Google+ Business Overview

  |   Insights, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Website Development   |   No comment

Using Facebook for business has finally gone mainstream. Entrepreneurs and CEOs are seeing the power of social media, and networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are being leveraged for their marketing and branding benefits.

Then Google+ (G+) came along and—depending on who you ask—either cluttered up the social network sphere or enhanced social media marketing. But in the end, it’s just another site to invest time in, right?

Yes and no. Google+ has the potential to provide businesses with more of a social edge than other networks can give. At the same time, it’s hard to use a social media network to its fullest when its members are all-too quiet, and many G+ users have been less active on the site as time passes.

However, as Google further integrates G+ into its search infrastructure, the network becomes harder to ignore. At the very least, businesses should claim their branded pages and see if their target demographics are active on the site. Yes, it will require an investment of time, first to learn about the site, then to create your page, but the arguments for having a G+ presence are compelling.

As more companies compete for online consumer attention, targeted marketing will be increasingly valuable, and harder for consumers to tune out. Google’s circles—their way of allowing you to organize who you follow—enables users (and pages) to send out messages to very specific segments of their follower base. The drawback? A user has to “circle” your page before you can circle them back. Still, this is one step ahead of Facebook, where pages cannot create lists or target their status updates as finely.

Not only can you segment to your circles, but once someone is in a page’s circle, that user can be directly mentioned or tagged in a post, using the “+[username]” function. This ability to directly mention users takes a page out of Twitter’s book—while pairing this communicative flexibility with the robust profile Facebook-esqe features that social networkers have come to expect. Directly mentioning followers is an excellent way of building brand goodwill and thanking your brand ambassadors, and is something still unavailable to Facebook pages.

Still, having a page and being able to take advantage of its cool utilities isn’t helpful if consumers and brand advocates can’t find said page in the first place. Enter…social search. Google and YouTube are two of the most trafficked search engines online, and both are being integrated with the G+ platform through the [+1] button. Similar to Facebook’s [like] button, the [+1] enables fans to show their support for a status update or post. However, Google takes that endorsement one step further, adding those social results to their traditional searches. For example, if someone searches for “Orange County social media management,” and one of their G+ connections has [+1]’d or shared one of the pages that shows up in the search, that connection’s “endorsement” will show up below that results entry. And if anything will entice a consumer to a brand page, it’s a virtual thumbs-up from someone they know.

Google has taken another step towards G+ page discoverability, called Google Direct Connect. This program has two features. First, by inserting a code snippet into your website, you can link that site to your G+ personal profile, thus showing yourself (and your G+ avatar) in Google’s organic search results for your page. While this can have some implications for businesses, the larger benefit is in Google’s direct search function. Once a page is signed up for direct connect, any Google searcher can type “+[business name]” and be taken directly to the G+ page—no more search engine results page that may or may not exclusively feature your business. This is another distinct advantage over Facebook, where multiple pages and questionable search results can often make it hard for Facebookers to find the correct company page.

Convinced yet? Ready to take that next step? Check back here for a Google+ page-building tutorial. Better yet, add our blog to your RSS feed and have all the posts delivered to your inbox or reader of choice.

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