Getting Your Business On Google+

There’s been a lot of hubbub around Google+ since they opened the service to Businesses and Brands on November 7th. There have also been a lot of people claiming to have the secret sauce to making an amazing Google+ business page- after a week? However, the information I am about to present here- a companion piece to my “Google Plus for Publishers” post- is straight from the horse’s (Android’s?) mouth.

First, a brief update on the status of the service. Google+ so far has 40 million Users, about 100 days after launch. The “+” button is being shown over 5 billion times a day to Users on over 1 million sites. There’s still quite a ways to go to catch up to Facebook, but clearly the reports of Google+ being D.O.A. are just opportunistic rants from people with something to gain. The way that + ties in with search is absolutely crucial to successful marketing on the Internet moving forward. Google has made the statement that social is a “core human behavior and not a destination”- that’s a pretty clear signal as to the importance of social.

Google states that Google+ allows you to get closer to customers by having conversations with the right people, inspiring existing customers to recommend new customers, and improving ad performance (through the addition of +1 annotations on the SERP) across all initiatives, not just social initiatives. The annotations are the biggest reason I see right now to adopt +1 on all pages on your site as well as Google+, as the personalized annotations have already shown to increase click through rates on both organic and paid listings.

Top global brands that have already jumped on the G+ bandwagon include:

Toyota                  ABC News           Kia                          Dell

Orange                 Piaget                   Macy’s                  Pepsi

Burberry              DC Comics           T Mobile              L’Oreal

NBC News           Amazon               The New York Times

… and the lists goes on. Clearly, big brands, which already enjoy some special treatment on Google, are eager to jump on this one.

Basics- Creating your Page

Create your Page

  1. Log into your Gmail account (your personal GMAIL account!) You must opt in to/join Google+ personally before you can create a page for your business.
  2. Go to the Stream page and click on “Create a Google+ page” on the lower right hand side
  3. Start by picking a category:
    • Local business or place- this is the most specific differentiator of the 5, with options to display a local phone number right on the front of the profile.
    • Product or Brand
    • Company institution or organization
    • Arts entertainment or sports
    • Other
  4.  Fill out and then share the page (if it’s ready for consumption)- then you get the “Congratulations” page.
  5. Start to think creatively first, about how to spice up your page- then use the “Edit Profile” button to get cracking! (check out what Red Bull did with their G+ page for inspiration!)
  6. Add photos, write an introduction and add your organization’s contact info and website info. This is basic identity information your customers will see when they visit the page.
  7. CONNECT YOUR WEBSITE using the “widget configurator”- Google will help you make a badge that will connect your G+ account to your website. The configurator generates code that you copy/paste into your site so that Users see the badge. This is also very important to Google identifying your page as the “official” page! Another added benefit is that Users will be able to add you to their circles using the badge- without needing to click through to the G+ page to do so.
  8. Toggle between you and your businesses’ identity using the pick list that appears under your avatar at the top left hand side of the page to post as either yourself, or the owner of the page. Be careful who you are posting “as”!

Sharing: Build Connections

You can’t add people who haven’t opted in to follow your brand (by adding you to one or more of their Circles) until they add you first. This is a key differentiator between G+ pages for individuals and G+ pages for brands. Once they have added you, ask them what circle they should be in! From there, you can segment them by demographic into circles that you can then produce custom content for. Want a promotion to go out, but only to women? That’s your “Female customers” circle! Want to have a hangout just with guys who ride mountain bikes? Make a circle for that demographic! G+ makes it really easy to get targeted content in front of a highly differentiated audience.

Hangouts:

If you haven’t used a Hangout yet, it’s pretty neat. Basically, it’s a video chat room for up to ten people who have webcams and mics, whereby whoever is talking gets focus in the main window. This allows you to have Hangouts to build a more personal relationship with your customers. You can even limit a particular hangout to a particular circle, to keep the marketing message segmented and targeted to the highest degree.

Promotion: Grow your Audience

  1. “Spread the word”- on the right hand side of the screen that lets you create a message to say hello to the world! Don’t worry about launching with too little content, the content will come.
  2. Add the badge and button to your site so that people are directly connected to G+ through your site and vice versa.
  3. Direct Connect- Use Direct Connect to verify ownership of the official page and improve discoverability by making yours the “official” profile when Users use the + operator. This will allow Users using Search to bypass the search results entirely and be landed right on your site.
  4. ADD THE PLUS ONE BUTTON TO YOUR SITE! +1 annotations are public and drastically increase CTRs. Please see my other post on how to leverage Google +1 on your site for more information.

Google is aiming to make Google Plus the central identity for your brand, with all the social signals (Plus ones) from connected properties ensuring that all the social collateral you’ve built is served to the User when it’s most valuable- on the SERP. For that reason, it’s important to cross-promote and get the word out to fellow employees and friends about the existence of the page.

Tracking: Using the Data

Google Analytics will add segmentation data in the future that will allow you to see data on content that has +1 annotations from associated Users, content that has the generic +1 annotation, and content that has no annotation. Coming soon! Google Ripples will also allow you to see how your content spreads, who the key influencers are, and who they influence. It’s a whole new layer of social data to incorporate and we’ll all have to learn how to best do so.

Common G+ Questions

Can there be multiple administrators on a Google+ page? Multi-admin capability is coming by the end of the year, “transfer ownership” functionality will come with it.

If I choose the wrong category which happens? It’s no big deal…except for “Local”. Only choose that if the focus of your business is a specific service area.

What if you have a franchise with many locations? Start small, fewer pages are better for now- it’s no big deal to set up different pages for different SBUs…eventually Google wants you to have one global identity and use Circles to reach customers in different locales. Err on the side of global creation, but Google might not ever be able to stitch thousands of them into one unique identity.

What’s the relationship between Plus and Places pages? Places and Plus pages are completely different products for now, but should be cross linked.

Can we put messages out to people who haven’t Circled us? You can’t push a message to someone who hasn’t circled you yet but once they have that’s essentially an opt-in to their message so that’s why they do it.

Can hangouts ever go bigger, like crowdcasting? They are limited to just 10 people for now but eventually an “on air” tool might become available.

How do I get my page verified?

  1. Add a badge to your site
  2. Have the rel=publisher code on the pages.

The “verify” checkmark is only in place for spam/abuse reasons. Google is reaching out to brands that are being impersonated or abused (not just one-off satire pages, but widespread abuse) to get them verified. Google decides who gets verified.

Circle limits are 5,000 today but someday it will be bigger.

Pages go live immediately but are not very discoverable at the outset as they don’t have much content.

Can you screen share with hangouts? Only with 3rd party technology, it’s not native to G+ right now

Can you have more than one G+ page with your account? Yes, the current limit is about 20 right now, but it will grow with the advent of multi user support.

+1’s do not affect quality score at the time being but +1’s on domains will affect +1’s on ads in terms of CTR and performance.

Can I restrict a hangout to a certain circle?  Yes, you can have a hangout with just that circle; it’s an option when you Start the hangout.

Google+ Pro Tips

  • LINK YOUR G+ Page to your AdWords Campaign and site!
  • Rich posts work best- include media in the form of images or video.
  • Sign your posts! Put a face on your brand.
  • Ask your community what Circle they want to be in.
  • Make sure to disable comments and re-sharing before you post sensitive topics.
  • Cross promote on other channels; email, social and offline.
  • Share your page! Encourage co-workers to do the same.
  • Use Google+ search to find out what people are saying about your brand.
  • Encourage customers to use branded and non branded hashtags.
  • Make sure you track how +1’s are affecting your AdWords performance.
  • Be flexible and adapt!

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