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Webucator's Free Google+ Tutorial

Lesson: Google+

Welcome to our free Google+ tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Google+ Training course.

In this lesson, you will learn how Google+ can be part of your overall marketing strategy.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn about using Google+ for branding purposes.
  • Learn about using Google+ for sales opportunities.
  • Learn about using Google+ for SEO benefits.
  • Learn about using Google+ for support and customer service functions.
  • Learn about setting up an internal Google+ policy.
  • Learn about tools, services, and management.
  • Learn about tracking activity and results from using Google+.

Google+ for Branding

There are numerous ways to use Google+ to engage with current and prospective customers. You will need to decide how to showcase your brand on Google+ and how much time to devote to this platform.

Things to understand about Google+ before we dive too deep include:

  • Profile: Users must have either a Gmail or Google Apps email account to register for Google+. Also, any personal user can set up a company page, and personal and company pages have similar features.
  • Circles: Users can create circles, such as family, friends, acquaintances, etc., and then place individuals or companies within one or more circles. Users can then deliver different content to different circles.
  • Hangout: Users can use hangouts to host video chats/meetings with up to nine attendees. This is a great collaborative tool.

Interacting on Google+ is similar to interacting on Facebook: users post content and it shows up on all followers' walls. Consider the example post below from Pete Cashmore of Mashable.com:

For an alternate view, check out this screen shot from AT&T's profile:

Note that it is very similar to a Facebook company page, with logo, images, followers, and posts.

Google+ Company Examples

Duration: 15 to 25 minutes.

In this exercise, you will research what other companies are doing on Google+.

Search for two of your favorite brands on Google+ and determine how they are using Google+ to engage their customers.

Solution:

Lets take a look at the Angry Birds Google+ profile page. It is one of the most popular with over 6 million followers.

Looking at their engagement, you can see in the screenshot below how they promote their brand.

With the combined use of relevant promotional messaging and calls-to-action, such as "+1" each post, they increase the overall brand awareness.

Think of how you might use Google+ to your company's benefit.

Google+ for Sales

Similar to Facebook, Google+ can be used to promote special offers and to publicize your latest product and service offerings. Once again, keep in mind that deals and discounts are a top reason that clients engage with companies via social media.

Some examples of ways you can use Google+ to assist with sales include:

  1. Offer early access to your latest product or service for free (also plays into a research/development opportunity).
  2. Offer a discount for following you (one-time discount, Google+ only promo code, etc.).
  3. Promote your latest products/services on your wall every time a new one comes out.

When you post links on Google+, make sure to tag the links using the Google URL Builder so you can determine successes.

The following screenshot shows Amazon's page and their promotion of their daily deal:

Google+ for SEO

When we discuss SEO and social media platforms, Google+ seems to be the clear winner at the moment. Not only is there an opportunity for your shared content to show up on a Google search, search results are now highlighted if any of your Google+ followers have shared a web page. Google's goal is to provide the most relevant search results possible, taking into account both:

  1. The search itself.
  2. The searcher and his/her community.

The screenshot below shows the result of a Google search for AT&T. check out the bottom result: their Google+ page and their latest post:

The following is the top result for a Google search by the author of this course for best Google+ company page. It shows up first because the author is a follower of Pete Cashmore on Google+:

If your company's main goal with social media is to help with SEO, then you want to actively use Google+.

Google+ for Support

As with Facebook, Google+ is a great content dissemination tool. It provides an additional opportunity to share and address your customer's pain points, as we discussed in the blogging lesson. With that, any customer service-oriented blogs you've developed should be promoted on your company Google+ page.

Your customer support representatives should consider making use of the Circles function of Google+ to send relevant content to appropriate audiences. For example, if you represent a software company and you are connected to major clients on Google+, you may want to divide those clients into different circles according to the software they have purchased.

Another opportunity with Google+ is to spark chat discussions. Do you need feedback on your latest product version? Are you interested in hearing what customers like about your latest offering? Your company could start a hangout and invite followers to discuss.

Google+ Policy

When we look at policy for Google+, the same considerations as we've been discussing are important.

  • Point-of-Contact: Your company should determine one person or a team internally that can handle all of Google+ interaction.
  • Content: Your company should determine a policy stating which employees post on behalf of the company, so there is no confusion about who can represent the company's interests. This should also include a policy on whether or not employees are allowed to respond to posts through their personal profiles.
  • Comment Response: Your company should create a protocol on who responds to comments and on how negative responses are handled.

Be sure to remind employees to be careful when posting. Since Google+ has so many different sharing options, it's possible to share something with the wrong circle. A Google employee actually made this mistake shortly after the platform came out in October 2011 by posting a rant complaining about the Google+ platform.

Tools, Services, and Management

Google+ is a fairly new social media platform and there are new tools and services coming out regularly.

There are many third-party extensions that you can add to your browser for easy ways to interact with your Google+ wall without physically visiting your company page. These are specific to each browser.

One group of tools that is gaining popularity are Google+ URL shorteners. By default, your personal and company pages will include a long string of characters, as seen in the screenshot below for Webucator's page:

One popular shortener is www.gplus.to. It's fast and easy to make a custom URL, as seen in the screenshot below for Webucator's page:

Management

Some things to consider from a management perspective are:

  1. Make sure you have a specific policy related to who can post on behalf of your company.
  2. Encourage employees to help provide content for Google+ posts.
  3. Google+ has fewer active users than other platforms but more SEO benefit. Consider how much time should be committed to Google+

Tracking Activity and Results

Results from your Google+ pages can vary from company to company and from category to category. There are several measurements you'll want to focus on:

  1. How much traffic are you getting to your website from Google+?
  2. Are your calls-to-action working on your page? Are followers engaging with your brand?
  3. Is Google+ helping your SEO? Are your posts turning up in search?

Internal Google+ Opportunities

Duration: 15 to 25 minutes.

In this exercise, you will eevelop thoughts on your company's use of Google+.

Develop three ways your company can use Google+. Consider how you might best use:

  1. A company profile.
  2. Individual profiles.
  3. Circles.
  4. Hangouts.

Also consider how you might target search results using your posts. What are some keywords that you might target using Google+?

Solution:

As Google+ is a new and ever-evolving social media tool, it will take some time to determine how your company might best use the platform. Consider some of the options presented above to help guide your initial decisions.

For this solution, lets look at one specific angle - individual profiles within a company. Consider the screenshot below from Michael Dell, CEO of Dell.

Michael Dell is a big fan of Google+ so he had their social media team develop and manage a company Dell account, but he also has his CEO channel. It's pretty popular with over 300,000 followers.

While he would be free to speak his mind, he spends most time posting about Dell initiatives and his thoughts behind them. This might be a good example for companies to follow - putting a personal touch on the CEO position.

Have fun testing out Google+ opportunities for your brand!