A few months ago, when Google+ came out, we told you a little bit about it even though it wasn’t time for businesses to start building their brand pages quite yet. (If you missed that article and you’re unfamiliar with the basics of Google+, we suggest you go back and check it out so you’ll know what we’re talking about today.) Now that the networking site is properly optimized to meet the needs of businesses with Google+ Pages, it’s go time, people.
Google+ brand pages look a whole lot like a Facebook fan page with images at the top, a list of followers displayed down the side of the page, and a place to post messages/status updates, etc. But, Google+ has some cool things that make it different from Facebook.
For example, Google+ Pages allow users to recommend brands by using the +1 button:
That button functions similarly to the Facebook “Like” button. By clicking on the +1 button, you aren’t automatically signed up to get updates from a particular brand. You have to opt-in for that by adding the brand to your circles. So, users have more control over how much or how little they interact with your business.
But you have control too! With the circles feature, you can create different circles and sort your fans/followers into different groups. So, if you have a particularly loyal group of followers, you can create a special circle to put them in so that only those people get special offers from you. Likewise, you can make an introductory offer just to your new people. This gives you tons of options when you’re running a promotion or you want to target specific content to a specific segment of your clientele. Google+ Pages allows you to have even more focused and intimate interactions with people.
Speaking of interacting with customers, the Google+ Hangouts feature is pretty slick. Remember when we talked about holding seminars a couple of weeks ago? This might be an interesting way to do that. And with the integration of Google Docs into Hangouts, you can even share documents with your attendees! But that’s not all! Hangouts can also be great for a face-to-face alternative to traditional customer service calls. If you can’t be in the same room with your customers, this is the next best thing.
But one of Google+’s biggest strengths lies in the fact that it reaches a much larger audience than Facebook. When you use Facebook, it’s fairly contained within the walls of that network. Google+ content, on the other hand, is directly relevant to search results which means that all of your +1’s will reach not only the 40 million or so people who use Google+, but also all the people who use Google every day.
That’s a lot of people, and if you’re trying to build up your web presence, Google+ can certainly help you do that.
This isn’t at all an exhaustive list of what Google+ has to offer as opposed to Facebook, but it’s some food for thought just in case you’re considering starting a page.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you’d even use a Google+ brand page. After all, you’ve already got a Facebook page, right? You’ve already invested lots of time into that, so why would you start a Google+ page and what on earth would you do with it if you did? Well, one argument for starting one in addition to your Facebook efforts is that more brands are appearing on Google+ every day. You want to beat your competitors to it, if you can. You should also get in on the ground floor before all kinds of new features are added and it becomes more difficult to learn your way around.
After you’ve started your page, and filled out your profile completely, don’t feel badly if you don’t know what to do once you get there. Many brands haven’t quite figured that part out yet either. Some even go so far as to ask their followers what they’d like to see them do on Google+! There’s no shame in asking your fans for feedback—after all they’re the ones who make this whole shebang worth doing!
Another good way to help you remedy the “we’re here, now what?” situation is to write out what you might be able to accomplish with some of Google+’s features and develop a strategy to go along with it. Have you been wishing you could send a special offer to only a few customers, but lacked a good way to do it? This could be a pretty cool way to do that. Plus, it’ll make you look like a social media rock star—rockin’ the Google+ pages while everyone else is still depending only on Facebook.
At this point, we’re not going to say that Google+ is the best thing ever, but it’s got some really neat features that you could take advantage of and we think it’s definitely worth going over and starting an account to play around with. Besides, we’re there! Come hang out with the cool kids and don’t forget to add us to your circles!