Just recently, Scoop.it announced that Scoop.it curators will be able to connect their personal profiles for the purpose of Google Authorship, and at the same time, can now connect a Google+ Business Page for sharing curated content. This is really exciting news, as busy business owners and social media managers can now use Scoop.it to curate and share great content to all of their branded social media profiles – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+.
But what if you don’t have a Google+ Page? Should you? Leaving aside the debate between personal profiles and business pages for a moment, let’s just focus on the benefits of having a Google+ Page to represent your brand and business. What will it do for you?
Well, as I just mentioned, the simple fact that you have a Page on Google+ gives your business and brand an identity on one of the largest and fastest growing social networks (yes, you read that right, Google+ is the #2 social network on the planet. That in and of itself should be reason enough, but let’s pretend it’s not and explore nine more benefits to being on the platform.
Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, Google+ is an Open Network. On Facebook, if you want to connect with me I have to approve that connection. Google+ is more like Twitter where users can follow other users and there’s no permission or automatic two-way connection established.
And while Google+ Pages actually work just like Facebook Pages, where users can +1 and Circle (Like) the Page and begin following it, because of the core nature of the network, a culture and micro-society exists where it’s both common and expected that Pages will actively follow other Pages and users and engage in the open discussions and conversations that are taking place.
This means that it’s really easy for Business Pages to engage with other users – both potential customers and potential influencers – and begin to create real relationships.
Google has often referred to Google+ as a social layer rather than a social network. That’s because Google+ is tightly integrated with many other aspects of Google, with more and more developing daily.
For instance, every Google+ Profile, Page and post is a “webpage” that is immediately (at least quickly) indexed by Google. When you have a Google+ Page and you post something about your business, you’re sharing that information directly with Google. Let that sink in for a moment.
I’m telling you that there are not just SEO benefits to sharing links to your website to Google+, but that your Google+ profile and posts can came up in search results as well. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a business where your competition isn’t yet using Google+, this is how you can blow right past them.
What’s more, many people don’t realize that once they’re logged into Google (and who doesn’t have a Google account for one product or another at this point?), whenever they do a Google Search they’re default setting is to view personalized results – that means the links Google serves you are based on what Google knows about you, and that includes your Google+ connections. If you’ve circled me or my Business Page, and are searching on a topic I’ve posted about, it’s more likely that my post is going to come up near or at the top of search results.
And business Pages get to participate in Google+ Communities – the groups within Google+ that are devoted to all kinds of topics and places and things. Pages can not only join and post and participate in discussions, but also CREATE communities of their own! Communities created by Google+ Pages represent tremendous branding opportunities.
Google+ + Gmail & YouTube
As a social layer, that means that Google+ is also heavily integrated with other Google products, including Gmail and YouTube. Google+ Pages can have a branded YouTube channel, and Gmail users enjoy a deep integration with Google+, like the ability to have notifications emailed to them and post replies from within the email.
Hangouts are the built-in chat system within Google+ and can include VoIP calls, text chat, video chat, group video chat and even Live video streamed to YouTube! Businesses are using Hangouts to make presentations to clients, host virtual meetings, and using Hangouts On Air to demonstrate expertise and authority.
While not yet rolled out for all businesses, +Post Ads are the integration between Google+ and Google’s extensive content advertising network. Essentially, businesses with Google+ Pages will be able to use specific posts, even Hangouts and Hangouts On Air, as AdSense ads on content delivery websites.
For instance, rather than a static graphic ad on related websites, businesses can use a Google+ post where perhaps they shared a video and some commentary, and have that display as a dynamic ad on other websites. The ad will look and work just like an embedded version of the post, so visitors to the other site will see the post, +1’s and shares, and be able to comment on it just like a Google+ post.
While some businesses can and should share their messages and posts with all of their followers, there are some businesses and situations where it would be very advantageous to be able to have a more targeted approach to status updates. On Google+, if a brand uses their Google+ Circles to segregate their followers, they can pick and choose who may see these targeted messages.
You see, on Google+, you don’t just follow someone. You circle them and when you do, you place them in one or more circles that you’ve set up. You can create as many circles as you need and call them whatever you wish.
For instance, a business that has locations in New York, Dallas and San Francisco might include, among all their other circles, a circle for each of those metro areas. Each time they get a new follower, they can choose to circle them back and place them into an appropriate circle. This way if the business wants to share an update or some news that only applies to Dallas, they can choose to share it only with the Dallas Circle.
Expanded Online Presence
For small businesses in particular, it’s extremely important to make sure that your business can be found in as many places as possible. While I don’t advocate business owners try to be active on every social network, I do recommend taking the time to at least create a profile and keep it up to date. With each profile you create, particularly Google+, it becomes a little more likely that someone searching for you or a business like yours might see you online and click to find out more.
Professional Connections and Enrichment
Finally, one of the more subtle yet most powerful benefits of getting on Google+ for businesses is the tremendous opportunities the network brings with regard to creating professional connections and enrichment opportunities. Every day, business owners are meeting, networking and collaborating, in ways and in frequency never before seen on other networks.
And we’re really just scratching the surface here. The best way to appreciate Google+ for your Business is to dive in. Create your Business Page, start sharing great content, and start working on developing relationships with other people on the platform.
- Follow interesting People and Pages within your industry.
- Search for and join Google+ Communities that are relevant to you.
- Watch for and attend Hangouts On Air that seem interesting.
- Participate in discussions.
- Be Social & Be Patient.
Remember that Google+ is a social network and not an advertising medium. While there are a great many benefits to being present and active, it’s not a marketing medium for you to hawk your wares. Businesses are better advised to treat Google+ (and every social network) more like Business Networking Events where you’re given opportunities to shake hands and introduce yourself to people and have conversations. Over time, relationships develop and sometimes those turn into leads and sales, other times they turn into sources of referrals, and so on.
Now go get your Plus on!