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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why Google+ is so Important for your Business

As everyone knows Google+ launched the long awaited business pages last week. It was interesting to watch everyone test the waters where almost everyone raced to get their page live but really only the content based (TV, Radio and other news) business have leverage it heavily.

Sure it is another social channel and yes it is going to require some additional effort but if you need proof on why this is important take a look at the search results below

Google is greatly advantaging the businesses that consumers are connecting with the additional call out. Couple this with the fact that your ads will now also show your Google +1 from your page and you can quickly see that you need to engage your customer base now. So if you don't have a page yet go get it build.

So now what to do next (after your Google+ Business page is built):

1. First you need to start contributing content on your Google+ page, at this point it can be the same content strategy as your Facebook and/or twitter page but you need to get a flow going.  Conversation is going to be different (and using ripples you will have better visibility into it reach) but consumers are going to want to see some form of communication not just a blank page.

2. Get your company behind it.  This is a great way to start the network growing, ask your team / company to add the page to a circle and share it with their friends and family.  If you have a group of pages make sure they are adding each other and sharing their content in the early days.

3. Add the Google+ buttons to your site. This needs to be both the Google+ page button as well as the +1 button. The +1 button should be page specific across your site, very similar to what you are doing with the Facebook Like button.  The goal is to make it easy for customers to share your content. This is critical for SEO as you want the individual pages shared not just the overall site.

4. Engage your other social networks.  Push people from your Facebook pages and Twitter account to the Google+ page. You have an audience that has already expressed interest in your content/brand/company so make sure that you letting these people know you are active on Google+

5. Experiment with content.  Google+ is still an evolving platform but with the photo, video and broadcast (hangout) capabilities this is a chance to establish a Google+ brand for yourself.  If your company is in a weak position in Facebook or Twitter vs your competitor this is the time to redouble your efforts and cement your position in the new social network.

Now to the question that everyone is asking: should I wait to see if Google+ is going to be a success?  The problem with this question is that if you wait by the time you determine success or failure for Google+ it will be too late.  I think the best way to look at this question is how Google is integrating Google+ into all of it products.  To me Google+ will naturally evolve and grow with Google.  Google's goal is not to build another Facebook but to add a social layer onto Google.  From this perspective I think they have achieved or, at least, are very close to making it a success.  Unlike Wave or Buzz I believe that Google+ is here to stay.

So no matter if you are a big brand or small local business (I think that for small business Google+ is even more important to get on board now) you need to spend some time building your presence out.  The 5 above steps could easily be accomplished in a few days so the only thing holding you back is yourself.

Good luck and have fun with Google+!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Building Customer Stories with Social Media

A very interesting use of social media that shows how to drive unexpected customer delight.  Engagement with a brand is all about building stories with them and although they talk about the impressions as if it was a campaign at the end of the video the real win here is the long term emotional connection they built at an individual level.  What they did with this is create brand advocates that should continue to tell stories (and build the brand) for years to come.