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Webucator's Free Introduction to Social Media Tutorial

Lesson: Google+

Welcome to our free Introduction to Social Media tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Introduction to Social Media Training course.

Google+ is the newest of the social media covered in this course. As previously mentioned, there is potential for SEO benefit with this platform because it's a Google property. This social media platform offers multiple engagement opportunities for companies to consider. Here are the main components we will focus on in this lesson.

  1. Overall Google+ engagement.
  2. Opportunities between personal and company pages.

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.

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 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 develop 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+?