Just a week after Google announced what they referred to as “game changing” features for Google+, I discovered a post from Sarah Hill on my Google+ stream that caught my eye:
Ignore Google+? Sorry Alisha, but we disagree.
Let’s break the article down.
Not having a full-time social media staffer means focusing resources where the customers are. To be the most efficient, she recommended beginning with Twitter and Facebook because they have the most users.
Yes, as a small business, you should be smart about using the limited resources you have and spend time in social where it makes the most sense for your business’ goals. For brewers little known Untappd can be a valuable social network. If you’re a merchant, Fancy may be a valuable social network for you. Starting a Twitter account or Facebook page simply because “they have the most users” isn’t a good enough reason. Especially because some reports have Google+ at 359 million active users, bumping Twitter from the second spot for largest social network. And it’s growing.
Take a moment to sit down and establish your business goals. Then come up with a social media plan that will help you achieve them. It’s about fit and your customer, not the numbers.
Hint: Do not ignore Google+.
Don’t waste your time on Google+, unless you’re a tech company… most of the users are male who work in technology. So, if your customers aren’t there, you don’t need to be there.
Your “customers” may not be on Google+, but they are on Google. So while you may not be utilizing Google+ for the social network features, you should be using Google+ for the search integration alone — tech company or not. Search is expanding to far more than just 10 blue links and Google+ is the key to personalization.
Business-to-business operations should give more attention to LinkedIn because that’s where more professional connections are occurring.
For B2B companies, LinkedIn is a good way to network. It allows you to connect with professionals in your industry. But attempting to engage beyond connecting with individuals is much harder on LinkedIn than it is on Google+. And there are no search integration features built-in to LinkedIn like there are for Google+.
Still with me? We’ll cover the search integration features shortly.
Hint: Do not ignore Google+.
She warned companies against worrying about using “the next best thing” when customers aren’t. Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram and other forms of social media may be very powerful for some markets, she said. The trick is finding out where your company fits into all of that — not just starting a new company account for the sake of it.
This may be the only part of the article that I agree with. As mentioned earlier, sit down and think about your goals.
- What do you want to accomplish with social?
- Who are your target customers, personas, and audience members that can relate to the products/services that you have to offer?
- How will you engage with these people to help accomplish those business goals?
- Which social networks make the most sense to build a presence on given the resources I have available to me?
- Why would someone want to engage with you on social?
The one social network that I would, and do, recommend for all clients is… you guessed it! Google+. For search integration features alone.
Why you shouldn’t ignore Google+
- Google Plus posts are showing up in the SERPs:
- Helps your content stand out from the crowd
- Google authorship
- More real estate in the SERPs
While authorship and rich snippets aren’t ranking factors, both help drive traffic to your site and increase click through rates. Look at this SERP for the query “google cover” … which results are your eyes drawn to? The listings with pictures beside them.
Authorship photos (tied to your Google+ account) create contrast in the SERPs by taking up more real estate on the page. They also make your result more visual and appealing to searchers. I have no doubt that having authorship properly connected to my Google+ profile has helped this post rank for several phrases similar to “google plus cover”. This post has more than 38,750 pageviews.
Here’s another example.
Our senior mobile developer Jon wrote a post outlining a fix for Android Studio in Windows 7 or 8 just after Google I/O announced the new Android Studio IDE. If you search “android studio not working” in Google, here’s the results page.
What area of the page are your eyes automatically drawn to?
The result with the bright green background, right? We call that the “authorship” background. It’s sort of a joke around the office, but in all seriousness, it works. It’s like a car accident… you can’t not look at it. Since pushing that post on May 15, we’ve seen nearly 6,500 pageviews on that post from search and have received lots of “thank yous” and comments from grateful readers.
Google authorship is tied to a Google+ account, which means that this author is a human. Google likes humans. This means that you’re not hiding behind a logo — you are a real person, and that establishes credibility and trust.
- Personalized recommendationsContent that is +1’d or shared by those in your circles will appear under search results.
- Google Plus Business Pages + Google Places = LocalConnected Google+ business pages can show in the SERPs alongside results. Users can follow your business page direct from the SERP and see a few of your most recent posts without ever visiting your Google+ Business Page.
- Google Maps
- Sharing content on Google+ can be delivered straight to email inboxes
- Interactive posts and CTA buttons
- Hangouts on air and live recordings posted directly to YouTube (the second largest search engine according to Google, and another way to rank in universal search)
- Deliver relevant content to circles you customize
- Comment as page/brand
- Create and manage communities
- Recommended posts on mobile
- Power searching (you can’t do this on Facebook)
- Content discovery through hashtags and related content
One thing for sure is that Google+ is not going anywhere. The roll out may have been a little clunky, but it’s been almost two years since it first launched and we’ve only seen it be deeper integrated in search.
So, whether you think Google+ is “the next big thing” or not, the search features alone are features that you just can’t ignore. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you want to help improve your visibility in search engines, please do not ignore Google+.
Like this post? Well, you know what to do … follow us on Google+!
Here we have it, if this facts doesn’t convince you of the power of G+ nothing will.