What You Are Missing on GooglePlus

Let those other people ignore GooglePlus and talk about it being a ghost town. Here are six of the most compelling reasons you should be on GooglePlus – both as a business and as an individual.

1. GooglePlus Communities
2. GooglePlus Local Pages
3. Hangouts and Hangouts on Air
4. Google Authorship
5. Search Engine Optimization
6. Access

Google Plus Missing Out Image by Ray Gordon

illustration by Ray Gordon

As a business, you probably have decided to prioritize investing time on platforms where your customers and prospects are most plentiful. Sounds like a sensible strategy. Yet in the case of GooglePlus, there is sufficient evidence to warrant an exception to that guideline. As an individual, you may rationalize that your friends from Twitter and Facebook aren’t on GooglePlus as yet, or they’ve created a GooglePlus account and just aren’t active. Would you rather be the person at a cocktail party that seeks out people you already know and talk to them all night – or will you take the chance to meet new people? You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the number of new contacts and customers that are available on GooglePlus.

GooglePlus Communities
GooglePlus is getting a new rush of activity since the introduction on December 6th of their new feature Communities. For instance, I have joined WordPress, Travel, Social TV, LinkedIn, Good Business (hosted by Gideon Rosenblatt), and a few other GooglePlus Communities with topics of interest to me. In Communities, you’ll find it easy to build new connections with people active on GooglePlus. Here is something organizations should know: Google Brand Pages are allowed to create and join Communities! This is in contrast to Facebook Brand Pages which cannot join Facebook Groups. 

Tip: GooglePlus Community Participation
Your posts on Communities along with +1′s and comment responses to that thread will show up on your own profile. This is true for both individuals and brands. If the content is valuable and you don’t mind linking to the Community, this is a positive. If you prefer to prevent this, simply limit your comments to responding to threads instead of initiating them.
Update: Now you have another choice. Go to your settings scroll to the section on communities and un-check the new setting: “Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile.”

GooglePlus Local Pages
Did you create a GooglePlace to put your local business on the map? You may not have noticed that earlier this year Google used your GooglePlace data to create a GooglePlus Local listing. Google purchased Zagat in September 2011, and on May 30, 2012 they began integrating GooglePlus Local listing/GooglePlace reviews into Zagat. At the beginning of December 2012, Google began integrating Frommers reviews as well, following their purchase of Frommers in the fall of 2011. Integration of GooglePlus Local Pages with GooglePlus Business Pages is in the works. If you have a local business with a legitimate address, all these new connections make it imperative that you be active on GooglePlus.

Tip: Choosing a Google Account to Use for GooglePlus
If you have a GooglePlace account but don’t yet have a GooglePlus account, make sure to use the same Google account to set up your GooglePlus account. If you don’t have a GooglePlace account, you need to choose one Google account you will use for all your Google products, including YouTube and GooglePlus. Any Google product sign-in uses a Google account, so check to see if you already have one. (It is not necessarily a gmail.)

Hangouts and Hangouts on Air
Google Hangouts allow GooglePlus members to participate in video chats with up to nine other participants. Facebook and Twitter do not offer anything like this. On May 7th, the introduction of Google Hangouts on Air (HOA) brought a rush of activity and new users to GooglePlus. HOA provides an excellent opportunity to produce live shows recorded directly to YouTube. You can use your shows to demonstrate to and teach existing and potential customers.

Google Authorship
Establishing your Google Authorship raises your authority as a writer on Google. If your company has one or more industry expert bloggers they can take advantage of this opportunity to boost their status on Google. Catalyst Search Marketing published a case study showing that adding authorship data and other types of rich snippets to a sample site increased search clicks by 150 percent during a one month period of tracking.

I linked my GooglePlus account to each of the websites that I own and write for with a simple rel=author code. Google provides the steps to set up and test your authorship for single and multiple author sites. You can find your Google Authorship statistics in your Google webmaster tools. There is a new feature rolling out that lets you see Authorship stats within your GooglePlus profile.

If you Google “How to pronounce karaoke” my face shows up on the first page with my article about that. The search result looks like this:

Result of Googling How to Pronounce Karaoke screen shot

Search Engine Optimization
Everything you post publicly on GooglePlus gets indexed by Google almost immediately. Social signals, such as “+1′s” are now an important part of SEO. The more active you are on GooglePlus, the more likely your website will get +1′s. Each post on your website should have a GooglePlus +1 button that includes a counter. This allows visitors to easily +1 bookmark a URL from your site.

Tips: For both SEO and to increase your traction on GooglePlus
Fill out your About and make your +1 tab visible. Comment often on the profiles of others to create and build relationships. Respond to a reasonable number of comments on your own profile/brand page to demonstrate you are listening. (This is social media.) Choose Public when you post and post on your own profile/Page at least once a week (preferably daily).

Access
GooglePlus can give you access to influencers who might not notice you elsewhere. Because it is still relatively new, GooglePlus is still listening to participants for suggestions. There is a nice spirit of camaraderie that people seldom feel with well-established platforms.

For businesses, being early to the party gives you a distinct advantage. But remember, just setting up a profile does not give you access – you must be active and engaging.

These companies are benefitting from establishing themselves early on GooglePlus
Big Brands
- Ford (Have created a G+ Community)
- Nissan
- H&M
- Sony
- Toyota
- Hello Kitty

Small Medium Businesses and Non-Profits
- SEO Moz
- AdaFruit DIY Electronics (Have created a G+ Community)
- The Case Foundation (Have created a G+ Community)
- Children’s National Medical Center
- King Arthur Flour
- Edmunds.com
- Zimmerman fashion
- Dolman Law Group (personal injury)

Hope to see you on GooglePlus soon. You can find me at: https://plus.google.com/+LindaSherman

Update:
This article is linked to by:
Forbes (where I am interviewed by the excellent Forbes writer, Dorie Clark)

About Linda Sherman

International, multicultural marketing pro, Linda brings a distinguished background of international subsidiary CEO/CMO to her Social Marketing expertise. These include CEO Club Med Japan, Barilla Japan and CMO Wal-Mart Japan. Linda Sherman has been featured and quoted in Forbes, The New York Times, Christian Monitor and other leading publications. She devised and implemented an innovative guerrilla-marketing plan for ZIMA in Japan that produced a lasting, profitable success. Linda has hands-on technical skills in building and search optimizing WordPress websites and an influential on-line presence. Linda teaches social marketing for business at the University of Hawaii. Her company, The Courage Group, provides websites, digital film, branding and social marketing strategy and training. Linda is also a personal branding coach.

Connect with Linda Sherman on Google+