With 400 million users on Google+, and more than 1 million business and brand pages created in just six months, Google+ has to be taken seriously. So now is the time to get your Google+ page together and start reaping the benefits.
To help you, we've gathered some tips from search engine optimization and social marketing pros, as well as those using the site to promote their brands and stores to show you how to market your business with Google+.
Kathy DalPra with Bride Appeal says she's had success with Google+ early on, including getting a call directly from the Google+ team asking her to share her success tips and insights with the staff. They even have her on their shortlist of most influential brands in the wedding market. DalPra's tips follow.
5 tips from a niche expert
1. Be consistent. "I started on Google+ early on, when it was still a by-invitation-only network," she says. "Since then, my focus wasn't to make it a time-consuming marketing habit, but a consistent place for connection and community. By being a consistent presence on the network, I've garnered a lot of attention in my niche industry because I'm one of the most visible brands newcomers see when they join the network."
2. Use keywords in your page description. "One of the simple things that I got right early on was utilizing industry keyword terms that I knew my ideal followers would type into the Google+ searches to find other individuals and brands to connect to," DalPra notes. "Because of this, my profile appears in their searches, increasing my visibility and attracting new followers to my page each day."
If your business page or personal profile is incomplete, visitors will assume you aren't a legitimate leader to pay attention to
3. Complete your personal and business profiles. "This tip may seem obvious, but I am continually amazed at how few brands really finish the setup process," she adds. "Prospective fans will look you up before they follow you. It's a fact. If your business page or personal profile is incomplete, they'll assume that your presence on Google+ is intermittent at best and that you aren't a legitimate leader to pay attention to.
"They'll wind up skipping over your page, which prevents you from ever converting them from fan to buyer," she continues. "For this reason, you need to make sure that you fill in every available field that's pertinent to you, including your profile picture, cover photo, profile description and 'about' details. That goes for both your business and personal pages because they may examine both."
4. Tell your networks about your page. "I'm surprised by how many online businesses start a Google+ page, but don't let anyone know about it," DalPra says. "I regularly remind my followers on other social networks, as well as on Google+, that I have a page and what benefits they'll receive by connecting with it. You have to keep it about your audience or they won't take action. Find a compelling reason why they might want to connect with you on Google+ and use that to entice them over."
5. Start a public community. "An easy way to gain visibility and traction for your Google+ page is to gather a specific audience together for open dialogue and support through a public community," she notes. "Because communities are more like open forums than brand pages, gathering a following is a bit easier. Members are there to network and share ideas in an ad-free, mutually beneficial environment, so it's not the right forum to promote your stuff.
"However, as you participate regularly in the discussion, you'll become a valued resource and members will naturally follow your page in due time," DalPra adds. "If your Google+ page name is your business name, remember to sign your name at the end of your comment so members will know who is conversing with them."
5 tips from a marketing professor
Elyse Blouin is a professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who also manages a Google+ page for a company with more than $500 million in revenue. Her suggestions follow.
1. Focus on building a community. This tip is similar to DalPra's, which highlights just how important community building is on the site. Blouin suggests you ask open-ended questions, engage with your audience and provide content that is posted exclusively on Google+.
By defining groups, you are able to segment your audience to ensure your messages are appropriate for each group
People are not on social media to make a purchase, and will be more likely to interact with a brand when they feel they can contribute to the conversation, and interact directly with real people behind the brand and other followers. People are typically scared away by hard-selling and posting only about your products and services.
2. Post coupon or offer codes that are exclusive to Google+. This drives people to your page, and then gets them to take action in real life by going to your website or calling directly to order a product or service, or physically come into your business to redeem the coupon.
Using a unique coupon code also helps you to track what traffic is being sent from Google+ so you can optimize your strategy over time.
3. Build different circles on Google+. Some groups may be more responsive to offers and promotions, or product/service updates than others. By defining groups, you are able to segment your audience to ensure your messages are appropriate for each group, and you can tailor your posts accordingly.
4. Encourage current customers. Ask shoppers to post testimonials, photos and videos on Google+ showing they are happy customers.
5. Share links to your website on Google+. Sites posted on Google+ are thought to rank more prominently on Google, which makes it more likely that someone will find your site when doing a search for your product or service in your area—a great way to drive consumers to your website and increase sales!
Don't forget about contests
Finally, Zane Schwarzlose, an Internet marketer with Fahrenheit Marketing, has found that having a contest where customers take pictures of themselves using whatever product or service you're marketing and then share them to your Google+ business page can put a personal face on whatever you're selling.
People visiting your Google+ business page will be able to see your products in the real world, next to real smiling customers.
For further information check out Google's Google+ Business page.