How Your Business Can Get an A+ on Google+
Google's social network hasn’t provided Facebook with the competition that many thought it would when Google+ was first announced, but its importance as a social media avenue towards Web success cannot be denied. Fortunately, some best practices have begun to emerge in recent months.
Below are some of the strategies that may give your Web enterprise an advantage over the competition when utilizing Google+, which should be a priority for any online company that is not yet doing so.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Google+ and competing social networks is the Circles feature, and the most successful brands have been able to optimize the management of their Circles. The purpose of Circles is to organize contacts into helpful groups based on different characteristics, and by segmenting a company's contacts into Circles, that business is able to manage who sees what messages. This provides one way to establish trust and loyalty with users, and you will most likely find them more involved with your content and engaging with your company's G+ page more often as a result.
Segmentation can be done by location, interest, relation to your business or any number of other criteria. The important thing is to make sure that you manage your circles in such a way that content will be relevant to one or more of these groups.
Social media is an important part of every business' Web presence in 2012, but the ultimate goal is to get users back onto your company's website. This is especially important if you’re connecting with users on Google+ because the site doesn’t yet allow vanity URLs, making certain sites difficult to find through this channel if the user is not yet familiar with a company.
Google+ does provide a simple set of codes and buttons so that users can link to your site through G+, and you can easily access this information by going to the “Get Started” option beneath your company's name and/or avatar on the Google+ home page.
One underrated feature of Google+ is the ability to add links to your “About” page and that they are highly customizable. Business owners can add links by clicking the “Edit Profile” option and going to the "About" tab.
When you add a link to the “Recommended Links” option, you will be able to also include a title that tells the user where they will be directed. You can use this space to send users to your other social media profiles, your primary website or other relevant sites that they may find useful, and you can tag these links however you’d like.
The only design elements that companies control over their brand pages on Google+ are profile pictures and the five Scrapbook Photos at the top of the page. This allows brands to express their creativity, share a little about the company and, most importantly, build an online identity.
The most important thing a business can do with any social media campaign is to provide meaningful information to users by inviting interaction. This means posting engaging content that will both interest and inform users while creating a sense of trust and familiarity with the brand or company. Website owners should also be interacting with users and responding to their comments, good and bad.
Another way to invite engagement is by establishing a voice as an expert in a particular industry. Share your own content and other valuable information via links, photos and videos on Google+. With Circles, website owners can create a “Suggested” group of important people and companies around their industries to share with users. Whether these methods garner attention from colleagues or customers, they will likely provide business owners with insightful feedback and information.