Are you on Google+ yet? If not, you need to join now. 20 Aug 2014

One of our Social Media and Content Marketers (and Google+ guru) Ninette Minnaar shares her insights on Google+ and how your brand can benefit from it.

If your brand is not yet on Google+, then you’re missing out on invaluable opportunities – the kind that will give your website that boost to get to number one. It’s one thing to have a beautiful interactive website, it’s another to have good SERP results, brand reach and authority. Brand authority is achieved by knowing your industry inside and out and by reaching the right audience. It’s becoming common knowledge that Google tends to favour content posted to their own social platform,  therefore, if you feel your business could perform better in the digital space, it’s time to start taking  Google+ seriously.

When it comes to managing a Google+ profile, many people tend to feel uncertain and uncomfortable about it. For some reason, it has a lingering reputation of being confusing to use, when in fact it’s as easy as updating your status on Facebook.  The interface is similar, but Google+ has far more functions that users can engage with.

User options in Google+

 

Circles

The wonderful thing about circles is that you are in control of who sees your post. You can name your circles as creatively as you want to and no one will see them.  People won’t know to which circle you’ve added them to, giving you ultimate privacy. You can have one circle, or fifty; the choice is yours.

Adding Google+ users to your circles

 

Communities

Joining communities is what Ninette enjoys most about Google+. Keeping up with industry-related news has never been easier.  Communities serve as a platform for businesses and consumers to engage and to get involved with one another. This is where you’re supposed to know your industry well so that you too can contribute to conversations and bring positive exposure to your brand. In her personal time, Ninette uses communities to read up on her interests and hobbies; it’s a great way to learn new things and improve general knowledge.

communities in Google+ that you can join

 

Hangouts

Bringing consumer and brands one step closer to face-to-face interaction is Google Hangouts.
Consumers are now able to interact with their most loved brands on a real-time basis. This is a great opportunity for businesses to gain new brand advocates, to cement the returning consumer’s trust and to gain thought leadership in the industry in which it operates.

Hangouts in Google+

 

Pages

Pages are similar to Facebook business pages. What sets Google+ apart from Facebook is that you’re able to integrate a Map function to your profile. The location of your business is linked to your page, thus, if someone Google’s you, your location will show up in SERP. This tells visitors exactly where to find you, making the hassle of first Googling your physical address a hassle of the past. Besides an opportunity for an increase in sale leads, having Google Maps increases your brand’s online footprint, which Google sees as an indication of authority.

Google+ business pages

 

Tips

Find your competitors on Google+ and add their followers to your own circle. Many people will add you back, giving you the advantage of imprinting your brand message and erasing or competing with that of your competitors.

Never follow more people than the amount that follows you. So if your following is growing, unfollow some users that you’ve added in the past or those who don’t follow you back and don’t add any engagement value.

Show your appreciation of other people’s post by liking, sharing or even just posting a simple comment of “that’s beautiful”. Your brand’s logo will remain behind, and other people who comment on the post who will see it might just pique their interest, resulting in a new follower.

Don’t even try and push a sale on Google+! People will unfollow you very quickly. This platform is not about pushing your product or service, it’s about contributing knowledge and human emotion to communities of like-minded people. When someone comments on your post, always respond with an answer to a question or just a polite thank you; common courtesy still counts.

Hashtags are a wonderful thing, if you’re not using them (correctly) in your posts then shame on you. Whenever you write a post in Google+ make sure to use a hashtag because it’s a way to get your content found among 300 million users. Lucky for us, Google+ has made it easy for us to use trending hash tags by displaying a trending section on the user’s newsfeed.

Google+ trending topics

If you want to keep abreast with developments in your industry then it’s a good idea to add industry leaders to your circles.

Change your profile picture and cover photo often. Give your profile life, don’t just throw content out to the world.  Write a status, even something as insignificant as: “Today is a beautiful sunny day”. People trust brands more if there is a human touch and it seems more “real”.

Don’t be scared to interact with people. If you’re writing an interesting article about coffee shops in your area, find those people on Google+ and tag them in the post. Not only does this benefit them in terms of SEO, it benefits you too because your brand will be exposed to their followers too. It’s a win-win situation for both parties and it will build good relationships.

 

Popular brands excelling at Google+

  • Woolworths SA
  • Vodacom SA
  • Toyota
  • Cadbury
  • The New York Times
  • Mashable
  • Zando

If you’re still unsure, remember it’s the same as making friends in real life. Write the way you speak, show appreciation and applaud people’s posts. Don’t forget to be friendly and informative.

Follow me on Google+ and see how I do it!

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