Google+ for business – What, Why, How and Who?
Written by Simon Geraghty.
Google+ rolled out their business pages back in November 2011, and I’ve heard people ask “why should my business use it? I don’t know anyone else who is using Google+.” As a result of these conversations we will cover the following areas here:
- Why should my business use Google+?
- Who else is using Google+?
- How to make the best use of Google+?
But we already have a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr profile, you name it … Why does my business need Google+?
Let’s start by meditating for a moment on who has launched this social network and the impact of having a Google+ Business page might have on search engine results? Finished, right let’s move on. To begin at the beginning, Google+ was launched June 28th 2011 becoming the fastest growing social network in history, garnering 25 million users in less than a month; Google followed this up with the launch of Google+ business and brand pages in early November 2011.
Google’s CEO Larry Page announced Google+ user numbers last week (19/01/12) and to date 90 million people have registered for the site; he also stated that 60% of Google+ users use the site daily and 80% visit on a weekly basis. The site is projected to reach 400 million users by the end of 2012 according to some estimates. This compares to Facebook’s current 800m users, estimated to hit a billion users by 2012, while Twitter is predicted to hit 500m users in March.
Google has recently begun integrating Google+ brand page information into search engine results. This feature is available to anyone searching on Google, irrespective of whether you are logged in to your Gmail or are a current Google+ user. The integration of Google+ brand page information into search results is an obvious enticement for businesses and brands to join and stay active on Google+. However, even before Google+ launched social factors from sites such as Twitter and Facebook were already influencing your search engine result pages (or SERPs).
To date this change has generated a backlash for Google reminiscent of Microsoft’s decision to bundle Internet Explorer in with its Windows operating system in the 90’s. Back then the U.S. Department of Justice accused Microsoft of using its Windows near-monopoly to beat Netscape in the browser segment.
How make the best use of Google+? Like most social media platforms you should:
- Find your voice: What are you here to talk about? Are you presenting original material, offers or reasons to visit your page and website? Google+ particularly lends itself to visual material Photos, Videos and audio. Google+ is not constrained by number of characters so you can engage in deeper and longer form conversations with users than on Twitter. Like all social media sites try not to just talk about yourself all the time…
- Develop an eye catching page.Here are a few we like at Dot Dash:
- Mashable: the bible on all things social
- Google: always go to the source in any endeavour!
- Nasa: strong use of photography
- New York Magazine: who make good use of the banner space to promote their own title
- Greenpeace International: for their untiring work on behalf of humanity
- And finally, Brando Digital: an Irish digital agency who have made great use of photography in their profile page.
- Stay active: Develop a plan of material and start to broadcast content. Relevant content combined with regular activity should help you build a base of followers on your pages.
- Use Circles: originally a unique component to Google+, you can segment people into a variety of groups, such as customers, staff, following, VIPs, and whatever sub-groups you wish to create yourself. You can sort by location, sector, content etc.
- Stand out: How are you differentiating your activity here versus your other Social Media accounts? Are you presenting content, offers, behind the scenes news to your followers here ahead of other channels?
- Develop a personalised URL for your Google+ business page: Currently, you are not able to develop a vanity URL for your page within Google+ itself, although we expect to see this feature to be available for business pages eventually. In the meantime, go to the site http://gplus.to instead. Once you are there all you have to do is choose a name for your page, enter the numeric code of your page e.g. 100265976679729380815 and then click ‘add’.
- Hold a hang-out: It’s the latest social media rage, join Barak Obama’s hang-out next week for inspiration.
So who is up there already? According to SocialStatistics.com The 10 Most Circled Pages are:
- 106 and Park: 413,540 Followers
- Android: 360,917 Followers
- ESPN: 334,896 Followers
- H&M: 311,418 Followers
- Samsung USA: 285,084 Followers
- FC Barcelona: 258,693 Followers
- Mashable: 254,741 Followers
- Marvel: 231,847 Followers
- Chelsea F C : 229,208 Followers
- Pepsi: 225,683 Followers
(For the purpose of this article we have removed Personalities & Bands such as Barak Obama, Coldplay, and Conan O’Brien from the list). There are some interesting entries here, with many challenger brands becoming early adopters in the space. If like me you hadn’t heard of ‘106 and Park’ it is a hip hop video chart-show in the US.
Google+ is still evolving, and items such as auto populating your short bio when it presents a list of people for you to follow aren’t there yet. Some social dashboards such as Tweetdeck do not have Google+ integrated yet, but this is surely just a matter of time. However, these all add to the workload of managing multiple social media channels for your business.
The biggest draw-back from our point of view is that as a Google+ Business page you are not able to follow, or circle to use Google’s terminology, individuals unless they are already following you. This means that growing a fan-base for your page is slower on Google+ than Twitter or Facebook. Clearly in terms of time and energy Facebook and Twitter are where your larger audience resides and your energy should be focused accordingly.
To use a turn of phrase much beloved of football pundits, at the end of the day it boils down to you: whether you have the time, bandwidth or resources to manage multiple social channels for your business? If you do, why not come over encircle Dot Dash and let us know what you think.