Google+ (or Google Plus) is a social networking and identity service. It is more than a social network, it’s a kind of binding that glues together various services from Google. It’s also an important social channel to be involved with because of it’s influence on search optimisation and search rankings.
Google has described Google+ as a “social layer” that enhances many of its online properties, and that it is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author.
Whilst you might know or use Google+ as a social network, it is a very active one, with loyal and dedicated users and communities. Google+ has over 500 million monthly active users. They mostly take part in the Identity service site, by interacting socially with Google+’s enhanced properties, like Gmail, +1 button, and YouTube comments. Not all use Google+ as a social network however, with many using its identity features over any social interaction.
Starting in November 2011, Google+ profiles are used as the glue for many Google services including YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Android, Google Play, Google Music, Google Voice, Google Wallet, Google Local and more. So you can probably appreciate why your business should be on this.
Circles is a core feature of the Google+ Social Platform. It enable users to organize people into groups or lists for sharing across the different Google products and services.
The “Stream” which is positioned in the middle of three columns on the page is the place where users see updates from those people in their Circles. There is an input box which allows users to enter a post. Along with the text entry field there are icons to upload and share photos and videos. The Stream can be filtered to show only posts from specific Circles.
Hangouts are free video conferencing calls with up to 10 people, done through the Google+ website or mobile app. Many apps can be used inside the hangout, allowing users to share documents, a scratchpad or their screens with other users. As well as many built-in apps such as YouTube, Google Docs, and the new Capture
Google+ has a “+1 button” to allow people to recommend sites and parts of sites, similar in use to Facebook’s Like button.
Google+ Pages allows businesses to connect with fans or followers. Similar to Facebook pages, it allows entities which are not individuals (such as businesses, organisations and publications) to set up profiles or “pages”, for the posting and syndication of posts.
Google+ Communities allow users to create ongoing conversations about particular topics. Google+ Communities can also be created and managed under Google+ Page accounts.
Google+ Events allows users to add events, invite people, and then share photos and media in real-time from the event. Google+ Events is integrated with Google Calendar.
In 2014, Google combined Google Places and Google+ Local Business Pages with the Google My Business product. The product uses the interface of Google+ but has many more features including insights and analytics.
As you can see there are a lot of concepts to grasp – probably more than any other social network we cover, but over time and with a bit of use they do start to make sense!
Your Google+ Profile
Make sure you get and then keep your Google+ profile up-to-date at all times. Follow our guide below for the essentials:
1. Write your story – your tagline, an introduction paragraph to your business and ‘bragging rights’ – your achievements.
2. Add your communities (or join some if you are new) – the Google+ communities
3. Fill in your links – your website, Youtube and custom links
4. Add your contact information – email, phone and physical address
Image Size Reference
Profile Picture – 250px x 250px
Cover Image – 1080px x 608px (Recommended – but can be maximum 2120px x 1192px)
Shared Image – 497 x 373 (displays as is)
Shared Link – 150 x 150 (Thumbnail)
Shared Video – 496px wide
About Shared Images
A Shared Image appears in the home stream and on page at a width of 426 pixels (height is scaled).
– Minimum width of 497 pixels (will scale the height for you).
– Maximum upload 2,048 x 2,048 pixels.
– Shared Link – 150 x 150 (thumbnail)
About Shared Links
Use this to share a link with people in targeted ‘circles’. The image is actually pulled through from the website so make sure the post or page you are linking to has a relevant image in it (and not just your logo).
Google+ Tips & Tricks
If something is popular on Twitter and Facebook, cross post it to Google+
Post valuable content on Community pages – don’t just post content to your “public” stream – unless you have lots of followers already. Posting to relevant community pages will attract other users to you, your stream and your website.
Write long messages in Google+ and then Tweet the link – this extends what you are trying to communicate in Twitter.
Devote serious attention to your profile – there’s plenty of content you can add into it, so try and start off with as much of it completed as possible.
Use keywords you want to be associated with – in your profile and in the content that you post.
Add strong visual clues with image rich content.
Write compelling titles – Google+ is different to other social platforms in that you can create titles for your updates. In this way Google+ is like a micro-blogging platform.
Use hashtags the same way you use them in Twitter.
Format for attention – use the formatting options available to make your content easier to read and key phrases and words stand out.
Use your words – write longer updates. Unlike Twitter where you are restricted to a certain amount of characters you can write lengthy updates on Google+. Use this to your advantage by writing mini blog posts.
Smart targetted sharing – when sharing content choose who you want it to go to by using Circles.
Monitor your Effectiveness
As with all of your social media activity you should monitor the effectiveness of your efforts by analysing your Google Analytics for the level of referrals from Google+, the bounce rates and ultimately the number of conversions/goal achievements from this channel. This gives you the actual data on whether the hours you spend on this particular social media platform is worth doing.
- If you are not already on this social platform, register an account.
- Get your profile fully up-to-date and seeded with 5 – 10 updates or postings.
- Make a genuine commitment to posting good content on a regular basis. Start with weekly and then more than once a week.
- Prepare some good quality photographs and images to use on postings – make it a part of your marketing activity.
- After a few weeks start looking for this social channel in Google Analytics referrals. What are the trends?
- Interact with others – make friends on this channel and expand your existing network.
- Check out your competitors and learn from them. Who do they follow? What sort of content are they posting? Are there any gaps in what they are doing?
As ever, get in touch if you have any questions…