20 November 2014 By Northern Lights
As our chief executive Victoria Tomlinson said in her recent blog called “Seven reasons why we have all got to love Google+”, I was handed the unenviable task of mastering the mysteries of Google+ and learning how businesses can truly benefit from this often misunderstood social media platform.
In the months that have followed I have marvelled at the potential of Google+ for business owners, I’ve raged at the computer as I’ve got lost in the myriad of options and, perhaps most of all, have sat in quiet dread as it began to dawn on me just how big Google+ could become in a few short years.
I should point out at the outset that I’ve long since accepted privacy is dead and I’ve sold my soul to Google. Every part of my life is now controlled by the Google Now app on my phone that tells me when to set off to a meeting so I can dodge traffic issues and when I need to respond to emails Google has helpfully read on my behalf.
Google knows all – if you don’t believe me, check out Google dashboard to see just how much it already knows about you. While I’m sure that terrifies many, it also means Google is a hugely powerful resource and the Google+ platform now underpins everything they do.
Google+ cannot be ignored and here I’ve shared some of the top tips I’ve picked up along the way to help you harness the power of this “sleeping” online giant.
The most important aspect of Google+ by far is the impact it can have on the way you appear in search engines. Everybody recognises that, if you want to succeed in business, you have to be found on page one of Google for the services you offer.
Google+ offers a very quick route to this hallowed ground. Google is determined that its social media offer will prevail, so any content you post on Google+ is indexed faster and also ranked more highly. The result is that you will quickly see your insights, news and services appearing on page one if you post all online updates to Google+ along with your other usual outlets.
Google+ aims to be all things to all men and they may have found a way to do that. Unlike other social media platforms you can choose exactly what your contacts are able to see.
By grouping people into individual circles like “friends”, “business contacts” or “investors”, you can then publish individual items to each circle, thus ensuring your next big meeting isn’t tarnished by those embarrassing photos from the staff Christmas party.
Think Skype, but with a lot more functionality. Hangouts is essentially free video calling but it allows you to invite large audiences to join the session. This service is rapidly growing in popularity and has added bonuses like showing people your desktop or presentations.
It’s a fantastic tool for increasing your exposure and, in addition to using it for simple video calls, can be used to make important announcements, stage online Q&A sessions or host workshops and webinars.
The most exciting thing you can do with the majority of social media platforms is add a picture. However, with Google+ you can format text, include video and web links and add images and even gifs (animated images).
You can use simple commands to bold-up, italicise or strikethrough your text (details in the image above) and this can add significant emphasis to your writing.
Always use a headline and always make it bold. The key is to always make headlines as descriptive as possible as this will be the description that appears in Google searches when you pop-up on page one.
Another useful function is to use the “interactive post” option which encourages readers to take a specific action like answer a survey question, sign up for a newsletter or reserve a table at a restaurant for example.
Ripples are a really important tool for growing your network and ensuring your message is heard. On each Google+ post in your timeline, there’s a small drop down menu in the top right corner and one of the options is “ripples”.
This provides an image of how the post has grown and been shared and helps you to quickly identify those with the biggest reach – the key influencers. When you know who they are, you can tag them in your own posts by using “handles” – eg @BenPindar – and they will then be encouraged to share your post and/or comment on it, helping you to communicate further.
In part two of the blog, I’ll share five more tips on finding success with Google+ and I’ll also explain why you can no longer afford to ignore this social media platform.
If you have any tips, please share them with our readers in the comments box below.