When we think about social media marketing and growing a businesses’ presence, we often consider each channel as one giant entity. The truth is, each portal has its own unique personality, searchability, and followers. Each portal can be used in special and creative ways in order to access the searchers and users who are already present. Google Plus is quickly becoming its own platform for business blogging, social media marketing and centre of consumer activity. Unlike LinkedIn, Google Plus crosses between a business presence and a purely non-professional presence as you might imagine is on Facebook or Pinterest.
This is a huge benefit to companies. Why? Because Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are all dedicated to business to community (B2C) relationships. LinkedIn is entirely devoted to business to business (B2B) relationships. Google Plus is the maverick that straddles the best of both worlds, demographically speaking.
Let’s not dismiss the fact that rising to the top of Google+ is a plus when it comes to search engine rankings. The problem is, many companies simply use this service as a means of “plus one-ing” and following others rather than making a significant impact on their online digital marketing outcomes. This is a great time to push for more exposure so why not take the time to increase your Google profile presence, appearance and quality.
Social Media Marketing From Professional to Personal
Just because you’re a company with a professional façade, G+ encourages a more personal touch. Granted, business sites like LinkedIn and Bark (formerly Skillpages) focus on purely the professional side. But G+ can be used to promote the softer more human side of your company. Create personal profiles for your contributing bloggers and staff. In terms of SEO and SERP, authorship matters. By promoting the personality behind the profession, your rankings can improve as well as the authority of each of your contributors.
Once you’ve established a personal tone, continue in this fashion in order to increase social traffic. Talk colloquially, engage locally and speak from experience and personality, rather than simply along branding lines. Brand awareness and engagement can quietly grow alongside the personal.
Go Beyond a Google Page With Compelling Content
Instead of simply commenting and following others, create new content that is exclusive only to Google Plus users. If you already publish a blog, think of G+ as a micro blog addition. While your central company blog may address the keywords that draw interest from search engine results, think of Google Plus as a separate and unique forum for your company and your individual thoughts. Rather than simply re-promoting your blogs here, create posts for this community. Or in the very least, re-promote your blogs with a new and unique description. Always personalize each and every update. Your G+ follower may not be your Twitter follower. Therefore, your relationship is unique.
Make sure to post regularly. This enables you to be constantly in the stream of your followers and never very far from mind. Always update your page on a regular basis (at least twice a month.) If you don’t you won’t appear to be engaged with your own profile. You will quickly become stale in the mind of your readers.
Follow Only Relevant People and Businesses
At the moment, Facebook and Pinterest are inundated with profiles. 8.7 % of them are actually fake. In other words, it’s difficult to get someone to friend or follow you on these social sites because there’s so much traffic and is untrustworthy. G+ is a relatively new space and you are more likely to get added to someone else’s circle if you add them to yours. This will no doubt change in the next 5 years, but if you can get your foot in the door now, it will speak volumes later.
It’s good advice to do your networking mainly from your personal profile. Your business page should be a destination, but it’s not your fundamental personality. It’s unlikely that another professional individual in your niche market will want to connect with a company. They may, however, with a particular person in that company who has a profile that appears to align with their niche.
Interact One-on-one With Your Followers
This should be a no-brainer. If you’re already managing a Facebook page, you’re already doing this. But G+ is slightly different. Push for engagement of your personal profile over your business profile. The company page should only be used for queries, complaints and community updates. The personal side can express thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. When you +1 someone else’s post, be sure to add a thoughtful and relevant comment in order to evince a response. Be careful not be a sycophant, however. There’s nothing more obvious than a salesperson appearing to “like” everything. Inbound marketing methodology would suggest that you don’t sell but celebrate the ideas of others.
You can also ask others to +1 your posts. This will help your updates get read by other followers other than yours. Depending on your post, asking for a +1 can work. It works especially well if the topic is major and is of significant importance. For example, if there is an announcement that affects service or a new governmental regulation that can affect your company, you can ask that it be shared with as many people as possible. This can act like a public service announcement.
Also, get your friends and followers to “like” your G+ page on Facebook and on G+. Your real world contacts are also connected to others in your community. Get them activated. This should also apply to each and every single employee.
Be Trendy With the Explore Feature
There are always trends hitting the social sphere. Whether it’s a meme, GIF or news item, be aware of what’s in the zeitgeist of the social universe – particularly to those in your niche market. Use Explore to get a broad view of what’s trending in the moment. Then follow up with some input and content of your own. Be sure to separate your thoughts and comments between the personal and company page. Again, keep your opinions to your personal side and you are more likely to garner some followers.
How to Connect to Users That you Actually Want
You need to search for users that you want to connect with. Create a persona for that. Be proactive about finding followers. Then add them to your circles. You may also want to examine the Ripples feature that is designed to give you a birds-eye view of connections in your community.
Post-times Increase Social Media Marketing Reach
Every audience is different, but yours will most likely fall into some predictable patterns. Using software such as HootSuite or Bufferapp can help you to both determine the optimal time of day / week to issue updates and then set a schedule. Knowing when your posts are most likely to get read or at least get clicked on will increase your traffic. This is especially true for businesses whose audience is strewn around the globe and in varying time zones. Customize your schedule for maximum exposure.
Know Your Notification Triggers
When you do one of 20 actions, it’s possible to trigger a notification to your audience. Many companies are unaware that they are even doing this sometimes. For example, on LinkedIn, if you haven’t unchecked the box, it will notify your entire friend list when you make slight changes to your profile. If you spend a week making tweaks to your profile, your resume, your skills, your personal information, etc. you may be inadvertently drowning your friends (and future employers) in a sea of updates.
If you’re a company, you can appear to be a desperate spammer. Go check out the Google Plus settings and see the options that users may have for receiving notifications. Then try to only focus on the actions that you deem important for you niche audience. For example, don’t make a post and then re-post as an event. This can result in a double notification.
What Are Hangouts On Air and How Can You Use Them?
Hangouts On Air is a video platform that allows you your own channel to broadcast what you wish. If you’re an authority on your subject, consider broadcasting a live event or webinar.
The best way to promote your hangout is to create an event and then post it to a unique set of people in a particular circle. This is a way to target only key people in your contacts that you wish to connect with in a meaningful way. Get those invitees to invite others in their circles to increase your reach. While this can be a public event, you can still make it feel exclusive to those in that unique circle.
G+ Notifies Other Users When You Mention Them
A great way to encourage engagement (especially with major influencers) is to mention them in a post and allow G+ to send out a notification to them. This is a great way to get a discussion started. By involving others, you can get them to comment or share the post with their own followers and friends. The same can be achieved by using hashtags to link your posts or updates to a particular topic. Remember, these terms are searchable which means you can access an entirely unique audience who is interested in a certain news item, topic or event. You can even throw in some of the trending hashtags in your posts to grab some attention.
Your Employees are Brand Managers for Your Google Plus Page
In order to keep content fresh and up to date, you need to have every employee on the same G+ page. This means a bit of training, but really, only a half hour at the most. Train them how to:
- Search for new contacts
- Post updates
- +1 other pages
- Search for and add hashtags
- Mention others in their updates
- Search and join other discussions
- Add their G+ page to their email signature
- Add a G+ badge on all other relevant websites
This all Boils Down to Exposure
The more friends and followers you have, the more likely they will share your blog posts and updates with those people in their other circles. This is what you’re after, after all: To quickly grow your brand presence through as many avenues as possible. And because G+ has this great ability to combine the personal with the professional, you are more likely to grow your network with both professionals and potential customers.
Exposure can be a proactive decision. Start or join a pre-existing community within your niche. Use Ripples to find influencers in your niche. Make sure you have a badge on your website to lead new followers to your page.
Now is the best time to start interacting on Google Plus because of the relative newness of the field. And once you’ve mastered this social media marketing site with the advice given here, you can transfer that knowledge to whatever the next big site or service is in social media marketing for businesses. These simple inbound marketing rules work on every social site, so prepare for the future.
I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Or better yet, +1 this post and send me a question, query or comment on our Google Plus Page.