A few days before penning this piece we held our first ever ‘Zazzle Live!’ event. It was during that conference and the resulting networking time afterwards that the idea for this post came to me as many of those in attendance kept asking the same question: “What is Google+ and why should I - a small/medium sized business owner - care about it?”
Over the course of this blog post, it’s hoped that not only can we answer this question - whilst shedding some light on this giant platform - but encourage you guys to embrace the Plus community.
Google+ is, in it’s most basic form, a social media platform. Described by Google, as their ‘social layer’ and with a, reported, 300 million active monthly users - second only to Facebook’s 1 billion monthly active users - it’s no minor entity. However Google+ is more than ‘just another social platform’; quite a bit more, in fact.
There are hundreds of blogs and articles passing their thoughts on Google+. we’ve read plenty of articles that seem insistent that we’ll be viewing the demise of the platform altogether, because it’s not performing as ‘well’ as Facebook. With this in mind, I’ve decided to dispel 3 common myths and misconceptions about Plus that I’ve come across, straight off-the-bat;
“Google+ is a ghost town”
WRONG. We're not sure that a platform with 300 million active users can ever really be classed as a ghost town. Quite frankly, if your home feed is quiet, to the point of ghostly stagnation, then it’s because you’re doing Plus wrong. You aren’t seeking enough Communities and individuals to connect with and, as a result, you won’t see anything of note in your home feed. It really is as simple as that. Imagine Facebook if you didn’t have any ‘Friends’ or didn’t ‘like’ any brands…
“Google+ is failing because Facebook is still the ‘go-to’ platform for peoples social media needs”
WRONG. Google never intended on using Plus as a ‘Facebook killer’. From their perspective, using Plus as a social skin, that will connect all of your Google affiliated accounts, is incredibly lucrative for them. They’re a business that thrive on data. The more data they can harvest, the better their advertising product will be for it’s customers. As you all - no doubt - know, targeted advertising is a big earner for Google.
“My target audience isn’t on Google+”
WRONG. You just haven’t found them yet. There are a huge array of Communities already established on Google+, it’s up to you too seek the relevant ones and join-in on the conversation. Once established among the Google+ world, your audience will begin to find you. If, incredibly, there isn’t already an established Community for your particular interest/specialty, then perhaps look into creating & managing a Community of your own. If you can’t find a relevant Community, chances are there are many others with the same issue, so become the authority instead.
Whilst there is a lot of disparity across the web, as to how Google chooses to rank posted content from Google+ among searches, we think you’d be a little foolish to believe anything other than it receiving favourable treatment from the search giant.
In fact, as Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Google) wrote in his book, ‘The Digital Age’:
"Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results".
So, for all intents and purposes, Mr Schmidt may as well have written, “Within search results, information tied to a completed, popular and actively used Google+ account, will be ranked higher than content without…”. There is huge value in brands having a well established, and highly valued, Plus account for this sole reason. In addition, and as we all know, Facebook posts, tweets and other forms of content hosted on social sites, gather very little traction with regards to page ranking.
Yes, of course, when used effectively they can still drive traffic in their own way. However, what if that brilliant piece of content, with the link to your site, that you just posted on Facebook - obtaining a sum of likes in minutes - also passed PageRank? Well, if you had posted it to Google+, it would have had that opportunity. This is no small factor and isn’t to be underestimated, particularly given Google’s seemingly never-ending quest for high quality, content driven, search results (see Google Panda).
If there’s any chance at all that your content and brand is going to receive a welcome boost in the page rankings, in exchange for utilising the platform, you’d be naive not to take advantage, surely?
Okay, so you’ve read the above and reached the stark realization, that Google+ is essential for you business, you’ve followed the step-by-step guide on Google+ and setup an account for yourself and a Google company page, but now what? Well, the next step is to get posting, sharing and +1’ing! I’ve composed a few tips, below, to get you ahead of the game.
11 Top Tips for Making the Most of Google+
In conclusion, if you’re a small to medium sized business - and aren’t already making the most of Plus - then we can’t help but feel that you’re missing out on a potential market place. Google+ is all about Communities and establishing friendships/relationships. As far as we’re concerned, and whilst Plus is likely to undergo a sum of changes over the coming months with Vic Gundotra (one of the creators of Google+ and a senior vice president of Google) leaving the company earlier this year, one thing’s for sure; Google+ isn’t likely to be going anywhere, anytime soon.
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