Google+ may not have taken off with as much of a bang as anticipated, but they are continuously rolling out new features that business owners should be aware of. Particularly lately, Google+ now offers a way to market to like-minded people via Google+ Communities. Although Google+ is not the most popular social networking site, it already has many vibrant communities. This way it presents new ways to interact with your audience.
What sets Google+ Communities apart from similar platforms, like Facebook groups, is that you can create and join Communities as your brand identity. Additionally, the activity inside your Google+ Communities, if you allow it, will be found inside Google search results, absolutely unlike Facebook. It’s also very convenient that Google+ has a very sleek interface that makes it easier for you to manage content sharing and communications.
Follow these five tips on how to use the Google+ Communities feature as a small business owner:
1. Marketing with Google+
If you don’t already have a presence on Google+, you’ll have to start there. Google+ Business as a marketing tool allows you to share valuable information about your business and interact with potential and current customers. Utilizing Google+ helps your business page to show up in local searches, compile ‘+1s’ (akin to ‘likes’) and customer reviews, and to drive traffic to your business’ website. For technical tips on the user interface, look here.
After creating your Google+ page, you’ll need to have it verified. Then optimize the page’s content for relevant and target searches. Link your Google+ page to your website and other social networks where you are already active. Now you are ready to promote your business’s page and organize your followers into Google+ Communities.
2. Build your own Communities
Creating your own Communities offers you the most flexibility. Start by brainstorming what main topics come to mind when people think about your brand, product, or service. Build a Community around each of these topics and invite all of your Google+ page’s current followers letting them know about this new opportunity to interact with you.
3. Post Engaging Content
If you’re choosing to lead these Communities, people will expect some kind of insight or relevant content to be posted by you in the Community. Treat this forum as you would a targeted email list of your clients and prospects, but feel free to be more creative. This way you will engage your audience more easily.
4. Use Communities for Customer Service
If your team is able to handle customer service online, consider integrating this service into a Google+ Community. Not only does this practice demonstrate transparency and show the web how sophisticated your customer service skills really are, it also creates a dialogue among other experienced customers and can help to save you the time and money dedicated to phone-based customer support.
If your community gets large, there will inevitably be spammer and trolls, so moderation will become key. The number one reason customers will leave a Community is because they’ll get frustrated with spam. You may need to remove or ban posters from time to time. You can invite other trusted members of your business to participate daily by moderating your Communities.
5. Participate in other Communities
In the case that you lack the capacity to start your own, dedicated Google+ Groups, you can also skip straight to this step after completing Step Number 1. Search internally through active and topically relevant Google+ Communities and join them. You can participate in conversations and post unique content. This can also be a useful platform for inviting members to check out your related Community (if you started them using Steps 2-4).
Google+ Communities are still in their early stages, so stay tuned to what increased functionality people will ask for and Google will provide. Then it’s up to you to continue to build your presence on Google+ if you’re reaping the rewards.
This is a guest post by freelance writer Marianne Ross for Yodle.com. Check out Yodle’s circles for updates on online marketing and tips on how to manage your business’s presence in social media.