If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d know that I am both a fan of Google+ and someone who is willing to admit that it isn’t always worth the extra effort to join as a business. That’s not a knock on Google+. That statement is true for almost all of the social media networks. It isn’t always worth it to get on Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or even Facebook. Deciding which social network to join takes some serious introspection into what your business needs are and whether a network satisfies those needs. Today, we’ll discuss a few scenarios that will make Google+ an essential element in a social mix.
For a long time, the play to get businesses has been the SEO play. While this is a strong factor in my recommendations for joining Google+, it is no longer the only one.
You Depend on Reviews
If your business depends on reviews (especially as a destination), you should be on Google+. If you’re either a hotel or a restaurant, it should be a no-brainer to get yourself on Google+. The Google Carousel is largely influenced by what your review mix looks like. If you want to appear towards the front, you should be actively seeking to attract reviews. It’s easier to not seem spammy about asking for a Google+ review if it happens to be somewhere that you already have a strong presence.
The bottom line is that local search will integrate more and more with Google+ as Google moves forward with its products and Google+ adoption grows. Don’t be behind the curve. Get ahead of it.
Pro Tip: Don’t depend on Google+ as the best way to actually find people for reviews. I highly recommend setting up some geocode filters on Twitter to listen for people who are talking about your brand. Build a legitimate conversation with them on another platform and then invite them in to review your business. The key is it feeling like a friend asking for a favor, not a brand asking for a review. (Learn about geocode filters.)
You Have a Brick-and-Mortar Location
As I mentioned in the previous point, Google+ has a definite play in the land of SEO, especially as it relates to local search. Google+ has gone back and forth about how deep this integration is but, with the introduction of My Business, I feel that Google+ will once again become a stronger player in local search results. Having an awesome page to click to can be a decision maker in a pinch. If you don’t believe that having beautiful pictures is a factor, do a user behavior analysis on your website and see if photo gallery isn’t one of the largest subsections that people visit before converting. I did this test with my travel resorts in Florida, Jamaica, Las Vegas, and North Carolina. My galleries were always incredibly close to my conversion point in the user behavior.
An important thing to remember is to not treat your Google+ audience like second class social citizens. The same way that you would give incentives to Facebook fans or Twitter followers, show some love to people who’ve circled you on Google+. As adoption gets greater, you want your fans to have the same expectations for awesome perks and news as any other social network.
You Put Out Content on a Regular Basis
Google+ is a great place to place content if you are trying to get your blog or articles indexed quickly. While most of the tests in this area are old, there is still a generally accepted correlation between content getting shared on Google+ and quick indexing by Google Search. Building on this, Google+ is still an easier place to make noise than other social networks. With Twitter being so quick and Facebook moving closer to a pay-to-play model, Google+ is rapidly becoming a more attractive place to share content. As a fan of seeding my content for ‘free’ amplification, I love Google+. In fact, among the major social networks, I would suggest that Google+ provides the best opportunity for seeding branded content. Take the time to join Communities that relate to your business and share articles inside of those Communities. It’s free and puts your content in front of people who are more highly influential on a per capita basis than many other networks.
You Have a Male-dominated Audience
Much in the same way that Pinterest is a place dominate by women, Google+ is currently dominated by men. According to research by Business Insider, Google+ is as much as 70% men. This could explain part of the reason that brands like Ask Men and IGN are doing so well on this network. It’s a great way to hit their target audience on a regular basis without getting dominated like they do in the Facebook News Feed. So, if you feel like your brand connects particularly well with a male audience, especially teens to early 20’s, take a second look at Google+.
You Are in Technology or Gaming
You could say that this point is a branch of the first but I don’t think so. Women are becoming more involved in both technology and gaming. This is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored and deserves its own point. Google+ is still a place where early adopters live and can see great success regardless of gender. The largest Google+ following that I know personally belongs to +Amanda Blain who has over 4.5 million followers and a very engaged audience. (Read her blog for more great Google+ info and geek awesomeness.)
You’re New to Social Media
Many social media experts have suggested that Google+ might be a great place to go with Facebook becoming more pay-to-play. Rather than pay a lot of money to get into the News Feed, why not examine if there isn’t an audience that you can reach for the price of your time on Google+. It isn’t quite as easy on the front end but it could end up being the best social media decision that you could make. building up a strong Twitter or Facebook following could be much harder given the highly competitive nature of both networks. Go where the competition is a little lower and build a core on Google+, branching out to Twitter and Facebook later if deemed necessary.
The conclusion that I’m trying to walk you to is that Google+ is no longer a ghost in the darkness when it comes to the social media landscape. There are plenty of examples of brands that do it well. There are many reasons to reconsider your Facebook-first or Twitter-only strategies these days. Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram have all proven to be networks that can drive legitimate amounts of business and at a much cheaper rate. Don’t follow the crowd. Find your own voice in social media and you might just find your own success.