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7 Ways To Leverage Your Google+ Presence To Promote Your Business

Leverage Your Google Presence

This is an updated version of a post that was published on Social Media Examiner.

Are you distraught at the announcement that Google+ as a social network is, more or less, redundant?

Ever since Google announced that it will no longer be necessary to create a Google+ profile to use its other products, marketers have been lamenting the death of Google+.

But, despite the fact that Google’s attempts at creating social networks haven’t exactly met with resounding success (think Google Buzz, Wave and Plus), Google+ has a number of products that many marketers love and will continue to use for a long time.

There is reason to be hopeful about leveraging your existing Google+ presence. According to the Social Media Examiner, Google+ has a strong international following. In India, 80% of Internet users have a Google+ account, and nearly 40% are active on it regularly.

Google’s strength has always been its search function, so features that are linked to Google search have and will continue to be very popular. In this article, I outline seven ways to use your Google+ presence to promote your business.

1. Create a Google+ Business Listing

This used to be the most important Google+ feature, especially for businesses that have a local presence.

Not only did a Google+ business listing increase your visibility on local and mobile search, but it allowed potential customers to call you, get directions to your business on Google maps, and check out your verified business website.

Your listing also made your business’ photos and YouTube videos easily findable on your business page and let your customers leave reviews for your business right on your Google+ page.

Google Reviews

However, with recent changes to Google+ Local, the Google Places API has stopped delivering Google+ Local page URLs and is rendering Maps-based URLs, instead, reports Miriam Ellis on Moz. Google+ Local pages are all but invisible to the public now, so your Google+ Business Listing may not give you the same benefits that it once did.

But, until Google officially pulls the plug on Google+ Business Listings, there’s no reason to delete your business page, if you already have one. Google still uses all the information you’ve provided in your business listing to show your website in local search results.

Check out this business listing for a restaurant in Pune, India. As a result of verifying the business website, it now ranks #1 in the organic search results for the business name. Also the listing clearly shows all the business’ information, including their location on Google maps and customer reviews.

Malaka Spice Listing
Unless Google starts offering another way to verify your business information that has nothing to do with Google+, your business listing could become even more important as the importance of mobile search grows.

If your business is a retail store, restaurant, cafe, or hotel, your Google+ Business Listing will remain a crucial part of your online presence for some time.

2. Add People To Circles

Google+ Circles offers a very effective way to create subsets of people we’re connected to and share content and updates selectively with them. You can use Circles to segregate friends, customers, business partners, affiliates or influencers you follow.

Circles still has value, in this sense and, for some users, it has substituted email usage, allowing them to send updates to a large number of people without the restrictions that come with Gmail.

Here’s how I’ve create circles based on friends, family, clients, and people I’ve met at conferences. It helps me segment my updates to my audience and their interests.

My Google Circles

3. Create and Join Communities

For a long time now, Google+ Communities has offered us a way to organize groups of people around a topic of conversation or a cause.

According to Google+ evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, “Communities have transformed Google+ into a more deeply connected environment, people’s favorite communities have become a starting point for their Google+ activity each day. Whether you’re representing a brand or are an individual with a passion, communities are a way to connect with like-minded people.”

You can use Communities to recruit and connect to passionate advocates of your products or your cause. Or you could just create one around a passion or topic of interest, like a football club or a movie franchise. It’s no surprise that the Star Wars community is one of the most popular communities with over 4 million followers.

Star Wars Google Community

You could create a Community for your family or college alumni. You can also join other people’s communities to network with like-minded people.

Marketing Communities

Peg Fitzpatrick advises that you don’t just replicate your Facebook or LinkedIn Community on Google+. Make your Google+ Community unique so that it provides real value to its members. One way to do this is to organize a Hangout on Air exclusively for your community members.

4. Create and Curate Collections

Collections are a unique way to group your posts by topic. This feature allows you to categorize the content you share on Google+. Of late, Google seems to have been adding features to make it easier to add posts to a collection, and they seem to be expending some effort on adding bells and whistles to this feature.

According to Google, “Posts in collections you follow will appear in your Home stream, with a link to easily jump right into the collection so you can get to similar content from that author.”

I found, to my surprise, that creating a Google+ Collection on my Business Page helped me get over 8000 followers for my Collection in just a couple of months, and increased the number of followers on my brand page as well. The number of followers on my Collection grows at the rate of 100+ followers a day.

SEO Collection

At the time of this writing, I have about 111 brand page followers and over 2.5 million views of the content I’ve shared.

Google Business Page
Bloggers can create a Collection of their blog posts and give subscribers another way to get updates from their blog. The Marketing Resources Collection has 743 followers and mostly shares posts from the DOZ.com blog.

Marketing Collection
Business people can create collections of their product photos, while non-profits can create collections of their campaigns. You could even create one featuring a list of the books you’re reading.

If you create a collection that is especially useful or interesting, you could get into the Featured Collections section. Jack Vetterli’s Collection of posts on Southwestern Utah has garnered over 19,000 Followers. Jack shares gorgeous and often interesting photos of landmarks and landscapes of this beautiful natural region.

Utah Collections
Sabah posts beautiful fan art, gifs and memes to her Game of Thrones collection for her 14,000+ Followers.

Game of Thrones collections
Remember, the best collections are not self-serving. They consist of content shared from a multitude of sources on a topic that you’re passionate about, so do promote a lot of third-party content in your Collections.

Does Google believe that Collections will become an increasingly important way to tag and categorize information on mobile devices? The fact that it’s already available on Android, and will soon be available on iOS, makes me think so.

As mobile content consumption and sharing increases, it’s possible that Collections will become a useful tool to help us classify and share information. It could definitely help to declutter our news stream by following only the topics we’re interested in.

Featured Collections on Mobile

Whether this feature will reflect in better rankings or visibility remains to be seen, but think of it this way. By getting us to create Collections, Google is making Google+ users do manually what its search function does algorithmically – sift and select content that we love and want to share with others.

Ultimately, it could all be part of Google’s grand plan to improve the quality of its search results. Collections could be one Google+ feature you’d want to invest some time and effort in.

5. Start a Hangout

Since it was first released, Hangouts have become one of Google+’s most popular tools. Hangouts are being used by business people, politicians, book authors and anyone who wants to connect to an audience in a more intimate and authentic fashion.

Today, hangouts are being used to create and promote events, whether it’s a product launch, a book reading, a Q&A session by a politician, a webinar or just a conversation on a topic of interest to your audience.

Google Hangout Events

They are also being used by businesses for video conferencing and by families and friends to connect to one another across the world. Hangouts are a fantastic way to grow your audience and engage with them on social media. My friend, Denise Wakeman, holds regular hangouts for her community of Google+ followers.

Denise Wakeman Hangout
As one of Google’s best products, Hangouts and Hangouts On Air have helped Google hit the jackpot as far as popularity is concerned. Their use will only grow as live video streaming becomes all the rage and people find more ways to utilize them to promote a business, cause or political party.

6. Share Photos

The best part of Google Photos is that it offers unlimited photo and video cloud storage, and apps for Android, iOS, and the browser. It stores high resolution photos and can automatically categorize your photos into People, Places and Things.

When you add photos to Google+, they also become available in your Picasa Web Albums. I especially liked the “stories” feature that helped me create a narrative account – with animated maps and all – of a recent trip I took to South India.

Google Photos Story
But, with so many apps that help you organize your photos, Google Photos is one app I am not completely sold on, if only because I’m a little leery of the public (or the government) having access to photos that I only want my family or friends to see. As John C. Dvorak notes, it “amounts to inviting people over to scrounge through your underwear drawer.”

For all the amazing features of Google Photos, Google’s stand on privacy has been rather blurry, so unless they are more transparent about the copyright of the photos we share and what kind of safeguards they will put in place to prevent misuse, I’m wary of using their service, except for photos that I don’t mind sharing with everyone.

But, you don’t have to worry about privacy if you’re sharing photos to promote a business or a cause. As long as you use your keywords appropriately to name your photos, they are likely to show up in Google’s search results and give you more visibility in image search.

7. Network with Influencers

Google+ offers a huge opportunity to connect to influencers, follow them, share their posts, and engage with them. For many people, it also offers a clean slate with which to connect to others, devoid of the baggage of family and friends that accompanies your Facebook account.

You can use Communities to find influencers and add them to your Circles. To get noticed by other people on Google+ you need to take an interest in their posts, share them with your followers and add them to your Collections.

Google Influencer Guy Kawasaki
Despite the declining interest in using Google+ as a social network, the tips above will help you leverage individual products available through your Google+ account, so that all the effort you’ve spent in building it is not wasted.

Did you find these Google+ tips useful? Do let me know in the comments below.

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11 Comments

  1. Hi Priya,

    Haven’t been your blog for long time, great tips on google plus but it seems like they are late in the game, facebook is all over the place now but again its Google so you never know…

    One thing I was wondering about if they give any sort of preference to businesses in SERP’s with google plus page ?

    If you know, do let me know about it, was kind of curious plus if they provide substantial leverage then I think we should all move to gplus but like I said “if” there is … something..

    1. Hi Arshad,

      As I mention in the article, having a Google+ business page is still useful, but it seems that Google is removing G+ from a lot of their services. However there are some products that are very useful to build a following, including Hangouts and Collections.

  2. Ivan Couto

    Hey Priya,

    Really liked this article, very informative. Thanks and best wishes for more such!
    Warm regards. Ivan Couto

  3. Thanks a Priya for writing and describing How can we grow our business with help of Google Plus.

  4. But one thing I would like to know is there any automatic option available to post my latest Article on Google+ and twitter.

  5. Jazz

    Hi, I have developed new website and want to promote it on social media so this information that you provide in this post is very important for me. So thanks for sharing this info. Great work.

  6. The nature of your offering will determine which of the various social media platforms works best for you. Some will find that they’re getting most of their business from Facebook, some excel on Linked In, others find Twitter to be the most effective, and some will be quite successful on Google Plus.

    And some of us, meaning me, have seen every effort to engage with the users of Google Plus result in a long string of big fat failures. Try them all, follow good advice such as what you’ll find on Blog Brandz, and learn which social media sites work best for you. If none of them work for you, worry. Otherwise, just focus on what works.

    1. True, Michael. We need to do what works for us. If a specific social network does not move our KPIs, there is no use wasting time on it.

      1. I agree with you the google plus really useful to business. Through this the business people promote their business better when compared to the other ways. You give clear and briefly about the features and how to use effectively. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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