Google+ for business: What you need to know

What does the launch of Google+ Pages mean for your business?

Google+ is targeting the business audience with the launch of ‘business pages’. But if you’re already using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your business, is it really worth devoting resources to yet another social media platform? We take a closer look.

What is it?

With competition coming from all quarters along with an initial failed attempt to enter the social media space with Buzz, Google went back to the drawing board. In June 2011, Google+ was born and from a standing start amassed almost 20 million users in its first few weeks. Unlike Facebook, Google+ was not open to companies, until now. Google+ Pages, also referred to as Google+ Business Pages was launched to all companies on Wednesday 8 November 2011.

Why is it important?

As Google looks to aggressively launch itself into the social media arena, it is important to understand that Google+ sits on the same network that powers the biggest search engine in the world – Google.

Secondly, it is also important to obtain and claim your company page, just as you would a domain name.

Though these two reasons are important in their own right, most companies will embrace Google+ because of the potential influence the social network will have on search results on Google.

Alongside search, Google+ will allow you to start developing deeper relationships with prospects and clients, and add them to different groups or ‘circles’. (You can group your network into customers, VIPs, team members, and people/organisations you are following).

Unlike Facebook pages, you can also start a video chat (or ‘hangout’) with up to 10 people, enabling you to answer customer queries or hold virtual meetings face-to-face via a webcam. You can also share notes, sketches, Google Docs or even your screen.

This level of engagement will become crucial as the digital landscape shifts and enhances more traditional routes of marketing.

How easy is it to set up?

It is a fairly simple set-up though being new, Google+ may have a few challenges when it comes to the administration side of things. This said, it is a fairly painless series of steps. Here’s a quick guide:

1. Set up a Gmail account

If you have a personal Gmail account, it may be worth setting up a new account that you are willing to share with colleagues who can help administer the account alongside yourself.

2. Start creating your page

There is an easy set-up wizard and this allows you to go through the process step by step. You can skip these steps and take time to fill them in at greater length after initial set-up.

3. Add your company logo

Branding and customising your Google+ page will help users find and associate with you easier.

4. Start engagement

Promoting your site will be key. Before you start the promotion process, help promote others and start looking at pages, articles etc that you can ‘+’ with your new account. This may be an industry body, another social network or an article that is relevant to your company or business.

5. Promote further

Optimising your page further will add even more value to your Google+ page. Adding any company videos or pictures will help and it’s very easy to do – simply drag and drop. Following the guidelines with the set-up process will give you more ideas. Don’t forget to link your YouTube account to your Google+ page

6. Do it!

Don’t leave it too long to set up your page. The land grab is happening and your digital footprint will be important as the growth of both internet and social networks grow.

Will it increase my sales?

On the Google+ pages homepage the mantra is ‘share, promote & measure’. As with any platform, especially social media, the goal should not be sales but engagement. With strong content and engagement the by-product will be a deeper contact with existing customers and new prospects. This in turn should lead to new customers.

For more on how to make the most of your Google+ page click here.

Reggie James is managing director of Digital Clarity, a leading search and social media agency, and executive director, senior VP marketing and communications of RTG Ventures Inc

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