Social Media

Which Businesses Use Google Plus And How Do I Get Started?

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Google Plus is the latest social media offering by Google, who wasn’t successful with tools like orkut, Google Wave and Google Buzz. It looks like they finally got it right. They are on board to have 400 million users by the end of 2012. Business owners are noticing and starting to use it as an essential piece of their social media strategy.

Don Campbell, leading social media expert and president of Expand2Web, was a  guest on Coffee Talk with James Martell. It recently focused on Google+ and its effect on social media. Campbell said, “What I think is significant of Google+ is that this is the one where we are putting the company behind it. They are betting on it.”

Businesses Applying the Tool

Google+ is a social network with an identity system. It gives people a personal or business profile on the web. The way people find businesses and services is changing. They are using the web, but not always using search engines. Instead, they are relying on referrals and recommendations from the social media community. Google+ adds another layer.

  • Photographers

One of the first communities to connect to Google+ successfully was photographers. They were able to take advantage of the great new Picasa features to share high resolution photos with their customers. They were then able to bring their customers over to Google+ to increase the user base.

Google acquired Picasa and improved it to make it a fantastic tool. There are no more storage limitations, whereas before users could only store up to 20 MB. Photos can be made into stylish albums and shared among people in Google+ circles, who can make comments. The app allows you to set up automatic sharing, so that photos can be uploaded as soon as you take them.

  • Health Services

Services such as doctors, dentists, and chiropractors have also been very successful with Google+. Creative small business owners have found a way to profit from the +1 feature. When people click on +1 next to a link, Google counts it as a vote towards its search engine algorithm.

Updates and shares in Google circles are also indexed by the search engine. That means everything shared by a business counts towards moving them higher in the search engine ranking. That in turn attracts more customers to their business page, and ultimately to their business.

  • Local Businesses

Google+ Local is another feature used by small business owners. Formerly called Google Places, Google+ Local is a feature on the Google search engine page under the ‘Local’ sidebar. Customers can search under specific categories, or just browse all categories to find information on local businesses. Claiming a listing is free. When a customer lands on your page, they find:

  • Customer recommendations
  • Zagat scores (on a 30 point scale)
  • Contact information
  • Photos
  • Map with physical location

Getting Started

It is easy to get up and running on Google+ and doesn’t take a lot of time. First you need a Google account, which you already have if you use Gmail or a Google app. Then you need to create a personal page from which you can link your business page.

Spend some time deciding what to put on your business page. Think about how you want your business represented. A local business page will have your address whereas a branding page will describe what it’s about.

You want to encourage your customers to follow you on Google+. You can attract them by letting them know you will include coupons, updates, special events announcements, etc. The page should look professional and include a business description and an explanation of the services offered. You should also include pictures.

“The businesses doing best online have pictures of the staff or pictures of a smiling office manager because people are visual. People can add comments to the photos also. It doesn’t need to be a professional photo shoot. Casual pictures with a decent camera and good lighting are fine,” said Don Campbell on Coffee Talk, one of the top affiliate marketing podcasts.

If you need assistance with your Google+ plan, Campbell teaches a class at the School of Internet Marketing that can help. There is also a class on making a website in a weekend.

James Martell is an author and speaker who attends many industry events. Most recently he attended the Affiliate Summit East 2012 in New York City. He loves to travel and commonly jokes that all he needs is a white sandy beach, crystal clear blue water, a thatched hut, a hammock, and a desk with an Internet connection. Martell spends a lot of time researching, and teaching about Internet marketing. One site he visits regularly is http://www.openwebsitetutorials.com/.

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