It seems that every day there’s a new social media tool vying for your attention. Heck, that might even be true, but until now there hasn’t been a new platform with the power to stay in the conversation with powerhouses Facebook and Twitter. That has changed with Google+. The online search giant’s fledgling social media network has had its ups and downs. But with the capability for companies to now add brand pages to Google+, the network has cemented its status as a big boy on the block. Don’t be hit with a case of social fatigue. Google+ is good for your small business and not just another distraction. Here’s why:
This is huge. Google gets about 1 billion unique monthly visitors and controls 80% of the online search market. The company is naturally incorporating “+1” activity (the Google+ equivalent of a “Like” on Facebook) into its algorithm and favoring those results. Businesses with a Google+ profile page that have a lot of followers (or users in their “Circles” in Google+ parlance) and +1 activity (either on status posts or from the +1 widget on a website) will be more likely to receive favorable placement in search results.
Dynamic Sharing Capabilities
When users follow your business on Google+ you categorize them into buckets, or Circles. Circles can be organized in all sorts of configurations: team members, customers, affiliates, etc. This allows you greater control of your social messaging. If you want a message to go out only to team members, you can do so. Want to offer a promotion to a specific set of customers? Create a Circle for them and post a status only that group will see. Being able to blast specific updates to specific people has powerful marketing potential.
Familiar Tools, New Business Possibilities
Some of the Google+ tools that are either still in their infancy or geared towards the personal aspect of the service have potential to be powerful business tools. One is Hangouts, a video chat feature that allows for video chats of up to 10 live Google+ members. Taken in the context of the business world, a Hangout has the potential to allow you to conduct free conference calls with remote team members or clients, and to conduct focus groups with a personal touch.
A relatively new tool that Google+ launched, Ripples, provides fascinating insight into the reach of status updates. Ripples essentially takes the sharing activity of your posts and provides you with a visual representation of how it has been distributed throughout the network. It’s a great new way to monitor your analytics and traffic without having to look at the same old boring line and bar graphs. Check out this link to get a demonstration of how Ripples works.
Fully Cover Your Social Media Bases
Most businesses have already firmly established a presence on Facebook and Twitter (and if you haven’t, you need to), so the temptation to ignore Google+ as just another piece of social network clutter is strong. Honestly, up until the recent release of business pages, ignoring it was easy. Now, though, the service is starting to make noise and will continue to do so as it upgrades its service and provides new offerings.
Social media (if done right) has provided an unparalleled marketing reach to the small business without much money to spend on promotional activities. Potential customers all have their preferred social media networks, and you need to get in front of them wherever you can. Like it or not, Google+ is now a force in social media marketing and needs to be reckoned with.
For more information, see our detailed piece on How To: Use Social Media to Promote Your Business.