Google+ is not just another social network by Google. It is a serious business-marketing tool and channel, and should be treated as such. While some might think it’s dead, far be it from the truth. So what is this “Google+”? Well, basically it is an amalgamation of several services we already use, such as chat, video, sharing photos, blogs, and more. The idea, according to Google, is to do them better.
What is it?
Like other social networks, Google+ is a free online platform for business owners and social networkers to have a place where they can connect. At its core, Google+ is a simple directory of people and businesses, and as a business owner, you should use this “directory” to increase your visibility on Google and the internet. Sounds hard? Not really, you just have to know how to use it effectively. Not only can it be used to improve your visibility, but it is also a way in which to learn about businesses similar to your own which help you know how to compete and also educate you about a wide range of topics surrounding your business.
For example, if you type in a search for ‘plumbers Cape Town’ Google+ will determine all the relevant pages and usually give you a list of about 7 companies from A to G. The best or most popular results will be shown. You can then pick and choose the right ones for your business and your interests.
Google+ is a highly interactive connectivity tool. What this means is that if you have a subject that you are interested in, you can do a search about that subject and Google+ will provide a wide range of options from which to choose from. Once you connect with these groups, the business world is your oyster and you have the most recent information at your fingertips. Your business needs to be on Google+ for you to find new clients, grow your market and your own knowledge base. Let’s have a look at ‘How you use it’ before we tackle the very important question of ‘Why your business needs it’.
How to use it
Firstly you need to sign up with Google and get an account. This is a simple process whereby Google just needs to know who you are and that you are a real entity. You will then have access to Gmail as well which is a free email account. You email address will be used by Google to find your connections immediately, saving you a lot of time and effort. You can then place your contacts into what Google+ calls ‘circles’.
“Circles” groups your friends together
Circles are similar to your friends on Facebook – you get to choose them. The added benefit of circles, however, is that you can group people according to their common interests, or to your business’ common interests. As a result you won’t be posting information that is not relevant to your audience. In this way you are filtering information so that readers will find your articles valuable. Therefore you won’t be ‘spamming’ or ‘dumping’ content that they have no interest in. You will gain their trust and hopefully business from them.
Find interesting content based on your interest
Sparks is like Google Reader, except it brings content to you automatically based on your interests. Each topic (fashion, cars, etc.) will get its own “Spark” page and provide links to related articles, videos, photos, and more. If you think about it, it’s a great place to connect with likeminded people and customers and get great ideas for you next blog post.
Hangouts lets you video chat with all your contacts
Hangouts are virtual chat rooms where you can video chat with people in your circles. For example, need to do a video cast about a new product launch, then this is the perfect place.
Huddles is your group messaging app
Huddles is group messaging for people within your Circles, and the perfect place to have a conference call with sales reps on the road.
The best way to use Google+ is by USING IT! Like anything in life, practice makes perfect so as you spend time with this tool, you will discover the ‘ins and outs’ of how it works, and best of all, how it can effectively improve your business. Posting regular articles with valuable, unique content is definitely the best way to make your presence known and make Google (and potential customers) aware of the fact that your business is active and dependable.
Why your business needs it
As far as connecting your business with customers all over the world, nothing surpasses an optimised usage of Google+ business page. A simple search by a customer for what you are offering means that when Google+ suggests your company as a listing, you have reached someone you have never even spoken to before and you are right in their home or office. Times have changed since door-to-door marketing! Customers are no longer waiting for you to find them, on Google+ they are looking for you.
As a small business owner, you are aware of how difficult it is to get your website listed on Google’s search results, let alone cutting the grade to be on page one for a search term. With a basic business listing on Google+, you will already be beating the competition to be found. In fact, if you regularly use Google+, you are actively doing search engine optimisation by merely having a constant active presence on the internet.
So how do you get started?
Once you have created, your Gmail account all you need to do is to click on this link: www.google.co.za/business , and follow the instructions! What could be simpler?!
Still not convinced about Google+ for business? Then have a look at a few valuable reasons for listing your business on Google+
- Your company will be located above the standard search results
- Your business address, contact details, operating hours as well as a Google Maps link will be provided
- A description of what your business offers will be clearly stated
- Customer reviews on your products and services will be listed
- A link to your website will be provided
- Photographs, articles and even videos can be uploaded
- Customers can respond and reply to posts that you make
Most importantly of all – Google+ is FREE! As a small business spending money on marketing can be almost impossible if you don’t have capital. Of course you will still need to use other ways of marketing, but Google+ is one essential tool that every company has to have to grow their business.
So get started today – become visible and even indispensable to your customers by making sure you use this tool on a regular basis. Soon you will start receiving a steady flow of customers. What more could you want!