You’ve heard it a thousand times: “Google+ is a ghost town.”
Statistics say that that’s changing. As of June 2012, there are 250 million users (http://google-plus.com/7117/google-now-250-million-users-strong-june-2012/), 50% of which log in on a daily basis. That figure is growing fast. Every day, you’ll be able to find more and more of the people you want to reach on Google+. If you’ve been hesitating to become an active participant, stop waiting.
Beyond the growing number of members, there are plenty of reasons you’ll want to get involved.
According to Michael Elgan, the social network will soon be Google’s only product. Their other properties, like the search engine, Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, even Youtube will become “mere functions of Google+.”
Ultimately, all roads lead to Google+.
Setting up your business page is pretty simple, so we’ll skip the how-to. Let’s talk about some ways you can make your page stand out from your competitors and make G+ an effective component of your online marketing strategy.
Get a Short URL
Google doesn’t let you customize your G+ URL yet, so trying to share the web address of your page can be a major pain. And don’t ask anyone to remember it! But there’s a way to get around that.
Go to gplus.to and choose your nickname. It can be anywhere from 3-25 characters. For example, mine is gplus.to/donniebryant. It’s short, simple to remember and share.
Maximize the Visuals
A study done earlier this year found that pictures and videos drove more than 65% of engagement (+1s, shares and comments) on Google+. Use them as often as possible. Get unique, evocative, high quality photos that tell visitors something about who you are as a brand.
If you’ve ever tried added a hyperlink into a post or clicked the ‘Add Link’ icon, you’ve noticed that the image is rather small. You can add large pictures of your choice to any hyperlink (instead of settling for one that’s on the page you’re linking to) by using the Add Photos button before you add the hyperlink into your post.
This is an outstanding way to make your post more visually appealing and attention-grabbing. Plus, if you’re linking to a product page, the larger image allows you to showcase the item better. You can show the item being used in a way that’s not featured on the product page itself.
Don’t forget the videos. While videos get plenty of interaction among Google+ users, most people are not adding their own videos. Posting from Youtube or Vimeo is fun, but anyone can share what you’re sharing (and in most cases, they already are).
Use videos to highlight your expertise in action. Give your visitors a peek behind the scenes at your office. Share customer testimonials.
Another great idea is to invite past and current customers to submit photos and video footage of themselves enjoying your product. Set up a contest or give another kind of incentive for their participation. This generates excitement, engagement and even more sharing.
Add Formatting to Your Post’s Text
You can use the following keystrokes to add formatting to the text in your posts:
- Add an asterisk (*) immediately before and after the text to make it *bold*
- Place underscores (_) around the text to _italicize_ it
- Use a dash (-) on both sides of the text to add the –strikethrough– effect
This enables you to add emphasis to important points and really differentiate the look of your posts from the others on your visitors’ streams.
People already complain about the “ghost town” feel Google+. Don’t add to the problem. Be visible by posting regularly. If everyone else in their Circles is inactive, the content you share will be the best thing about their G+ experience. In fact, some people will follow you just to have something going on in their feeds.
Share other people’s and brand’s content as long as your audience will benefit from and enjoy it. Promoting others’ material adds variety to your posts, creates good will and encourages those people to reciprocate. It also shows that you’re not one of those self-centered individuals or businesses that only think about themselves.
Smart marketers actively promote their friends, partners and influencers in their fields. Use the mention function (+Name) as often as you can. The more you mention others, the more likely they are to mention you. Many G+ users add new people to their Circles because someone they know and trust mentions them. It’s a win-win proposition.
Make sure when you’re using your own Circles appropriately when posting content. Whenever possible, share publically (you have to add “Public” to the Add names field) to put your posts in front of the greatest number of eyeballs. People who don’t follow you yet can see these posts, so you can demonstrate the kind of value they’ll get from adding you to their Circle.
Some content is meant for specific segments of your audience. Create Circles to share targeted information with the people who will be most interested. Spare those that won’t get anything out of it.
Ask Others to Share
If you’re actively sharing other people’s content, you should feel free to ask them to share yours, too. I don’t know the statistics for Google+, but it’s been shown that using variations of “Please ReTweet” on Twitter increases both the likelihood that it will be shared and the number of times it gets shared (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14982/New-Data-Proves-Please-ReTweet-Generates-4x-More-ReTweets-Data.aspx). I’d be willing to bet that tactic would have a similar effect on G+ as well.
Encourage your followers and colleagues to spread the word about what you’re doing. The SEO impact of sharing through Google+ is truly impressive. After a +1, post or share, Google’s search engine automatically indexes the URL and gives it higher position in search rankings, especially for those in the Circles and Extended Circles of the sharer.
By all means, get into as many Circles as you can, and find ways to get those followers to engage with your content.
If Michael Elgan’s statement is true, Google+ will become a “super product that marginalizes smaller rivals to the point of irrelevance and clobbers Facebook with total superiority.”
Unlike Facebook, which is a stand-alone entity, Google has already merged many of its technologies into their social network. So many of the products we already use are pushing us toward G+. Google refuses to be ignored.
Now is the perfect time to concentrate on building your presence and become a superstar on Google+. Can you afford to wait?
Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant. He specializes in radically improving businesses with Stealth Salesmanship and Strategic Marketing. Find out more at http://donnie-bryant.com/.