Google+ is an interesting social media platform for the business owner. It’s loved, hated, ignored, misunderstood, and more often than not, confusing. When considering what I love about Google+ marketing for this Top 3 series, my Top 3 were not as obvious to me. In fact, I wasn’t sure that I could come up with three favorite things at first. However, that led to the realization of why it’s growing on me as a social media platform, and why I expect it will grow on everyone – eventually…
1. “Wild West”– This is changing a bit, but if you ever wanted to explore the “Wild West” and be one of the trailblazers, then the equivalent of that online is G+. There aren’t as many rules or best practices on Google+, but with the transition of Google Places to Google Plus Local, the network is going to become more popular. Best practices will evolve, and most likely they’ll have something to do with “terms of engagement,” but for now, it’s a lot like an open range. Some folks are there personally, and some are there for business, but it’s a great social media platform to experiment with right now. That can be liberating or frightening, depending on how you feel about sharing content.
TIP: Just like early pioneers who had to band together to “head west,” the reciprocal nature of Google+ is important. Don’t be afraid to “Follow” or “Circle” a variety of people and businesses, and take a look at how they’re using the network. Give a +1 to those who you like, share their posts, and “band together” to grow your network. It’s as important right now on G+ to learn from one another’s strategies as it is to promote your own business!
2. Content Rich – Perhaps because so many people are experimenting, or perhaps because there are some who are committed to making Google+ a “serious” network, there is a lot of outstanding content being shared on this network. Blogs, photography, scientific discoveries and more are all getting great exposure on the platform, and if you are following a variety of types of industries or industry leaders, you can learn a lot! On more than one occasion, I’ve seen something unique or new on G+ that isn’t getting shared on Facebook or Twitter. As a small business owner, it’s always a perk for me to be able to pass on things that I’m learning that aren’t over-saturated on other networks.
TIP: Take the time to create a personal profile and a “Brand Page” for your business. As an individual, you can follow any business on Google+ and you can circle anyone that you encounter. Personal Profiles are public on G+ (but not everything that is shared by an individual). Brand Pages, however, can only Follow other businesses or Circle those who have circled them. One strategy is to Circle as many people as you can on your personal profile, post business content from your Page, and then “Share” the Page’s post from your personal profile. That gets the business content into your personal Circles. Just be careful not to overdo this technique.
3. Circles – Everything on Google+ is based on Circles. They are essentially categories for organizing your contacts. This is great for keeping personal things personal and business things professional. Each time you post or share content, you will be able to share it with only the Circles that you wish to. For instance, perhaps you’ve taken a lot of family pictures at a family reunion and you want to share those with family members who weren’t able to attend. Your professional contacts might not be interested in seeing your photo album of 175 pictures, so you can share the photos with only your “Family” Circles.
TIP: Remember our mantra – everything you ping, post, tweet, share, etc. speaks to who you are – as a person and as a business owner, so you may not want to post anything that wouldn’t be “okay” if it were seen by others, regardless of which Circles you share it with. Just because you can share it, doesn’t mean you should in all cases… (See also, “Privacy isn’t Private”)
BONUS: This is the growing superstar of Google+ – Hangouts/Hangouts on Air. The potential use for Hangouts and Hangouts On Air is overwhelming. If for no other reason than these will change the way you communicate with groups, you’ll want to play with this Google+ feature. Both personal and business use of this tool is sure to grow as people learn how to use the tool, but essentially this makes a reality of the “Jetsons” era of video calling and video conferencing with others – all at no charge. Webinars, video tutorials, family group conversations – the sky’s the limit with Hangouts. A recent example is a wedding that was aired over a Hangout for members of the family who couldn’t be there. The entire thing was aired and recorded so that long-distance relatives could be “present” and share their live comments with the wedding party! Dream big with this one….It’s going to be the quickest feature to gain popularity!
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