn how to connect better with your customers? Be sure to read this post on how to create a personal image of the perfect client).
To find your connections, click on “Find People” on your G+ profile. You’ll see suggestions of people you may know, plus you can search by name, school, company, or address book. Add lots of people to your circles on your profile before setting up a page, so you have people who will see your new page announcement posts.
Creating a page
You have one barebones Google Business page, under your personal Google ID, when you sign up. While you can create new G+ pages from scratch, you can customize the page you have for your business. Go to “pages” on the dropdown on the left side of the screen on your G+ profile. It will show you your page. Click on it, and a window will pop up to offer you a very short tour, which basically tells you to:
- Fill out the business profile completely
- Share posts
- Manage Google Apps
All of these are very important. But first, you need to customize your page. The process is similar to customizing your profile:
- Upload a logo or other business-appropriate picture as your page icon
- Add a cover photo that conveys your brand
- Add a brief introduction to go under your business name. This should include identifying information such as your location and what your business does.
- Add your website URL
- Create a 10-word tagline. Your business should already have a usable tagline, but if not, come up with something pithy and memorable that embodies what you offer.
- Add any other URLS to your page’s Links. These should include Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, which can be linked directly.
- Choose which tabs you want visible — is your Youtube mostly personal videos? Uncheck the Youtube box under Profile in G+ Settings. You can show as few tabs as you like publicly; all tabs will be visible to you.
With Google, there is an almost endless number of apps, and Google’s most useful built-in apps are automatically integrated with your G+ business page, no plugins needed. Right off, you will have several useful apps connected to your page:
- My Business, which helps your to organize your business pages, including any pages you have access to as a member of a team.
- Insights, the native data and traffic management tool.
- Youtube, if you’ve connected it to your Google account (this is likely if you use a Youtube app on Android).
- Google Maps, to show visitors to your page your location
- Hangouts, to communicate with customers and business contacts in real time — This is basically a text messenger that allows you to create groups and share media.
- Google Calendar, to sync up events between G+ and your Calendar
- Google+ Events allows you to share events on your page and invite people, while working in conjunction with Google Calendar.
- Photos, to edit and share photos
Creating visibility for your G+ page
Now that you have a page, you need to keep it well-maintained if you want it to have good Google Search visibility. Start by making a post across your social networks (including your individual Google+ profile — you can’t just import those connections) inviting people to connect to your new business page. Then, get to work:
- Post visually, using photos with captions of at least 100 characters. These are the kind of posts that get the most +1s and shares, according to Entrepreneur.com.
- Link to your high-quality blog posts and relevant links to other people’s high-quality posts, with captions of at least 100 characters.
- Post direct on-topic text posts.
- Link your G+ page to your main website and other sites you use.
- Add your G+ info to any signage, printed promotional materials, and your business card.
- Encourage a few of your satisfied customers to write a review of your business; make it easy by placing a Review box prominently on your About tab or by having the Reviews tab visible.
- Leave reviews for any businesses you deal with, especially professionally.
- Join G+ Communities related to your business, and interact with other users.
Try to post daily, even if it means sharing a link or a brief text update, with “meatier” posts such as links to your own blog posts and custom photo posts at least once or twice a week.
Don’t stress out if your connection numbers seem drastically lower than on your Facebook and Twitter or let it discourage you into letting it slide. The G+ pages that are making a strong showing in Google Search results are active pages, and they’ve built up their followings by maintaining a good flow of content.
You don’t have to create content that is unique to your G+ page (that is, you can share posts across all of your social media platforms), but you do have to keep your page moving to get results.
Be sure to check out our other “how-to” articles for social media and small business marketing
How to Use LinkedIn for Small Business Marketing
Circle us your Google+ and let us know how you get on. Mention this post so we can come and say hello and add you to our circles.