This post was originally written by Nadine Long.
Google+ opened up a new service for businesses and brands, Google+ Pages, last week. Many businesses tried to set up G+ pages when the network launched in July and had their Pages deleted (Google was only allowing personal accounts), so there’s clearly a business marketing interest in the networking platform. But if you’re not ESPN or The New York Times, what’s the advantage of being on Google+? Will you just get lost in the shuffle?
Why you should be on Google+
The major reason to set up a page on Google+ is consumer connection. In September, the network had about 50 million members – a far cry from Facebook’s 800 million and even Twitter’s 200 million – but not bad for five months of existence.
For businesses, Google+ has an edge: it’s searchable in a way that Facebook has yet to master. For example, a search for “storage unit” pulls up any public Google+ posts and pages that mention the phrase. You can filter by People and Pages, G+ Posts and more to find ways to interact with consumers looking for your product. Using keywords in your own posts could help boost interest in your Page, too, if someone is searching for industry-specific information within Google+.
Perhaps the biggest advantage businesses get from joining Google+ is in terms of search ranking. If a user searches for something that one of their G+ connections has +1ed (+1s are the Google+ equivalent of Facebook’s Likes), that connection’s +1 result shows up in the first page of search results. It’s essentially word-of-mouth marketing online. Also, if consumers search for your brand with a + in front of it, they’ll reach your branded page result.
Setting Up Your Page
Right now, G+ Pages function the same way as personal pages. You can post photos, links, videos and information about your business, but there’s not really more to do than on a standard page (yet).
You can still really make Pages work for you, though. Making your Page rich in information and content is important. Google+’s status update box packs in simple YouTube integration and a great integrated photo editing tool so that you can easily edit photos before you post them.
G+ Pages also give you the ability to host Hangouts, which are large chats with other members. Businesses could hold informational hangouts that answer consumer questions. It’s also a great, free way to share the human face of your company with potential customers.
If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, Social Media in 7 Minutes has a great introductory video that shows, step-by-step, how to create a business Page on G+.
Make the Most of Your Network
Google+ gives you the ability to control your branding and the way you present yourself to customers. Not all customers are necessarily going to make it to your website, but they might come across your G+ profile. If they do access your regular site and +1 your business, the +1s will reflect on your G+ brand page. One of the best ways to get +1s from visitors to your site is to implement a G+ badge, which G+ makes easy.
After you’re done with your Page, you can take a moment to set up a Google+ Badge for your company’s site. Badges are widgets that encourage site visitors to +1 your site without having to leave it for Google+.
Badges can be created here.
As mentioned before, the more +1s you get, the more likely you’ll show up higher in a G+ user’s search results.
Why You Should Get There Now
This interesting post on Datamation points out that the early bird gets the worm when it comes to social media. Brands like CNN and The New York Times were early Twitter adopters, and they’re joining G+ now, too. A smaller business doesn’t have the same legion of social media resources to unleash, but having a page that’s well-maintained will go a long way as G+ gains more traction.
Google+ has even set up its own Page titled Google+ Your Business with tips, hangouts and more for businesses interested in getting the most out of their Google+ Page.
More great resources:
Why You Need Google Plus Pages For Business ASAP - Black Box Social Media
If you want to get more in-depth, SEOMoz has a really informative post about how to use Google +’s Ripple tool to track public sharing of posts.