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.

An Overview of Google Business Solutions – The First in a Series of Three Articles

google

With its wide variety of cost-effective business tools, it’s no wonder why Google has secured its position as a global superpower on the Web. Google Business Solutions are a collection of services that are specifically directed at businesses and webmasters. Google offers tools to meet the needs of organizations and businesses of all sizes and boasts over 30,000 search and 3,000,000 Google Apps customers worldwide. This article, the first in a three-part series, will provide you with an overview of Gmail, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, Google Chrome, Google Places and Google+. It will be followed by “An In-depth Look at Google AdWords” and then an article on “5 Additional Innovative Business Tools from Google,” which will focus on Google Offers, Google Engage and more.

Productivity

Gmail — With dozens of email providers to choose from, deciding on Gmail should be a no-brainer. This user-friendly email provider allows you to communicate and collaborate with reliable and secure Web-based tools. Gmail provides you with more than enough free storage space, significantly less spam, built-in text, voice or video chat and much more. You can also access Gmail from any phone, regardless of which device you use, to access your email on the go. For businesses, another comforting feature is that Gmail is entirely safe to use. Gmail uses HTTPS encryption to keep your mail and information secure.

Although most Gmail features are free, businesses can purchase a flexible plan of $5 per month to access a variety of premium features that include Google Docs and Google Calendar. Google Docs allows you to securely store all Web-based documents, spreadsheets, drawings and presentations online. This feature also provides real-time collaboration, which allows users to edit these files at any time, so you will always have the latest version. Google Calendar is a Web-based calendar application that allows businesses to manage meetings online and minimize costs. You can send event invitations, share your calendars company-wide or between specific co-workers, invite guests on mobile devices and much more.

Google Chrome — Google Chrome is a Web browser that combines a minimal, user-friendly design with sophisticated technology to make browsing the Web faster, safer and easier. Most people use their Web browser more than any other feature on their computer for searching for information, shopping, reading the news, watching videos and more. Therefore, it is essential to have a high level of security, speed and stability, which Google Chrome has mastered. Google Chrome is designed to be as fast as possible, up-to-date with the latest security updates and simple to use. Best of all, this Web browser is completely free to download on any computer.

Web Marketing

Google Analytics — This powerful Web monitoring tool provides users with rich insights into their website traffic and Web marketing effectiveness. Using Google Analytics, you can analyze data and determine which ads, keywords and other factors are most effective in driving traffic to your website and optimizing your Web presence. By consistently monitoring the information provided by Google Analytics, businesses can adapt based on what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, this tool will help you create higher converting websites and strengthen your online marketing efforts.

Google AdWords — Google AdWords lets you create and run ads for your business with a custom budget. Ads are displayed under “Sponsored Links” alongside the search results when someone searches on Google using one of your chosen keywords. This tool is so effective for businesses because you are advertising to an audience who is already interested in what you have to offer. In addition to text ads, you can run display and click-to-play video ads on Google AdWords. For more information on how to use Google AdWords, please read our article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords.” Look out for our next article, which will include a more in-depth look at the features and options available for businesses on Google AdWords.

Google AdSense — Google AdSense is a free platform that places AdWords ads on non-Google websites. AdSense allows Web publishers to earn revenue online by displaying ads on site search results, websites, mobile Web pages and mobile apps. By simply allowing others to place targeted Google ads on your website, your business can earn money. While displaying these Google ads, AdSense also lets you provide a Google search bar to your site users. By placing this search box on your site, visitors can search the Web directly from your website. Also, you will receive a “Top Queries” report that shows you what your visitors are searching for on your site. By reviewing the 25 most common searches conducted through this Google search box, you can identify additional topics, keywords or information to add to your site, based on what your customers or clients are searching for.

Google Places — Google Places is an excellent tool for allowing businesses to get found on Google for free. Since 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, it is essential for your business to be found in search results. Over 90% of the local business Web pages on Google have not been claimed. Claiming your business page will put you at an advantage since local business results appear at the top of search results on Google when someone searches, using a certain location. By simply registering your business with Google Business Center, you can help potential customers find you on Google Places. On your Google Places page, you can include your location, contact information, photos, videos and any other information that you would like to communicate to your audience. Customers or clients can also leave reviews on your Google Places page.

Social Media

Google+ — Now open to all users, Google+ is a relatively new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm by reaching 10 million users in its first 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Google+’s “+1” button also works the same as Facebook’s “Like” icon. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. The “Circles” feature allows users to organize contacts in specific groups. For example, you may have a circle specifically for friends and then one only for business contacts. Google+ also has many other unique features such as Hangouts, Sparks and Huddles. The Hangouts feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose. Huddles, available on Google+ Mobile, is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place.

Businesses can also benefit from including the “+1” button on their website and blog. For more information on 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.

Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings

Google recently launched Google+, a new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm. Although it is still in its field-testing phase and by invitation only, Google+ has reached 10 million users in just 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. This remarkable feat took Twitter a total of 780 days and Facebook 852 days to accomplish. According to the latest official estimate on July 18, Google+ now has over 18 million users.

google-plus-graph1

Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. For example, you may choose to add Google+’s founder, Larry Page, to your circle and you will not need his approval to do so.

Although there is no functionality for business pages or advertisements at the moment, we would encourage you to seek invitations from those you already know on Google+ and create personal profiles. Google+ also automatically imports your Gmail contacts so it is simple to find people you know. The company plans to add a business feature within the next couple of months. Google+ is rapidly evolving, with more features soon to come.

This article will provide you with an overview of Google+ features such as the +1 button, Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and its unique mobile and privacy capabilities.

+1 Button — This button is very similar to the Facebook “like” button. To click +1 on a blog post, article, photo or any other content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to put the +1 button on your own website and blog here.

Circles — On Google+, you can group your contacts into circles. For example, you may have a separate circle for friends, co-workers, business contacts, family and so on. You can create as many circles as you like. To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a circle. Your contacts can be added to multiple circles as well. When you post text, photos, videos, links and location to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. For example, you may want to share a photo only with your friends, or you may share an interesting industry-related article with your business contacts. The Circles feature helps to address one of the shortcomings of Facebook which will help fuel the popularity of Google+.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. You can notify friends of who you’re hanging out with and they can choose to drop into your chat.

Sparks — Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose, in over 40 languages. Add your interests to Sparks and the tool will provide you with the videos and articles that would be of the most interest to you.

Google+ Mobile — Cell phones have become the ideal outlet for sharing information with our contacts. They are always by our side, always connected to the Internet and simple to use. Even in its beginning stages, Google+ has superior mobile capabilities. Now available on Android Market, the mobile Web and the App Store, Google+ allows users to announce their location, upload multimedia and join in “Huddles.”

Location — With Google+, you may choose to add your location to every post. Like FourSquare, this is a good tool for letting your friends know what you’re up to and recommending places for them to visit.

Upload Multimedia — Google+ has made sharing videos and photos from your phone to the Web effortless. Using Google+’s mobile feature, your photos and videos are uploaded automatically from your phone to a private album on Google+ that you can then moderate. After they are uploaded, all you have to do is decide who to share them with.

Huddles — Huddles is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place. Think of it as a texting conversation involving as many of your friends as you like.

Privacy — For those who are concerned about their privacy on social media websites, Google+ is a breath of fresh air. Google+ allows you to share any information on your profile selectively. For example, you can choose to show your occupation to business contacts but not your relationship status. If you only want your friends to be able to see your phone number, simply set up this information in your “Friends” circle only. A tip is to create a circle specifically for people who you don’t personally know and set restrictions on what they can and cannot view on your profile.