The New Year is a fantastic time to forage around for opportunities to refresh your brand’s social media marketing strategy. Chances are, you already have a personal Google+ page that you signed up for upon its inception in 2011. It provides an interesting alternative to Facebook, offering more privacy options and a customizable interface for those who are interested in slight design freedom. Whether or not you’ve put much care into your own Google+ page, it’s the right time to focus on building a solid one for your brand. The main feature within Google+ is the ability to create circles. This allows you to create content geared towards specific audiences which can include customers and fans, friends within your industry and other brands that you wish to gain wisdom and attention from, taking out the stress of having to create “one size fits all” posts.
Google+ continues to debunk the idea that it’s “just another social media platform” by having its own results ranked higher than other platforms’ in Google search, which it has the advantage of being connected to. Its inherently direct nature allows you to focus on what’s important without getting distracted by ads or other unrelated visuals. The layout is always clean and easy to follow. It’s all about SEO – visitors may not initially spend hours clicking away on your page, but they’ll find it at lot faster than if your content was published on a different social media platform.
Just because the affiliation with Google makes your page easily searchable, you have to take your efforts one step further to have a user wanting to discover more on your page. Here are some tips to help you really stand out from the crowd:
1. Give Your Page A Makeover
First impressions are important and a user will decide in less than a minute if they’re going to continue browsing your page. This stage is also where you’ll be evaluated and possibly considered to be ‘circled’ – the Google+ version of ‘follow’.
The first step in your page makeover is to add a unique custom cover photo. Whether it’s your logo, a company photo, or something else that represents your business, make it really stand out.
Text is also very important, so take advantage of the rich text editor, where you’ll find the usual format options like italic, bold, underline, bullet/number lists and anchor text links. This will help break up an introduction that is veering on the long side. For more tips on how to makeover your page, click here.
2. Optimizing Your Page For SEO
A vanity URL is a great method in optimizing how easily searchable you are. After you’ve created one, have it verified as you would your brand’s Twitter account. While you may notice that there are other Google+ users who share the same name as you, they’re not necessarily impostors – they just provide a different service. Having your account verified not only puts an official virtual stamp on your business, but it also ranks you higher in search engines results over non-verified pages. This eliminates any confusion when somebody is researching your business.
Another area that can help with SEO is the subtitle – don’t neglect it! Choose your words wisely. The first ten are visible in the header on your page, while only the first 21 characters are shown in the roll-over pop up in search results. Identify how you’d like to be searched and use those words to make a very descriptive tagline.
Once you’ve lured in a potential follower, the next part they’ll read is your introduction. This is where you can really impress and sell yourself. Apply the same SEO approach you did for your tagline – the more key words you have, the better. Avoid being too obvious and don’t add in keywords just for the sake of being easily found in search results.
3. Quality Vs. Quantity
Nobody is going to want to visit an empty page. It’s as good a call to action as a site with a dead link. Be sure to have at least four posts up before you present your page to the scrutinizing masses.
Be consistent in your formatting. No one likes a monotonous-looking block of text. Just like your introduction, incorporate text highlighters like bold and italic to emphasize key words. Treat a Google+ post as you would a blog. The same rules apply.
Photos and videos really enhance a post as well. Try not to post anything without at least one photo. Google+ is known for how well photos are displayed, so take advantage of that. Everyone loves a visual and it’ll make your post more likely to be read.
4. Promoting Beyond Google+
After putting the time into making your page appealing and SEO worthy, you’re almost ready for the grand reveal! Like any good event promotion, many outlets are used to get the word out. Think of this as a way to recruit people to your page, showing that this is where you plan on publishing your most original content. Don’t think of cross-posting as a way of cheating, see it as an extension of your page. You can also add a Google+ badge to your official website.
If you have employees who have a personal Google+ page, ask them to regularly link to posts from your page – everyone can use a little help from their friends! By sharing content, a new visitor has a reason to go to your page and might be enticed to find out more if they were interested by the link that they followed. This ensures that your well-developed content won’t go unnoticed.
Increase your reach further by having your personal page helpers ‘circle’ people who might be interested in your business. Unlike brand pages, personal ones can follow anyone they’d like. The intent is that these potential customers will visit their pages, notice the linked content, peruse it and then become a regular visitor.
5. Engage and Hangout
So you’ve finally established a good follower base! They’re interested in your regularly posted content and maintain a consistent level of engagement. Be sure to add your new followers to your circles so that they don’t feel like they’re in a one-sided relationship. You can create various circles depending on the type of people your business would attract. These can include customers, related businesses and competitors. If someone in particular stands out when it comes to engagement, make a special circle for them where you return the favor by sharing and engaging in their content. What goes around comes around!
Don’t let your comment field run amuck – monitor it to make sure that the environment replicates that of a friendly debate. By participating in your own post commentary, you’re allowing followers to see the person behind the business. Hangouts, a video conference tool, are great if you wanted to organize a Q and A event. Both of these approaches help create an intimate atmosphere for your followers.
Not only is mutual engagement good form, it also puts your page in a higher standing when searched – since Google boosts pages in search results that are gaining more influence.
Examples Of Reputable Google+ Pages
Here are some examples of Google+ business and brand pages that have clout:
With close to 2.5 million follows, the Android page has an extra advantage due to its mobile ties with Google and the phones that they produce. The content has great variety, from videos promoting new phones and products and their capabilities, as well as updates within the Google Play store. Android also rewards its customers. To celebrate the download of 10 billion app downloads, Android discounted selected apps to only 10 cents each. The list changed daily, drawing more than 2000 shares and 3000 +1’s. They’ve also created sub-pages for app developers to make it easier to gather and share knowledge.
Coming in second at 1.2 millions follows, Mashable’s page is constantly active. The page is filled with the latest news, whether it be political, scientific, or something in the media. The variety would keep anyone interested and wanting to visit the page regularly to see what’s being posted and participate in the discussions. Mashable has a great grasp on its use of links should any user want to know more about a posted topic.
President Obama gets major cool points here. This page gives you the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and engage with the Obama administration. The page does a great job at promoting not only public appearances, but also content that doesn’t make the news. For example, a video was made of Obama answering questions on Twitter during a scheduled Q&A concerning the extension of middle class tax cuts. The president has also participated in Hangouts. The White House has really embraced all that Google+ has to offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hit 2 million (they have just over 1.3 million at the present) within the next year.
Google+ is a fantastic platform for businesses and brands. This is due, in part, to being closely affiliated with the Google search engine, which gives you a step ahead when users research the type of services you provide, as well as a voice in a growing social media platform.
Circles offer a great advantage, allowing you to direct both promotional and informational material, tailoring it to whoever the audience is. Google+ breaks the mould of the ‘one size fits all’ post by making a point to create quality relationships rather than an accumulation of faceless numbers.
If you were once a Google+ skeptic, throw your apprehensions out the window. Sign up, make your page look snazzy and post quality content. +1 should become your best friend, since every time you give or receive one on a page or post, it’s publicly shared and increases higher search engine ranking results for your business. If you care about your page, others will inevitably do the same – making for some great rewards down the road.