Google+ Opens its Doors to Businesses

Google+

After months of anticipation, Google has finally launched Google Plus Page for Business. Up until last week, Google+ has focused on connecting individual people. However, as of Monday, November 7, Google+ Pages are available worldwide for businesses, global brands, sports teams and celebrities. It is now easier than ever for businesses to connect with their audiences, encourage visitors to recommend their organization with a simple “+1” and send quick and customized updates to targeted groups of people. Also, since people search for local businesses using Google more than any other search engine, the launch of Google+ Pages will give business pages precedence and higher authority in Google search results.

This article will show you how to create a successful Google+ Page for your business. It will also explain how businesses can use features such as Circles, Hangouts, the +1 button, Direct Connect and how you can measure your Google+ performance.

Create a Google+ Page — To create a Google+ page for your business, organization or brand, click here. To complete your page, upload a profile picture and include a description of your organization, your hours, website and contact information. After you’ve completed your business page, be sure to notify other users by clicking “Spread the Word” to share your new page with the public and individual Circles on Google+. You can also share the link to your page on your other social media profiles and include the Google+ icon on your business’ website, blog and email signature.

Businesses can use these pages to share news, photos, videos and links with their audiences. Through the social interaction and networking capabilities available on Google+, businesses can also nourish relationships with customers, clients, potential customers, business connections and much more.

Circles — Google+ makes it simple to sort followers into groups called “Circles.” To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a Circle. When you post text, photos, videos and links to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. Businesses may want to create unique Circles for customers in certain geographic areas, of different ages, industries, languages and more. Using this feature, businesses can then send relevant, customized messages to small, targeted audiences. For example, a restaurant may want to send a coupon on their children’s menu only to mothers in Nassau County. A bar can send a special offer to their “College Students” Circle to send this group a special offer for beer and wings. The Circles feature helps to address a major shortcoming of Facebook fan pages by providing a way for businesses to improve their reach, classification and targeting capabilities through social media.

One restriction to keep in mind is that, unlike with personal Google+ pages, business pages cannot add people to Circles until the page is added first or the user has mentioned the business in a post. Also, Business Pages cannot +1 other pages, nor can they +1 content on the Web.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows Google+ users to engage in live, face-to-face chats with multiple people at the same time. This is an excellent outlet for businesses to directly communicate with their audiences. This kind of personal interaction has never been possible on Facebook or Twitter. To begin, simply click “Start a Hangout” when you log in to your business page. Using your live webcam, you can start a video chat with those in your circles and send notifications to those who may be interested in joining your chat.

+1 Button —To click +1 on a business page, article, blog post, photo or any other form of content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to include the +1 button on your own website and blog here. Including the +1 button on your Web pages is so important because, according to Hubspot, websites using Google’s +1 button get three-and-a-half times more Google+ visits. Businesses should treat this button in the same manner as Facebook’s “Like” icon by encouraging people to +1 their page and also add it to their circles.

Direct Connect — Direct Connect is Google+’s newest feature. By going to Google and searching for “+” followed by the page you are interested in, you will be automatically directed to the business’ Google+ page. For example, if you search for “+Pepsi,” Direct Connect will allow you to quickly navigate to Pepsi’s Google+ Page. Another benefit for businesses is that, when users are directed to pages, they will also be prompted with the question, “Add this page to your circles?” This feature makes it easier than ever to connect with businesses through social networking.

Once you add the Google+ code to your website, you will be eligible to be included in Google Direct Connect. For now, Direct Connect only works with a limited number of pages, such as Pepsi and YouTube, but the service will eventually become available to all businesses.

Measure Your Performance — Google+ offers several tactics to measure how well your business page is performing. Several of these monitoring tools are the Google+ Search, Ripples and Social Analytics:

  • Google+ Search — Businesses should use the search bar on Google+ to search keywords, names, businesses and brands. This can help businesses monitor what is being said about their organization or industry on Google+, help resolve customer service issues and connect with customers and potential customers.
  • Ripples — The Ripples feature on Google+ lets you see who is sharing and resharing your content. For example, businesses can monitor who has shared their posts and connect with these users.
  • Social Analytics — Analytics measures +1s and how engagement on your site changes. You can also see demographic information about the users who have +1ed your site.

The exciting news is that Google+ is still adapting, with more changes soon to come. To learn more about Google+, read our article, “Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings.” For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.