If you’ve been on the web in the last few weeks, you are well aware of the buzz surrounding Google’s new social network: Google Plus.
Forward-thinking efforts of companies like Ford and Mashable jumped into early company adoption and use of the network. Though Google has announced brand pages are coming soon, it’s discouraging the use of personal Google+ profiles as branded company pages.
So what are we to do? How can content marketers like you and I apply this new social network in our everyday business practices?
Here are three ideas you can steal to get you and your content marketing team started with Google+.
1. Google+ can help with content marketing and distribution
Distributing other individuals’ and businesses’ content is not a new idea for content marketers. We all understand the web is a business sandbox where playing nicely and supporting the marketing efforts of others pays long-term dividends as long as content marketers remain genuine with their gestures of support.
When we share the content of business partners, industry influencers and even our competitors at times are more likely to share the content that we create. Up until Google+ came along, content sharing was a cumbersome process at best:
- You identified the third-party content that was relevant to your target audience.
- Relevant content sources were set up in readers or alerts, most commonly using Google application for RSS or email delivery.
- That content was read, vetted, and then re-posted using a combination of third-party tools, such as browser applets and plugins, social media engagement dashboards, and URL shorteners (e.g., Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc.).
Following these steps in a daily distribution routine result in a high numbers of clicks, lots of copying and pasting, and lots of movement between browser tabs and desktop applications. But it also requires a significant investment of human time and energy, which can be costly.
Google+ Sparks might be one of the coolest and most overlooked features that Google+ has to offer content marketers. Essentially, Google+ Sparks provides an easy-to-use version of Google alerts that lives directly in your Google+ dashboard.
What makes Google+ Sparks valuable is that once the content is delivered as a result of your search, you can immediately share it across your various Google+ Circles with one simple click (more on Google+ Circles below). There’s no need for any copying or pasting or even the use of a browser plugin or applet to share within your networks.
Tip: While there’s a lot of room for Google+ Sparks to grow with enhancements, for now it can be a pretty effective tool if you know your way around Boolean search operators. For reference, the previously mentioned link will take you to a complete list of boolean search operators you can bookmark and use to narrow your results.
2. You can use Google+ Circles to get the pulse on popular content
Another advantage of Google+ is the speed of real time, coupled with the ease of sharing mentioned above.
Google+ users, who today for the most part include early internet adopters and influencers, are busy nearly every minute sharing content within the system. This provides an opportunity for you to set up specific circles of the individual users who share content that’s most relevant to your customer audience. And, if you’d like some help finding those content influencers, you can always pay a visit to the new Google+ User Directory.
Tip: You can set up as many circles as you like. I’ve recently developed a five-point framework that you can use to organize your Google+ Circles, starting first with a broad focus and then narrowing to smaller, niche circles.
At any rate, using Google+ in an almost inverted way to source content and share it across your business’s other social media channels will save you time and enhance the third-party content you share.
3. Google+ can be used for content marketing team collaboration
I think the world will soon discover the real benefit of using Google+ lies in team collaboration.
Today, project management and business collaboration tools hosted in the cloud are scattered and, for the most part, limited in terms of features and integration with the other software we use in everyday business operations. Sure, corporations with enough dollars have had Sharepoint for years, and it works decently. Smaller companies use applications like Basecamp and Highrise or Zoho Projects to create efficiencies among content marketing teams.
Google+ has the most potential to completely revolutionize the way content marketers collaborate by providing the following features free of charge:
- Google+ Circles can be used to capture the updates and information of a group of collaborators of any size and in any location. You can create as many as you wish.
- Google+ Huddles brings the idea of simple, proven and real-time chat rooms directly to your screens or mobile devices.
- Google+ Hangouts lets you virtually meet as a group with a few simple clicks, giving you the advantage of seeing the non-verbal communication of your fellow collaborators while providing some additional sharing features.
- Google+ Sparks helps to keep you in the know on whatever you want, making it as easy as a click to share that information with your teams.
- Google+ Plugin plugs neatly into your browser, giving you real-time visibility to team communication without having to look for it.
- Google Search Home Page now comes with a handy navigation menu that gives you one-click access to almost all the other products we use on Google today. I’m willing to bet we will see maps integration soon.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Google+ and if you are already using it in any of these ways. Feel free to chime in on the comments with war stories, questions or ideas of your own.