We’ve all heard the jokes:
“Google+ is a ghost town.”
“Only Google employees use Google+.”
Ha ha. Well, the joke’s over, my friends. If you care about content marketing, search engine optimization, Google Authorship and communicating with your audience, Google+ has become essential, and you ignore it at your peril. A social networking and identity service owned by Google, with more than 540 million active users, Google+ has been described as a “social layer” that enhances many of Google’s products.
Remember that Google owns Gmail, YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Images, Google Drive, GoogleDocs, Google Search and others. And we know that Google’s Search algorithm especially likes content that originates in Google+.
Eventually, if you ignore Google+, Google Search will ignore you. So said Google co-founder Larry Page, according to marketing and social media expert B.L. Ochman in this excellent article for Social Media Today.
I admit I was skeptical when Google first launched G+. I thought it was a feeble attempt by Google to clone Facebook. I was wrong. Very wrong. Today I find G+ to be invaluable for networking, learning, sharing and content marketing.
I love the Communities and participate regularly in discussions with various groups, including podcasters, independent communicators and fellow members of associations. I use Hangouts all the time, and even published a Hangout on Air (and an audio podcast) about Google+ with B.L. Ochman.
Here’s how to get started with Google+:
- Before you create your profile, know why you want to be there and what you want to accomplish.
- Create a complete Google+ profile. Fill in the About section. Add a nice headshot and cover photo.
- Name your Circles and then add contacts to these Circles. You can then share info with certain Circles, or read the activity stream from various Circles.
- Post regular updates. In these updates, use #hashtags to improve your findability via Google Search.
- Learn to format your updates. For example, an asterisk at the beginning and end of a group of words will bold them.
- Remember Google+ is a very image-friendly place; use photos, infographics and other visuals to your advantage.
- Add other multimedia, such as SoundCloud audio, which offers a player in G+. (You can see an example in the image above.)
- Join Google+ Communities and participate in the discussions.
- Be sure to try out Google Hangouts, which offer rich features to enhance your online communications.
- As B.L. Ochman reminded me, Google has changed its Search algorithms; engagement really matters! Try to post great content that encourages shares and +1s (Google’s version of a “like”).
What has been your own experience with Google+ so far?
If you want to learn more about social media to improve your own marketing efforts, check out my Hands-on Social Media Workshop on March 28 in Toronto. We’ll explore Google+ as well as the other major social media tools.
Donna’s G+ cover photo credit: Kurt Kragh Sørensen (at the IntraTeam event in Copenhagen, March 2013)