There is more powerful marketing potential packed into Google+ than just about anywhere else on the web. Marketers who write Google+ off as just another complex and convoluted social network with limited marketing potential are misinformed.
Second in size to Facebook as a social network, Google+ has one clear advantage over Facebook and many not so well-known benefits — the ability to readily leverage the world’s largest search engine, being one of them. Google has built this into Google+ deliberately.
Here is a quick overview of some of the benefits of integrating Google+ into your online strategy.
Google+: Start Your Engines
The Business Page
There are just a handful of social networks that are brand- and business-friendly. Google+ is one of them.
The Google+ business page is the foundation from which a Google+ marketing strategy is launched. Once you get a business page set up, validated and linked to your official website, you immediately have enhanced trust with the Google search algorithms. This alone can bump your search results.
Once you’ve set up your Google+ business page, you are eligible for a custom Google URL for your business page that further cements your legitimacy, trust and priority with the Google search results algorithms.
Now, to finish the foundation of your future Google+ empire, you will want to optimize your Google+ home page by using relevant and SEO targeted keywords throughout your page. Of course, you will want to do this in an elegant and non-spammy way. This will generate another boost for your business in the search rankings.
Carefully select your keywords so you can use them in your headlines, descriptions, taglines, introductions, as well as general content. By planting them in more durable content elements like headings and tag lines, you’re maximizing their effectiveness.
Keep this in mind for future posts. As with Facebook, Google searches can now be conducted for hashtags, at least in the U.S. and Canada. This will produce a list of related Google+ posts on the right side of the Google search results page. This is pure SEO gold. Content producers who incorporate hashtags into Google+ posts that match known user keyword searches can experience astounding increases to their website traffic.
Get all your employees involved in your Google+ strategy instead of just expecting a few social media geeks in the marketing department (if you have one) to do all the work. Google+ is built on a circles metaphor, so the more people who have you in their circles the better your search results will be. Encourage employees to link to and share news, posts and other content through their circles, and take advantage of the network effect.
Build a Community
As with any marketing effort, you’re going to want to engage with users. On Google+, this means the two Cs — content and circles. Circles are the way Google+ communities of interest are organized, and they can be used to target your content to different segments of your target audience based on their interests and interactions.
There are two basic principles for community building, the two Es — entertainment and engagement. Start by posting a higher percentage of entertaining content to build interest and get people involved. Later, when your community is established, increase engagement by posting content that is more issues- and solutions-oriented. You will have to find the right balance for your business and its audience. Naturally, in addition to great content, posting regularly is essential in building an audience and keeping them engaged.
Shift Into Gear
Now, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do on Google+ to really amp-up your marketing efforts.
Hangouts and Helpouts
Google+ Hangouts is a free video chat service from Google that enables both one-on-one chats and group chats with up to 10 people at a time. Hangouts utilize sophisticated technology to seamlessly switch the focus to the person currently chatting.
Google Hangouts can be accessed via laptop and desktop computers as well as with Android mobile devices. Google+ Hangouts also offers a "Hangouts on Air" feature for broadcasting live video conversations that are accessible to anyone with a web browser.
Helpouts are similar to Hangouts and are used to connect people who need help with those who can provide assistance, over live video. These could be customers, prospects and others connecting to subject matter experts, sales people and others within your organization.
Contests on Google+ have some restrictions. One of the best ways to use Google+ for contests is to use them for recognizing individuals for creative contributions and user-generated content or results.
Not only is Google+ tightly integrated with Google Search, it is also tightly integrated with AdSense and AdWords. Google +Post advertising lets you promote and post links to your Google+ content on sites that serve Google ads, thus dramatically increasing the reach of your Google+ posts.
You won’t be left in the dark when it comes to analytics on Google+. In addition to yet another tight integration within the Google suite of products and services — Google Analytics — there are a number of third-party tools with quality free offerings that integrate with Google+ to help you keep track of your online efforts and results.
Leverage the Influence Loop
Google+, with its seamless integration to the rest of the Google online platform and suite of products and services is the perfect place to leverage the influence loop.
Your goal is to rank higher in general search results. By creating a community and building an audience, you start that process. When other people follow you, they benefit from your ranking and rank higher too. As they rank higher, they share and link back to more of your content. This causes your content to rank higher and generate more interest in circles you were never able to touch before. This, in turn causes you to rank higher, and the cycle continues.
This is a virtuous cycle that is the basis for the Google+ Circles metaphor. It is also a perfect example of the way sustainable marketing works. It’s the online equivalent of the best marketing there is: word of mouth!
Do you use Google+ is your marketing efforts? Let us know why or why not in the comments!