Google+ has been with us for more than 2 years now, and still many brands consider it as a secondary fiddle to Facebook and Twitter.However, Google+ has improved a lot in the past 2 years adding and getting rid of a lot of features to make the user experience more immersive in the vast layer of Google services we use everyday. Many Brands had jumped on the Google+ bandwagon when the service was just introduced and their pages have been a barren land since then due to lack of vision/improper planning.If you are a Business or a Brand who is still looking to harness the power of Google+, you can look at the below aspects to ensure you have the right Google+ strategy from 2014 onwards for your Brand.
Now a days, your social media owned pages create your Brand’s online identity.The last thing a Google+ active user would want is a non branded & empty Google+ Brand page which was created 2 years ago and has no posts since.
The Google+ Branding includes making use of all the features which Google+ provides for Business Pages. Make sure your domain is linked with your Google+ page. Tagline and Introduction is also provided which acts as a gateway for new fans to find out more about you (Works like Facebook Pages ‘Info’ Tab). However, the Introduction Panel in Google+ offers Rich Text formatting options (including linkbacks to your websites for reference) which can be used to your advantage.The ‘Links’ section on the other hand can be highlighted for letting the Fans know that your Brand can also be followed on other social media networks and enable discovery about new products and offerings. Below is a good example of how ‘Zomato’ uses Google+ to highlight it’s offerings and enable discovery of their platform to the new audience who are visiting their Page for the first time.
Many of the Indian Brands i have seen are pasting the same content from Facebook (Some have even auto-scheduled tweets posted on their Google+ Pages) and lack any engagement strategy as far as Google+ is concerned. However, one thing which can be utilised if crafted perfectly and are exclusive for the Google+ users are .gif formats. According to the latest Social Media Statistics , over 300 Million active Users are reported on Google+ and animated GIF’s are the most engaging types of post found on Google+. You can always see one or the other .gif format post in the ‘Whats Hot’ section on Google+. If inline with the Brand messaging and humor, GIF’s can serve a hot topic of discussion revolving your brand (can be something on the current topic or your niche with a touch of humor added)
Utilise ‘Circles’ Intelligently:
Shared Circles can act as a discovery feature for your Business followers to connect not only with your Brand but also with people of similar interests. You can create a Circle highlighting your ‘Team Members’ who are managing your social media presence so that your customers can get in personal contact with them for some emergency issues and have a personal connect. You can segment your ‘Customers’ from ‘Potential Influencers’ and use the feature during public events of your Brand (If you are hosting a Hangout, distribute the circle of attendees for the event enabling a platform for them to know each other (via your Brand event)
Use Hangouts to Connect:
Seminars can be hosted using ‘Hangouts’ feature on a niche subject relevant to your Brand (Be it B2B or B2C). This without the expense of Travel and lodging will obviously be a cost effective solution which can work for you and help your community make relevant discussions and knowledge transfer. The ‘Hangouts on Air’ (HOA) feature can be used for live streaming your product demos and launches. The streaming can then be re-used on your YouTube Channel for distribution. The Reddit type ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) can also be a feature which can be embedded with Google Hangouts where you can tie up with a well know celebrity in your niche (or it can be the CEO of your own company) and help users directly connect & engage with your Brand.
Flipkart is one Brand which extensively uses Hangouts to connect customers to celebrities and utilise Google+ to it’s potential. However, they could have cross promoted their recent hangouts to their other social platforms (They do have a sizeable audience on Facebook & Twitter, so it makes sense to leverage those platforms accordingly) as well to increase the hype surrounding the same.
Participation in Google+ Communities:
Google+ Communities serve a great platform to connect and discuss over similar interests.There are two types of Communities on Google+ (Very Active or Very Much dead). You have to ensure that you choose the earlier one and participate in such communities (or create your own if there is no community relating to your niche of products). Crowdsourcing Ideas can be a great concept via your Google+ Community (Maybe a topic for the next Hangout you can organise on a specific subject). Just ensure you just don’t spam your links (as many of SEO guys still DO in Google+) but converse with others on a community
Ford which was one of the early adopters of the Platform has created a Ford Community where Ford owners can post photos of the Ford Cars they own (or love) and has an active participation for all the Brand enthusiasts.
SEO is going Social:
SEO and Social Media is being used interchangeably regularly as the days go by and Google+ being the brainchild of the largest search engine, it is being integrated in all of their services. Google Search is encapsulating Google+ factors in their results. Below is an example when you search for a Brand on Google and their respective recent Google+ posts are displayed along with the option to ‘Follow’ the brand on Google+
People who +1 the Brand or any content related to the website, their Circles are more likely to see the content/website rank higher in the search results. Here is a great piece by Mark Traphagen on how he achieved higher ranks in search for his consistent Google+ presence.
Google+ is testing Brands turning their Google Content on Display Ads network called +Post Ads. The Brand friendly format will turn their Google+ content (including Status Updates, Videos,Photos & Hangouts) and turn them in to display ads. As of now,Toyota USA and Cadbury UK are using these Ads in Beta and are experiencing better results over Industry average. It would be interesting when the +Post Ads is rolled out to be publicly available and how that might affect Brand adoption of Google+
Implement ‘Follow’ Widgets on your website to turn your website visitors to Google+ Followers. You can turn to Google Developers site and customise the Follow Code according to the structure of your website. The web Snippet Tool can also help you customise your content when it is being shared on Google+ by fellow Users (Something similar to Twitter Cards)
Google has reiterated many times, that they are treating Google+ as a social layer to their services and it is here to stay. And with a host of new features and integration with Google Services (Search,Android,Drive,YouTube) it would be criminal for Brands to not jump in and reap profits out of this social platform. With Facebook making it difficult for Brands to reach out to their own Fans and letting them pay for it, it would be interesting to see if Brands do go for a Google choice social network.
What methodologies would you recommend for Brands to succeed in Google+ starting 2014? Thoughts and Feedback welcome on the article