Since its launch in 2011, Google+ has been one of the most questioned Social Media sites. By most questioned, we mean that there were a lot of questions surrounding the new platform. Some that we heard most at Agent Z were:
How do I utilize Google+?
How many active users can I reach with Google+?
What's the point of Google+?
Do I really need to use Google+ for my business?
The answer for that last one is easy. Because of SEO and Google basically owning the entire search market, you were doing your business a disservice by not being on Google+. This was/is especially significant for brick and mortar businesses, as Google+ integration gave you improved search ranking as it pertained to your location, hours, etc.
So many companies set up their Google+ accounts for those benefits and called it a day. They didn't post anything - it was just a tool for SEO.
The New Facebook? Not Likely...
Google is famous for being tight-lipped on their inner-workings, and Google+ was no different. What was the point? What was the goal?
Most assumed they were trying to dethrone Facebook and become the go-to social network. It seemed laughable then, and seems laughable now, but at the same time, if there was a company that was going to take over from Facebook, wouldn't the logical choice would be Google? (No! If/When Facebook is threatened, it is going to come out of nowhere from a small start-up, but that's another topic for another time...)
Businesses who did give Google+ a try for more than just SEO (that is, those who actually posted content) tended to use it like Facebook. Not the worst strategy for the novice social marketer, but far from producing optimal results.
We still don't know exactly how many people are using Google+, but from what can be gathered, it appears to be near Twitter usage numbers. Not an insignificant amount, but definitely far from challenging Facebook.
Google+: Ever Changing
So, without diving into the longer history of Google+, let's sum it up by saying a lot has changed. Mandatory linking between Google+ and Youtube comments is gone, and a plethora of features have come, gone, or changed significantly.
Which leaves you, someone looking to utilize Google+ to grow your business, wondering where to go from here.
What is Google+ Now?
There are many facets to using Google+ as a business now, all of which can be effective depending on your strategy. For this post, we are going to focus on Google+'s fast-growing Communities feature.
Communities on Google+ are followed by individuals that are interested in the given community's topic. Users create and share content on these circles, specific to the topic.
This is a great chance for you to start engaging with a pre-screened target market. Do you sell bicycles? Join the conversation in the Fat Tire Enthuisiasts Community (or any of the other various Bike related communities) *It should go without saying that engaging in these informal settings is not the time for your hard sell, but rather to create interest, add value, and genuinely engage with your potential customers.
Google+ compared to LinkedIn
The content style you use to post on Google+ should actually be similar to a LinkedIn strategy. Post in relevant groups, post informational, entertaining content to start a conversation, or join an already occuring conversation.
It is more important to be very careful to not come across as wanting to hardsell in Google+ given it's more casual atmosphere compared to the very professional LinkedIn, so do keep that in mind.
Quick Google+ Do's & Dont's
Do: Find relevant groups and pay attention to what's going on
Do: Contribute to group posts and join in the conversation
Do: Share knowledge and information that will generate leads to your website or store front
Don't: Hardsell or post only about products/services without an interesting story
Don't: Post to Google+ without a strategy
Still trying to make sense of it all? Our team of social media experts can help. Check out our Social Media Services page for more information.