I speak a lot about Google+ as a tool for business. In fact I’ve just written a book called “Google+ for Business Tweet” and I’m presenting a second Focus.com Roundtable in February. So you might think my position would be that Google+ is the be-all end-all social media network for business and people should be pitching their blogs and Facebook pages out the window in favor of Google+. And there you’d be mistaken.
Here’s the thing. Google+ is a social network with huge potential for businesses, but it’s best value is as an individual user, not a business page. If it had any of the following features it might be a contender, but as it is today? No way.
- A “vanity URL so you can direct customers to your page in print material or verbally. “Find me on Google+ at Google.com/SocialMediaCoach” would be one thing. But wh’s going to remember “https://plus.google.com/b/113284144259635347526/“???
- User interface editing abilities. If you’re good with using only the wall on your Facebook page, this might still work for you, but one of the ways Facebook has Google+ totally beat is the many ways you can interact with your followers. Custom landing pages, polling, events, insights into traffic and performance, now that would make a difference.
- Notifications. Managing a Google+ page is a bit easier now that you can add multiple admins, but getting an email or text alert that someone has reacted to a post , followed the page, or tried to contact you would be great.
- Integrated profiles. Currently there’s no way to know who is managing a Google+ page, and precious little on the “About” page. Give us a place for a call to action, a link to our Google Voice number please.
Now there’s more, but after all Google+ is still in beta, I’m cutting it some slack. They’re working on it and it keeps getting better and better. For now though, here’s how you CAN use it for your business.
Research and outreach
Needless to say, Google profiles are a huge resource for business. Who’s interested in your industry? Where are the influencers and groundbreaking technologists? Follow the best of the best and learn about what interests them. Take a look at the Ripples of some conversations to find even more influential Google+ users.
Building the brand of your company through the intelligence of your staff
You hire the best and the brightest right? Let them shine on Google+ and help build the brand identity of your company through your fabulous employees and their ideas. This includes the CEO, the marketing team and your engineers. Nothing proprietary of course, but perhaps there is a collaborative opportunity out there waiting to be discovered.
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You don’t have to have a business page to support your customers. Search Google+ for people talking about your business and reach out to them as a human person who wants to help. Now that’s something they will remember. Be genuine about it though, no Trojan horses allowed.
Schedule some hangouts with your staff to talk to real live customers and potential customers. .Show them who you are and what you’re thinking about. A relaxed environment like this can bring out the best questions and show you’re truly interested in the needs of your customers. Hanging out in somebody else’s hangout is also great. Don’t steal the show but be pleasant and useful. Add to the conversation and support the owner of the hangout.
Really Google+ might be a good replacement for your micro-blog. Post URLs here with a short comment or two. Got a quick thought but not the time to write an entire blog post? No problem, on Google+ you can shout out and ask others for their input.
Another way to use Chat and Hangouts is to share docs and screens within a Hangout with your team. If you work with a team spread out all over the world, this is a great way to inspire unity.
Last, but certainly not least, is the HUGE SEO value of a Google+ profile for individuals. If your CXOs set up profiles with links to your business with the right keywords it may really be one of the best traffic drivers you have. We’re still testing this theory, but it only makes sense that these profiles will be SEO gold.
So, what do you you think? Are you ditching your Facebook page for a Google+ business page yet? Will you? Why or why not?