When Google launched Google+ in June 2011, it was all the internet was talking about.
But just two months later, traffic to Google+ dropped and its merits as the next big social platform were hotly contested.
While the Google guys came up with several ways to incorporate neat features, they completely forgot about presentation and user experience. Sure, they had over 400 million registered users, but only a quarter of those registered users are active.
Last year, the integration of Google Plus with YouTube (forcing YouTube users to have a Google Plus account) artificially added hundreds of millions of supposed users, who actually spend little or no time using the platform.
What are the real benefits of having a presence on Google+? And how does that impact your content strategy?
1. Target your content towards different audiences using circles
The way we interact with different groups of people (family, friends, prospects, clients, business partners, etc.) is obviously demarcated in terms of tone and behaviour.
You wouldn’t backslap a client, share a personal secret with your boss or exchange business cards with your best friend for instance.
It allows you to categorize and target all these different groups according to your businesses’ preferences and needs. You can make specific groups for customers, VIPs, prospects, clients, etc. allowing you to organize your target audience better.
Sharing specific posts only within a circle will let you keep track of effective and ineffective strategies.
Adding people to different circles lets you filter content for you and your audience when updates are exchanged or read. The status update feature in Google+ also lets you publicize your key messages.
New updates automatically show up at the top of your stream after you log in, and new comments appear automatically when people comment.
But why does this all matter?
Whether you want to increase brand awareness or maximize ROI on response campaigns, your challenge is to deliver relevant info to the right person, who in turn, might share it with their own set of circles.
2. Multiple Google services are integrated, which can be advantageous
Toward the end of last year, it became clear that Google+ is much more than an excellent content sharing platform.
After all, Google’s search engine is built on the premise that content with more sites linking back to it deserves to be ranked higher.
Don’t just make your post look more valuable by attaching an image, video or a web link to the text-based status update. Include the +1 button on your blog so that our readers can easily recommend your content.
Exploit the opportunities for cross-product integration by incorporating all Google products like Picasa, YouTube, etc. in Google+.
3. Look like a pro: use hangouts to show the real people behind your brand
With video chat’s increasing popularity, there’s a clear opportunity to connect directly with your customers with Hangouts, virtual live events, webinars, webcerts, Q&A sessions, product demos and customer service calls.
Hangouts allow up to 9 people per chat session, which makes them a great hosting option for online meetings.
And having a real person on the other side of the camera will create a more personalised experience between you – the people behind the brand – and your followers.
4. Post timely and relevant content on Google+
Your G+ strategy might be very different from your Twitter and Facebook marketing strategies. While Facebook works better for keeping in touch with your existing customers, Google Plus can give you the unique chance to reach out to prospects who never would find you there.
And if you’re unsure of the type of content your audience would like to read more often, why not just ask them? Plenty of communities you can find an answer. Unlike Twitter and other platforms, you do not have the character limit restriction.
5. Promotions, contests and special offers
Each individual member of your audience loves to feel special. What better way than to create that feeling with special offers, deals or promotions via a Google+ page?
Contests on Google+ are prohibited by Google, but there’s no harm in linking to external sites. For example, this is how Android does it:
At first, it can be a daunting task to navigate a new social media forum, but Google+ pages designed for businesses. They are free, simple to set up, and and they can have great reach by the standards and goals you set.
Google+ is on the move, giving rise to a need for testing and getting the attention of the brand. It is especially powerful for sharing content, connecting with your target audience, nurturing leads and building authority.
Tap into this exciting time to explore how Google+ works and how it can make a difference to the way your brand connects with your customers.