Over the next few weeks I’m going to write about the business aspects of various social networks and social media sites. Not all sites are for everyone; for example I don’t really like Facebook and if I wasn’t a member of some active groups there, I’d have moved away from it long ago. When you use social media for business it’s really important to find a site you like as well as a site that your ideal customer uses. For all the good intent in the world, you’ll not win business from a site that your ideal customer avoids like the plague; you may however win friends and influencers. You need your social media strategy mapped out before becoming active.
This week it’s one of my personal favourites… Google Plus
Google+ is Google’s own social media site. Fully integrated with other Google sites (and apps) like Gmail, YouTube and Google Docs, it’s still relatively new compared to Facebook, but offers huge potential. It currently has over 100 million users and this number is growing every day. Creating a Google+ account for your business gives you an advantage in Google searches and also offers excellent features that help you build your brand, making it one of the best social media sites for business use.
10 ways to use Google+ for business brand-building
1. Write an awesome description
Your short description is what will show up with your page in search engine results, so spend some time making it really cool. It should grab attention, tell what your business is about, and be keyword optimised. The reader must want to read it and then want to click through and find out more about you and your business and then add you to their circles. G+ is permission based, and the privacy settings are good when compared to Facebook (no forced opt-ins).
2. Be unique and personal
Whenever you’re interacting with people on Google+, be yourself and show your human side. Don’t be afraid to use a little humour, humour gets shared a lot on G+ from funny pics to amusing videos. It’s important to be your authentic business self and not appear impersonal. The days where professionalism meant standing back and acting aloof are over. Get used to it.
3. Use your profile photos
Google+ lets you put photos at the top of your profile’s main page. These are called ‘Scrapbook Photos’ and you can use them creatively to attract attention and brand your company. You can also change them as often as you’d like to. These can be hacked up to make an image that’s best viewed together. One of my favourite hack-ups is from John Yates, a photographer.
4. Track trends with Sparks
Never be stuck for something to share ever again I recently had a client who struggled to share great content; he had no idea where to find it. We spent an hour going through G+ Sparks and he’s now very happy – not only does he find and curate great content, he’s knowledgeable on G+ too The Sparks feature lets you search using keywords and find out what’s trending. You can then post these trends on your Google+ page to show your fans what’s going on in your industry. This helps to brand you as an expert who knows what’s hot.
5. Tell them about you
Spend some extra time writing a great ‘about’ page that tells people who you are, what you do and your brand message. Go ahead and use your real name and link your ‘about’ page to your personal Google+ profile to put a human face on it.
6. Add your other networks
Google+ gives you the option to add additional networks to your profile. This is simple enough to do. You also should consider adding G+ buttons to all your business sites so your customers and fans can share your content easily enough on Google Plus.
7. Think about your posts
On Facebook or Twitter, it’s perfectly acceptable to make spontaneous, off-the-cuff comments, but with Google+, you should be more careful. Currently, the site is used mostly for professional networking or as a news source. Spend some time on your posts and make sure they’re relevant and appropriate.
8. Share everything everywhere
If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you can download a program called Extend Share. This automatically gives you the option to share your posts to Facebook and all of your other social media sites, allowing you to brand across social media platforms easily.
9. Hold a Hangout
Hangouts is a feature that lets you do live video chats or impromptu webinars. Pick a topic related to your industry and hold your own Hangout. This gives your fans a chance to interact one-on-one with you. Even the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have done hangouts! Hangouts are one of the most powerful social media tools available; make yourself familiar with it.
10. Don’t be greedy
Don’t use Google+ only to promote your own brand. Devote some time to checking out other people’s profiles and updates. Comment and interact with them. This boosts your brand visibility and attracts new people to circle you.
Google+ is no longer new and shiny; it is getting more active every day. The key to using it effectively is to set aside a little bit of time each day for interactions. There’s a lot to learn and features are being added constantly.
Always stay focused on this one question – what do you want to achieve with your Google+ presence? Stay focused and the time you spend on Google+ will be well worth it.
PS did I mention it will help with your search rankings?
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