It’s official: Google+ is big and poised to get bigger. Google recently announced that its social network had surpassed 100 million users just nine months after its launch, and that means the value to small-business owners is both high and on the rise.
Rather than wasting your time with a “Google+ Basics” post filled with generic social media tips, today we hope to offer seven specific ways to give your Google+ Page a boost.
- Create a catchy link. First things first: Have you ever seen the URL for a Google+ Page? It’s a horrific mass of numbers guaranteed to impart no brand awareness whatsoever. Fortunately, a number of link-shortening services exist that can help you turn your forgettable string of characters into a memorable customized G+ URL. GPlus.to is the most-used link shortener, but Plus.ly, GoPlus.us and GPlus.is offer similar services.
- Put a pretty face on things. Google+ Pages lack the visual flair of Facebook’s Timeline. By default, the only image on a Page is a square company logo in the upper left corner. However, your Page can support up to five additional photos. (Enter the editing mode and click on the Add Some Photos Here box at the top of the page.) Images are arranged horizontally and can achieve a Timeline-esque feel; check out the Pepsi and Ferrari G+ Pages for examples.
- Use a short, powerful tagline. When a user hovers over a link to your business page within G+ — either in search results or in the midst of a discussion — a small preview box pops up displaying your business’s picture, tagline, and an option to follow your page. Only the first five words or so of your tagline appear in the preview box, so make them count!
- Harness the power of Hangouts. One key point of differentiation for G+ is its Hangout feature, available to the right of your business’s Stream (the equivalent of Facebook’s Wall). Basically, it’s a group video chat that allows multiple people to converse at once. How can you use that functionality for your business? Michael Dell of Dell Inc. envisions using Hangouts for a more personalized customer-service experience. Others have used Hangouts for Q&As, roundtable discussions, and as a Skype conferencing replacement. Keep in mind that the person talking becomes the face of your company to people participating in the Hangout.
- Different posts for different Circles. Circles are Google’s way of allowing you to sort your acquaintances on G+. When you write a post, you can choose which Circles to share the content with. This functionality allows you to send highly targeted information to specific G+ users. You could, for example, share one promotional deal to the general public, a slightly better deal with your regular customers, and a blockbuster special with your key clients. The targeted marketing possibilities are almost endless; however, you can only add individuals to your Circles if they’ve added your Page to their Circles first. With that in mind…
- Add a G+ badge to your main website. No one will Follow your business if they don’t know your business is on Google+! Fortunately, Google offers simple coding tools that allow you to add a Google+ badge and +1 buttons (the equivalent of Facebook’s Like button) to your website to help you spread the word. Ask your webmaster to work them in.
- Optimize your business Page for SEO. Google indexes its social network in its search results, so a finely tuned G+ business page can create a lot of organic Google juice, boosting your web site’s rankings. Adding links to your Google+ Page’s About section is only the tip of the iceberg. (Note: We covered optimizing your Google+ Page in-depth here.)
Of course, true social media success only occurs when you engage in active discussions with your customers. Be interesting! All the superficial tricks in the world won’t compensate for a nearly blank, rarely updated slate.