Google+ for Business: An Introduction

As a business owner there are many reasons why you should learn about Google+ Pages for Business.  This provides your business with presence on Google+ and use it in a variety of ways to promote your products/services, interact with customers and prospects and take advantage of all the things Google+ has to offer.  Read on to get the skinny on what Google+ Pages are all about.

Difference between a Google+ Profile and a Google+ Page

The basic element of using Google+ has been creating a Profile which is a personal account that allows you to share information and interact with their users. It wasn’t possible for you to create a presence for your business…until now. With the recent release of Pages it is now possible to use the many features that you’ve come to love about Google+ and use them in ways to attract and engage your customers.

Pages look and operate in a very similar way to Profiles so there isn’t a new learning experience to have to go through if you are already used to Google+ through Profiles. So for example there are Circles, Hangouts, the ability to share photos, videos, links, and other content you want your customers to read.

It is very easy to create a Page and you will see a link on the right side of your Home page under the heading of Google+ Pages which allows you to start the Page creation process.

There are 5 categories to choose from when creating your page:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution, or Organisation
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other 

Once you’ve created your Page you can customise it in very similar ways to the way you would have created your Profile with the ability to post a photo or logo, enter a 10 word tag line and fill out other information about your business and links to your website/blog.  Take the time to do this as this is a shop window for your business so you want to make it as attractive as possible for your followers and customers.

What are the key features of Google+ for Business Pages?

When you are using the Page everything you do on Google+ will show as being from the Page and not from your personal Profile. The kinds of things you can do as a Page are:

  • Engage with other Google+ users by +1’ing content, commenting, resharing posts.  This engagement is at the heart of any social network and is a good way to raise your Page’s visibility and attract people to your content.
  • Start and Join Hangouts. This is a great way to interact with your customers face-to-face online and is one of the unique elements of Google+ compared to other social networks.

  • Mention people in posts and comments (who’ve already added or mentioned you)

Tips for promoting your Google+ for Business Page

So just creating a Page and interacting with others isn’t enough so you know need to take active steps to promote your Page. These are some tips for doing this:

Keep your content fresh and post regularly. People are more likely to visit and engage on your page if you are posting useful content on a regular basis.

  • Spread the word. Use this feature from your Page which is located on the right side of your page to promote your page to your Circles to make them aware. When you do this the post will appear from your Personal Profile and not as the Page to add a little element of personalisation.

I encourage you to start exploring Google+ Pages and seeing what ways you can take advantage of them for your business.  If you already have a presence on Facebook then you really should get a presence on Google+ too as there are some similarities and some interesting differences.

Advertisements

Is your blog popular? Tell everyone about it!

This week I got a few Likes on my blog posts from Lesley Carter so I went to have a look at her blog. I enjoy travelling so the blog appealed to me and I’m so glad I checked it out because I found some impressive blog stats – almost 8,000 followers and over 290,000 hits in less than 6 months !!

One of the things that Lesley has on her blog which I recommend you also include if you’ve got a lot a good number of followers and/or get a lot of hits is to show these statistic off.  Here is how it’s displayed:

This is what is known as Social Proof.  It’s like when you go to a restaraunt and depending on how empty or full it is your decision to eat there or not is influenced.  The same goes for things in the online world where if you see these kinds of statistics you’re more likely to follow since so many other people are doing so and this has a snowball effect which is very effective. 

So my call to action to you is simple – if you have a good amount of followers and/or get a lot of hits then you should display this prominently and proudly as it will definately help influence others who visit your blog.

Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think it’s harder these days to get people to engage and leave comments on blog posts.  Best practice recommendations include having at the end of your blog post a call to action which may include a request to leave a comment which is fine but what if your blog post is one where you want someone to go away and do something?  And really ending all of your blog posts with a line that invites them to leave a comment is going to make your blog posts boring so you want to have the freedom to end in different ways.

The standard text that is above the comment box in WordPress simply says Leave a reply.  Not exactly inspiring is it?  Well – you can actually change this and make it a bit more exciting and compelling for people to leave comments on your blog posts.  Maybe you want to use the line that this blog post is titled “Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!” but I think that may sound a little desperate and other than the people who might feel sorry for you I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ll let you decide what works best for your blog and your audience but I just wanted to share with you the fact that you can change this if you wanted and weren’t aware of it.  So how do you do it? Well from the Dashboard select the option for Settings which will then open up a page with a lot of different things you can alter and set.  Right down at the bottom of the page there is a section titled Comment Form and there it display the current uninspiring Leave a reply which you change.

So now my call to action – I challenge you to go and change your prompt to something more interesting and compelling.  Surely you can do better than my What do you think?

Tags, Tags, Tags and more Tags

In a previous post I talked specifically about how and why you should use Hashtags on Twitter to raise your visibility and get discovered by others – which is especially important if you don’t have too many followers.  This isn’t restricted to Twitter and in fact it holds true for any social media and blogging platform you use that has the capability to allow you to do this.

For example let’s take WordPress – when you create a post you have the option to add Tags to it and this works along the same lines as the Hashtags in Twitter that I mentioned.  Let’s say I have a blog post that I’ve tagged photography not only will people who visit my blog be able to find all my post tagged with photography but it will also allow anyone visiting the WordPress site to click on this tag on the Popular Tags page.  This will show all posts that have been tagged with this so again someone may discover your post and your blog as a result of that giving you more visibility than you would normally have.

Similarly you can add Hashtags just as you do on Twitter in Google+ posts and people can either do a search within Google+ to find posts that have this tag or they can click on the tag from an existing post and see all other posts with that tag.  I really saw the power of hashtags over the last week on an iPhone photo sharing app that I use called Instagram where I had been posting pictures I’d taken and sometimes didn’t tag them and if I did I’d just use one tag to describe the photo. A new follower who came across a photo of mine told me to “start tagging” and when I looked at her photos I saw a lot more tags than I’d been using.  As soon as I did this the amount of new people who were now discovering my photos, leaving comments and following me increased dramatically.

So if you want to increase your visibility on blogs, social media and even apps look out for opportunities to add tags and I will leave you with the advice that I got that worked well “start tagging!”.

Bragging using your Favourites

Favourites on Twitter are to mark those tweets from other people who you’ve found interesting, useful, funny etc right?  Well that’s one way you can use them however I’m going to suggest you use them in another way that helps to add credibility to you and your business and act as testimonials – or put another way Bragging using your Favourites.

How often have you served your clients and they’ve been really happy with your service/product and have taken the time to send a tweet about it.  Instead of just feeling good about how satisfied your customer is and hope others were watching when that person tweeted it why don’t you add these to your Favourites.  What better way for someone who may be thinking of using your service/product to see tweets from other satisfied customers which helps break down one of the barriers to the sale if they can see lots of regularly satisfied customers.

This is not a million miles away from how when we are buying anything these days we look them up on the internet and look at what others are saying about the  product/service in the testimonials be they on Amazon, Ebay or TripAdvisor.

So do yourself a favour and when someone tweets you a nice message add this to your Favourites.  Of course you can ask your satisfied customers to tweet you if they’re happy and you could also initiate this conversation by thanking them for the business in the first place.  Go on what do you have to lose?

Be on Twitter all day without being on Twitter all day.

One of the biggest issues faced by businesses when trying to adopt more usage of social media like Twitter is finding the time in your busy day to dedicate to tweeting useful and informative things for your followers.  You see others who seem to get through the day busy doing their work and yet still manage to find the time to post tweets all day.  How do they do this?  Maybe they’re just super-efficient or maybe they’re using some nifty little tool that helps them do this.

There are a lot of these nifty tools available these days which help you manage your time more efficiently and maintain your presence on things like Twitter.  One that I personally find quick and easy to use (as well as having a Free subscription option as well as paid options) is BufferDisclosure: I have no links or afiliations with this company in any way.  The idea is simple – you fill up your Buffer with the tweets you want to send and you can schedule when you want them to and Buffer takes care of the rest for you.  This allows you to spend some time each day or week to schedule the tweets you want going out there and then you can get on with being productive and serving your customers.

Of course, we have to mention that social media is not just for one way broadcasting of information so you should still find time in your day to interact with people, read other people’s tweets, maybe do a spot of retweeting of things your followers may find useful and other good social media stuff.  Buffer just makes some of the burden of social media a bit more manageable and allows you to have a regular presence so you’re not out-of-sight-out-of-mind and you’re sharing useful things to your followers.

Ways you could use this is:

  1. Publicisng you content through posting links in tweets so that they are posted at times when people in different parts of the world are likely to see them.
  2. Reminding people about product offerings, events coming up or anything that you need to regularly publicise.
  3. Sharing quotes that your followers may find helpful.

The list of possibilities is endless.  So give it a whirl and take back some of the time you spend on Social Media.

Making it easy for others to share your content

Following on from my Sharing is Caring post I wanted to flip this around to talk about how you can make it easier for others to share your blog content.  I have a theory that these days we’re all suffering from short attention spans and we want to be able to do the things we want quickly and easily – or in other words we’ve all become rather lazy!  So even though it doesn’t take too much effort on people’s part to copy a link from a blog post and then share this by pasting it into a tweet or Facebook update or Google+ post people just don’t bother.  So it’s important that on your blog you include ways they can help share your content by simple click or two and blogging platforms like WordPress give you the ability to add these in very easily.

What you need to be aware of is that not all of the Blog themes you select will have this option so when you’re choosing a blog theme or thinking of changing your existing one to a new one pay close attention to this.  in WordPress look under Settings>Sharing and it will give you a whole page of options to settings and the following is what you’re looking for are the options you want to provide like this:

Once you have chosen the services you want to give to your readers to share your content you will see them displayed at the bottom of your blog posts just above where they have the opportunity to leave a comment:

The additional benefit you get also, which you can see from above, is that when anyone shares your content it using the services you get a count. So as in the above example you can see that 3 people have tweeted the blog post and this can also help encourage others to share your content if they can see this kind of information.  The key thing is that you’ve given them nice easy ways to do this and provided them with a choice of a few ways to do this so they can select the appropriate services that they want to share this with.

Go check your blog – have you provided people an easy way to share your content?  If not does your blogging platform and/or theme give you the ability to do this?  If not then I would recommend you find a way to enable this for your blog posts which may be as simple as choosing a new theme.  As always – feel free to share this blog post using the sharing buttons below!