In less than a month after launching its beta roll-out, Google+ has garned 25 million unique visitors. To get some sense of how quickly the Googleplex’s latest offering is attracting new eyeballs, consider this: Twitter took 30 months to reach this kind of audience and Facebook took a full 35 months. What does this mean for your business’ social media strategy?
The rapid growth of Google+ demands that you pay attention to it. After all, 1 million new users a day is nothing to sneeze at. But while the search giant’s social media outlet is important, it’s still the new kid on the block. And as such, there’s a lot of uncharted territory and uncertainty about what the future will hold. Here’s some pointers for how to make use of Google+ while it’s still in beta:
- Don’t over invest. I hate to start with a negative, but this one’s important. Google+ is cool, growing fast and has lots of potential ... but it’s still small comparatively. If you’ve only got so much time during the day to invest in social media, then put the majority of that time where it counts. You know where your customers are -- don’t leave them hanging by spending too much time on Google+. Besides, once the business pages roll out, you’ll have to start all over again (see next point).
- Let your customers get to know the face behind the business. Since Google has imposed a ban on business pages for the moment, everything your business does on Google+ must be done as, well, yourself. (Sidenote: Google is making preparations to allow businesses to have accounts, forecasted by VentureBeat for sometime in Q3 2011). While this could be seen as a negative, I believe there’s great potential to connect with your customer base in a truly relational way. Make it clear to your customers that your personal Google account is not just a front for your business. Be a real person with them. Share hobbies, music you love, what restaurant you ate at recently, etc. As you connect in this way, you’re likely to develop a greater rapport and to build goodwill for your business because it’s no longer a faceless entity. It’s you. And you're now a friend.In this regard, here’s a great quote from Mat Honan at Gizmodo:
“I'd argue that the most successful people and brands using social media are precisely the ones who are the most real, and the most deeply personal. Reveal something about yourself, even if it's that you are an idiot, and people will follow. For a social network to work, it has to be fascinating and fun.”
- Connect with your remote team. One of the strengths of Google+ is the varying ways you can communicate. From video chats (termed “hangouts”) to wall conversations to group mobile chats, all lend themselves to ease of interaction. And while it’s all great, the “circles” feature is what really takes Google+ to the next level. You can separate your contacts into various social groups, termed “Circles”. Then when you want to share a link, photo or what you had for dinner, choose which circle(s) to disseminate the info to. No more worrying about whether or not to “friend” your remote team coworkers. Just put them in the “Remote Team” circle and then make use of all those great conversation features. I think Google+ has the potential of fostering a more connected and engaged remote team. You're now able to easily interact via social media, no special programs needed. Have fun together, converse, share ... yet still keep your private and business lives separate. (If anyone has used Google+ with their remote team, I'd love to hear more about it for a future blog post.)
- Utilize for SEO. There’s a lot of buzz out there about what Google+ means for SEO. At this point, no one knows for certain. But there are a few ways you can make use of the now ubiquitous “+1” icon to promote your website.
- First, use Google’s webmaster tools to help promote your website. Add a +1 button on your pages so that people can recommend your website as a valuable source of info in search results.
- Second, make use of the callback mechanism. There are lots of ways to implement this (watch this interview with Google’s Timothy Jordan for more on that), but one idea is to put the +1 on actual product pages. Then as users recommend various products, use that info to customize suggestions for other products they might be interested in.
- Finally, when you make public comments on your Google+ page, Google appears to index those and add them to search results. So consider Google+ another blogging platform and keep the info you share relevant, interesting and keyword friendly.
I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg on what Google+ means to your business. Stay tuned for more posts on the subject once the business profiles become active. Until then, do you have any tips for making use of Google+ for business purposes? If so, share them in the comment section below.