How to boost your business with Google+

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I recently wrote an article on memeburn about Google+ and why it will get you more business than Facebook or Twitter. The article was hugely well received and even got a share from Mr Guy Kawasaki himself, who has over 1,300,000 followers. Despite what a lot of people say, there are a lot of people using Google+ and I believe that these people are going to experience a return on investment for the time they’re putting into using it. I believe that people are still skeptical about Google+, but for those who are feeling interested and inspired (or actively using it), I wanted to share some things with you to inspire and assist you.

Below I’ve sourced a few pages from brands that are doing Google+ really well, but before that let me just tell you that the growth of sharing on Google+ is roughly 18.5% per month, which is a great deal more than Facebook’s 9.3%. That’s phenomenal growth, growth that we should all want to be part of.

Right, here are the pages I found:

Hewlett Packard – https://www.google.com/+HP

HP on Google+

With almost half a million followers on their profile, HP are clearly a powerhouse on Google+. Regular updates and an engaged audience are easy to see when you visit their page. HP have also tested the waters with Hangouts and held an event where the team discussed the recent HP Application Transformation announcement, the big picture of enterprise mobility and the exciting new capabilities of HP Anywhere. Along with this was a live Q&A session. This was a fantastic B2B application.

LinkedIn – https://www.google.com/+LinkedIn

LinkedIn on Google+

Although LinkedIn doesn’t have as many followers as Hewlett Packard, their cover photograph is incredibly striking and inviting, which is important because the cover photograph is the first thing that anyone visiting the page will see. LinkedIn does a good job of updating the page on a fairly regular basis, they use hashtags appropriately and are selective in what they share, which includes some fantastic photographs. I do feel that they could engage more with the audience though as comments left on pages appear to fall on dead ears.

Ferrari – https://www.google.com/+Ferrari

Ferrari on Google+

Ferrari is a brand that everyone knows and with the ability to publish pictures of their amazing cars, they’re guaranteed to grow a following. Their following is almost at 4 million! What is great about the page is the diversity, one might think that there would only be pictures of cars, but the page offers video chats with industry folk, videos and interesting articles. The page has a huge amount of engagement with some articles receiving a huge number of shares, +1′s and comments.

Cadbury UK – https://www.google.com/+CadburyUK

Cadbury on Google+

Whilst looking for a food brand, Cadbury UK popped out in a number of places and when you arrive at their Google+ page you’ll see why. The page makes you crave chocolate, you have been warned. The page is fantastic, the photographs are beautiful, the audience is engaged and there’s a diversity in the content that is produced. Definitely a source of inspiration for anyone in the food business who wants to give Google+ a crack.

Android – https://www.google.com/+android

Android on Google+

With a whopping 5,2 million followers on Google+, Android is a force to be reckoned with. Naturally, it’s a Google product so it fits in perfectly with their processed, but let’s take nothing away. The page is engaging and inspiring with lots of beautiful photographs, applications, articles, videos and a great deal more. Android is possibly one of the best pages that exists on Google+ at this point in time.

Side takeaway: Here’s a list of the top 100 brands on Google+.

After spending several hours looking around at all the big brands and their involvement on Google+, I turned to my followers and reached out to find out who their favourite South Africa brands (For those who are interested, here’s an exhausted list of JSE listed companies.) are. A little research revealed the following about these brands on Google+

  • Woolworths – A decent page that is updated frequently, but the following is low and engagement almost non-existent.
  • Shoprite – Looks as though they gave it a go, but gave up about a month ago.
  • Mr Delivery – Non existent.
  • OLA - Non existent.
  • Vodacom – It would appear that they’re giving it a go. The first update was on June 14th and the last comment (at the time of writing this post) was yesterday, July 13th.
  • SAB - Non existent.
  • Nando’s – It’s really exciting to see that Nando’s have a great Google+ Page, it’s got a good following, what appears to be great content and it’s engaging.
  • Investec – The page was active, although not very inviting, but the last update was on Jan 30 this year.
  • Sun International – Non existent.
The outcome isn’t too impressive and it’s a shame because there’s huge room for these local power brands to take advantage. It does give a good gap for the smaller brands to shine through and with Google+ making more of an appearance in search results, this leaves hope for smaller brands to fall into the hands of the search audience.

I’m a firm believer in paying a professional to do what they do best, not only for the sake of getting better results, but for the sake of allowing you to then concentrate on what you do best. I’ve followed this motto in many aspects of my personal and professional life, and can safely say that it’s worth it. However, I’d like to share with you what I’d do if I was limited with time and knowledge when it comes to running a Google+ Page.

Set Up

  1. When it comes to the cover photograph (the big pictures above), take the time to design something or take a magical photograph because this is the first thing people see when they visit your page. You want this photograph to be really attractive and to sell or hold your visitors attention for a few seconds with hopes that it’ll encourage them to look further.
  2. The second thing that is crucial is your logo, upload and crop your logo carefully to make sure it’s clear.
  3. When it comes to filling in the information for your business such as tagline, introduction, contact details and so forth, spend time filling in this information as accurately as possible and put as much in as you can. I don’t mean filler text or fluff, but put as much business related information in as possible so someone following gets a proper understanding of what your company is about.
  4. Under links, be sure to include a link to your website, but also include a link to your businesses Facebook and Twitter account, or your business blog. This is a good opportunity to get some additional links and/or movement from visitors to your other web assets.

Maintenance

  1. Merely setting up your page isn’t enough, it needs to be active. Let me tell you a secret, to have a successful page you do not need to update it ten times a day or even every day. Quality over quantity applies, but I’d recommend one update per week though.
  2. When you update your page, make sure you update it with useful information, things that your followers would want to read. If you’re a car wash, perhaps share photographs of cars you’ve washed that look amazing. If you run a financial company, perhaps publish some interesting statistics on investments worth investigating. If you’re a wine farm, share photographs of the vines or the process of making the wine. If you run a blog, share your blog articles on the page, but I’d advise not only sharing your own blog posts, you need to find a mixture between self promotion and industry/niche promotion. Nobody wants to follow a page where only products are pushed.
  3. Use the search facility Google+ offers to find people in your industry and add them to circles. By doing this, you have the chance of the same people adding your business to a circle. Look at what content these people share and comment on it or share it to your followers. Building relationships is the most time consuming act, but the most beneficial. If you have 20 dedicated fans, you’ll get more from them that 1,000 disinterested fans.
  4. Make use of hashtags on Google+, they’re clearly placed next to updates and this is a fantastic way to grow your following with like-minded folk.
  5. When you share links, tag the links properly so you can measure and determine whether they’re well received. Allow your audience to guide you in what you should be sharing.

If the things I’ve discussed thus far aren’t appearing that important, then let me just talk about one aspect which is crucial!

Google Places has now been replaced by Google+ and if customers on Google+ want to leave a review about your business, they can, regardless of whether you’re there or not! Furthermore, when you perform a search on Google that touches on ‘local’, the search results Google shows you include the listings:

Google+ Listings

This is becoming more and more important, and because it’s at the top of the search results, you want to be there! Secondly, if users on Google+ are search for a business, Google+ prompts them to review the business. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why this is important. And lastly, Google+ is pushing harder to be more involved in the mobile space with their mobile apps for iOS and Android. This is a powerful way of putting your company in front of your potential customers.

Before I sign off, let me share two great resources with you:

  1. Introduction to Google+ for businesses (PDF guide)
  2. How to use Google+ for business part 1 and part 2.

There are 6 comments

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  1. These are some great tips and examples on not only creating but also maintaining a presence on Google +. The pdf Guide that you linked to is also a great help for anyone looking for more information on starting out or trying to maintain a presence there. Thanks for this article (and the initial one as well).

  2. Hi Julian – I really appreciate your support, thank you. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen so much success with Google+ that I feel compelled to educate businesses. A gentleman called Mark left a comment, and I quote, “If Google gives you a legal way to directly influence their search results, you want to be all over that!” – he’s hit the nail on the head.

    Hope to see you around again! :)

  3. I completely agree – I have seen improvements for some clients’ local listings just from helping them set up and optimize a Google + page for their business. And the ones who actually engage on Google + seem to do even better.

    And your comment on people leaving reviews on Google + whether a business has established a presence there or not just proves that businesses should make sure to maintain a presence on there (if for nothing else, to help with monitoring and managing the reviews people leave).

  4. You nailed it! The Google+ Page for business is a seriously untapped area and it’s sitting there waiting for so many companies to capitalise. The engagement factor is something I’ve been working on a lot recently and I find that if I can educate a partner, they’re able to run with the basics themselves and achieve things themselves, which always has a positive ending.

    I think that businesses are in a difficult situation because across Facebook, Twitter, HelloPeter, Yelp, Google+, etc, etc. there’s a chance their brand will get mentioned and if they’re not there, something sensitive might not get dealt with. It’s a difficult one, but I guess it’s like that in the offline world too.. we can’t be everywhere, but for the sake of this discussion, at least be on Google+, which could be powering your visibility.

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