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Google+: The Brand Experience

Submitted by on May 1, 2012 – 5:56 amNo Comment

More and more businesses have been discovering Google+ as a social networking platform where they can share content and engage with followers in a highly effective way.

Recent figures report: “Google+ has 100 million users, and has grown in popularity recently, with growth spurts of daily users hovering around 625,000 per day.”

With businesses finding the need to be in multiple places online, the question eventually boils down to the basics, e.g. why this platform? How will the experience be different? Do we really need another social media page?

Josh Lloyd, offers three reasons why you should use Google+ in your business:

  1. Better social search rankings. Google’s greatest power is search rankings, so to entice online retailers to adopt and promote Google+ and the social search evolution, it developed into its search algorithm higher search rankings when the “#1″ button is used.
  2. It broadens your consumer appeal. Unlike the Facebook Like button, the +1 button is not limited to use within the confines of the social network, but rather it’s open to anyone searching on Google.
  3. Potential to upsell, cross sell and just sell. Hitting the +1 button is a direct action that enables you to have a direct response. Consider this: You can offer a consumer an incentive to +1 your product and to buy by offering a discount on their next purchase or free shipping.

The Brand Experience
In our recent post, 10 Brands Who Stand Out on Google+, we took a look at big brands who had a large number of followers and how they go about representing themselves with their about statement, photos/artwork and the types of information they share.

For this post, we’ve gleaned insights from a number of small businesses and non-profit organizations about their experiences with Google+. We also had an opportunity to speak with Kevin Purdy, author of Google+ The Missing Manual, for his perspectives on the platform for businesses and examples of companies who he thinks are doing a good job on Google+ .

Why Google+?

Google+ is very powerful for creating connections with people in your related industry. I feel like it’s a combination of Twitter and Facebook; allowing for a more personal sharing of information with a professional feel.
Lindsay Wiffen, Adaptalift Hyster Forklifts
Adaptalift Hyster Forklifts – Google+

I like Google+ for a business presence because I can post the full text of our blog posts along with the direct links, and I can include hashtags and directly refer to vendors’ Google+ pages…and, Google+ is ideal for a business presence because it allows you to really focus on a relevant audience.
Yvonne Miaoulis, Baroan Technologies
Baroan Technologies – Google+

There are a lot of things we like about Google + for business. You can target your posts to certain audiences, so it’s great to not have to post something that you only want a certain portion to read. It’s also very easy to search for topics.
Rachel Hutman, Clearpoint Agency
Clearpoint Agency – Google+

While we 
currently share articles and photos (as it seems image-heavy posts do 
quite well on this platform), we have been evaluating the platform’s 
offerings such as “Hangouts,” that could provide our community with live 
interaction between themselves and cancer survivors, doctors, etc. This 
opportunity to truly connect personally with a community is an 
invaluable opportunity, as it would certainly set any business apart 
from its competitors if used to its full potential.
Emily Walsh, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance – Google+

We aim to actively engage with our followers on Google+ …We tell them about things going on at the company 
and very often ask their opinion on everything from what products we should
 buy and what we should do with our latest jingle. Likewise we’ll tell them about latest offers or products we have ‘coming 
soon’. It’s not all sales though! We’ll ask them what their favourite cake filling
 is or likewise tell them about how some of our staff got involved in ‘wear
 your pj’s to work day’. 
It’s about fun.
Zak Edwards, Prezzybox.com
Prezzybox.com – Google+

I like Google+ for business because it is creating its own niche…It is a great place for businesses to gain credibility with other businesses with posts, commenting, people in your circles, etc. It also has a much better platform than Facebook business pages especially with hangouts and larger high-resolution pictures. As a whole Google+ business pages have developed better interaction between companies and media than any other social media site.

Terms such as: “private jet charter” “jet charter” Private flight”, etc. are all high conversion terms in a Google search, so anytime we make a post with those terms and it is “liked”, commented on, or shared,  we will have a higher ranking in Google.
Michael Maguire, Private Flight Advisors
Private Flight Advisors – Google+

ScanMyPhotos.com has been posting to and 
moderating our Google+ page since November, when Google+ started business
 pages. We post articles pertaining 
to our industry (photo scanning) as well as postings about topics our
 customers are interested in, including digital photography, consumer 
technology, apps, social networking, and interesting art.

ScanMyPhotos.com uses Google+ to interact with our customers. We also occasionally offer specials to our Google+ audience to help everyone professionally digitize their photos, slides, negatives, and transfer video to DVD.
Greg Barco, ScanMyPhotos.com
ScanMyPhotos.com – Google+

Thank you to all of our contributors for sharing their experiences with us.

Q & A with Kevin Purdy, author of Google+ The Missing Manual

What do you see as the benefits of using Google+ for a business?

Overall, the quality of discussions on Google+ is higher than on other platforms. People don’t treat Google+ as a place to stop by, deliver a few Likes, leave a snarky LOL and head off. Google+ tends to draw people into a place where they feel as if they can be part of the conversation with famous figures they have in their circles, friends they don’t get to chat with in other situations, and companies using real people to post messages.

Having that kind of conversation with customers is, as most brand managers and marketers could tell you, very valuable. But most normal humans without a lick of SEO sense could also tell you how nice it is to be able to weigh in on the brands they identify with.

Here’s a weird little side bonus of Google+. If one of your posts is a big hit, it might land in the “What’s Hot” feed. That feed goes out to everybody on Google+, and lots of tech and media types watching that feed. It’s aggressively calculated compound interest paid on your time investment.

What kinds of posts do you find most effective?

Calls for comments, thumbs-up-or-down, and big images of new releases or behind-the-scenes videos always do well, it seems. Generally, anything that lowers the corporate front and allows some personality to come through.

How do you differentiate Google+ from Twitter and Facebook? How should businesses think about using the platform?

Think about how Google+ works from the single user side. If your posts are not too frequent, don’t come off like a free medium for advertising, and involve real people discussing things that most people would want to get into a conversation about, then people will keep your business Page in their main stream. Otherwise, it’s very easy on Google+ to move your business into one of their Circles, like “Brands” or “Companies,” and then literally dial back the frequency with which your company shows up in their stream (using a slider seen when you click on an individual Circle from the main menu).

So unlike Twitter, where people are either following you or they aren’t, or Facebook, where people Like you and then decide if they want to adjust a setting (if they know about it) or un-Like you, you have more of a chance to prove how interesting your business can be on Google+. You know the work you do is interesting, and you’ve got a chance to prove it in a less noisy environment. Part of that is just the nascent nature of the Google+ audience at this point, and it may change; for the time being, it’s a positive.

Are there any examples of businesses who you think are doing an exceptional job at using Google+? What do you like about what they are doing?

Apologies in advance, but the publisher of Google+: The Missing Manual, O’Reilly, has a great Google+ presence. It aggregates posts from individual employees, highlights good news and blog posts in its wide-reaching fields of interest, and picked the right logos for its profile page.

They’re not quite businesses, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the company behind the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu strike a nice balance of “Hey, look at us!” and “Hey, let’s talk about something besides us!”

Volkswagen USA has a traditional mix of discounts/offers, aren’t-we-cool videos, and discussion starters, but they’re attentive to their audience. DeviantArt  plays well with one of Google+’s key strengths: big images. And Google’s own Think with Google is a great stream for any marketer to follow, both for the post topics themselves, and to see how Google+ marketing can be done well.

Thank you, Kevin for taking the time to speak with us at GigCoin and for your extremely helpful book on Google+!

Kevin Purdy is a former contributing editor at the productivity and software blog Lifehacker, a freelance writer and the author of Google+: The Missing Manual and The Complete Android Guide. He lives in Buffalo, NY, but works and writes anywhere he can access Google’s web tools. Follow Kevin on Google+, on his website and learn more too on the Google+: The Missing Manual Google+ page.

Feeling Motivated to Get Started on Google+?
If you’re not already on Google+ and are looking for some guidance on how to set-up your page, we recommend a couple of good sources–posts by Kristi Hines and Zach Bulygo.

And to keep up-to-date on issues related to Google+ and business, you may want to check-out and subscribe to the Google+ Magazine published by Andre.

New Google+ Developments
Thank you, too to Cindy King for bringing to our attention the new Google+ share button, which can be used to encourage visitors to share your content with their friends.

Is your business on Google+?  Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

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