Is Google+ worth the time that small businesses would need to set it up and be active on it? Much of what I read said that this was the perfect time to get involved. Given the changes this social media platform experienced mid-May 2013, it is a good idea to go see what Google+ is all about and how your business can get in on the ground floor of what might be a golden opportunity before you dismiss it.
Just the analytics
The network now has 190 million people visiting plus.google.com each month, as well as 390 million logged-in Google account holders using its features monthly in at least one Google product. It has one of the world’s most powerful data centers at its disposal. A major drawback in the past was has been that men made up 64.18% of the users with women only accounting for 27.87%. With 41 new features Google Plus is now morphing into something that makes greater use of what Google does best—anticipate the needs of its users, show them relevant news and information, and help them manage massive amounts of data. My bet is that more women are going to start using Google+ in the future since several of those new features are Pinterest-like in nature.
Christopher Null has this to say in his May 2013 article Does Google+ matter for small businesses?
For small business owners, you can be forgiven if you find Google+ to be a confusing waste of time, but it still makes sense to create a Page for your company and keep it reasonably up to date with at least one post every week or two. Why? Because even if Google+ doesn't do anything for overall SEO, it’s at least one more place that helps with your overall visibility on the web.
Businesses can create brand/business pages. Pages can link to your physical location (if you are a business of that type), they can enable content to be managed in new ways, and they can also help reach your audience. So, the ‘why participate' question really dependents upon what you want to achieve. It could be anything from getting ‘eyeballs’ on your content or even internal communication with staff through to communicating with an existing audience in a new way.
Keep in mind that most of your competition will eventually be on Google+. If you choose to set up your page now, you are in a perfect position to have more clients attracted to your page by shear longevity than your johnny-come-lately competitors.
Some pages will take time to build a following, so be patient! Some will just fly immediately, of course, but this is a marathon not a sprint, so keep it steady and they will build over time.
One of the most interesting concepts that Google+ offers is called Google+ Hangouts, now with a free stand-alone version, which is a fancy live video streaming platform that can actually have people, a lot of people, talking (not texting) together at the same time. Businesses can use this to create events where you can share and can promote your brand. YouTube can record your hangout and index it in Google Search. This makes hangouts a good way to use your keywords in the title and the text. You might want to get a transcript done to add to the YouTube site.
I spent some time with Google+ communities and here I was disappointed. Most of the communities are based on personal interests. Those based on a kind of business are not very well populated. I did find a few general business-related communities:
- Small Business Marketing
- Small Business
- Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed & Small Business
To see a continuously updated list of communities go to CircleCount.
Again, I want to emphasize that you can get in on the ground floor with this and create a community with members who have the same interests as you do. You can also go on sites with your target market group as long as you don’t do any blatant self-promotion and you do observe Google+ etiquette.
- Google+ just got a facelift so old analytics are going to change.
- As it is right now, Google+ is male-dominated. I anticipate that will change.
- Businesses, whomever they are targeting, should create a business page.
- Businesses have a golden opportunity to set up business pages and communities that will be well-established and will grow faster than their competitors who are staying away from Google+.
- A good way to use Google+ for business is to hold hangout events.
Are you currently using Google+? If you have been using it, what do you think of it?
Jaco Grobbelaar is the owner of BroadVision Marketing. BroadVision Marketing works with business owners to put in place inbound and outbound marketing strategies that consistently secure new clients. The BroadVision Marketing Training Center is located in Petaluma, CA and primarily serves companies in the San Francisco Bay area.