By Nate Riggs published July 19, 2011

3 Ways To Use Google Plus In Your Content Marketing Efforts

Google PlusIf 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:

  1. You identified the third-party content that was relevant to your target audience.
  2. Relevant content sources were set up in readers or alerts, most commonly using Google application for RSS or email delivery.
  3. 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.

3 Ways to Use Google Plus for Content Marketing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Google+ Huddles brings the idea of simple, proven and real-time chat rooms directly to your screens or mobile devices.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Google+ Plugin plugs neatly into your browser, giving you real-time visibility to team communication without having to look for it.
  6. 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.

Sound fair?

Author: Nate Riggs

Nate Riggs is one of the top strategists in the Midwest specializing in content marketing for multi-unit restaurant chains.  Over the past decade, he's helped brands that include Bob Evans, Donatos Pizza, Wendy’s, Claddagh Irish Pubs and numerous others adopt new processes, tools and the habits that help them reach audiences, increase guest counts and comparable sales. Nate also produces The Social Restaurant Podcast, the industry's most popular weekly talk show for restaurant marketers. You can follow him on Twitter @nateriggs.

Other posts by Nate Riggs

  • Jonathan Saipe

    Interesting post. If G+ can build its critical mass quickly then it’ll certainly give FB a run for its money as the functionality is clearly up there. I particularly like the circles functionality as it is effectively doing the job of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook by allowing simple segmentation of friends, acquaintances and people you simply want to follow.

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      It really does have all the potential in the world to become a very useful business collaboration network, with the right integration from Google in terms of the existing apps.  That said, I don’t think G+ is going after Facebook — I think they are going after Microsoft’s enterprise business.  Exchange server, Sharepoint, etc.  Google can deliver all of this in the cloud as long as they can get permissions and privacy locked down.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent tips Nate. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Glad it was helpful!  Thanks for checking it out!

  • http://www.reportcontentwriter.com/ Rachel Agheyisi

    I never get tired of learning from the excellent posts on this forum.
    Thanks Nate for this article. I hope it’s one of more to come on the topic!

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Thanks for the compliment, Rachel! :)  I’m working on some other ideas for CMI right now.  And, I have some stuff on my own blog if you’re interested in more ideas on how to use Google Plus. :)  http://bit.ly/oAnu7R

  • Scott Frangos

    Hi Nate -

    Great column — thanks.  What about authentic, real-time engagement, beyond just collaboration with your team, and beyond simply listening for a pulse?  I think of this as an opportunity to visit an online tradeshow booth in real time and engage personally with prospects, clients, and colleagues outside of the Content Marketing team in order to engage with them directly, since in the end… people don’t buy from “Content” — they buy from people they believe they know.  — Cheers

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Great comment, Scott!  I agree with you and totally support the power of real-time and genuine engagement that can happen outside of collaboration.  What I don’t buy is that G+ is a Facebook killer. The majority of average FB users who only get on to connect with friends and play social games don’t have enough benefit to switch everything over to G+.  

      On the conversation side of things, G+ (for now) is kind of like an echo-chamber for talk on G+.  That’s not surprising either, but it does limit engagement to those nerdy-types (like yours truly) who want to dissect every aspect of what the platform offers. I think that in itself limits the conversations a bit by making it somewhat intimidating to join.Likewise, we don’t know enough yet as to how Google is going to handle brands on G+. What we do know is that Google has come out and asked that businesses/brands do not use profiles as business pages.  http://bit.ly/o3vZuO – although, not many folks are actually listening to that request.It will be interesting to see what Google does with brand pages and how they integrate advertising.

      • Scott Frangos

        Hi Nate -  the jury is not in yet about whether Google+ will kill Facebook, but I think it is going to hurt it for these reasons:  It’s an open network where Facebook is closed; the android platform factor (local streams near you with alerts on your phone); the SEO factor; the enhanced engagement factor; and other features lurking in the wings including real-time translation (was scheduled to deploy in WAVE).  Agreed this is going to be interesting to watch.  Cheers!

        • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

          I agree with everything you said, Scott.  But, again, all the features you mention (and you’re absolutely right) is important to business folks, content marketers and SEO guru’s. The vast majority of FB users are teachers, mechanics, corporate 9-5′ers, college and high-school kids, Farmville players, sports fans, etc.  You get the picture — I’ll argue that MOST people on FB don’t care about business tools or market places. They see FB as a place to hang out and talk with a select amount of friends. Open networking means little to the majority.

          From a business standpoint, look at the new FB video chat with Skype. Skype could have easily integrated multi user chat, application sharing and other collaborative tools that exist on the paid version of Skype. Instead, you get a bare bones tool that has one function and purpose — users can easily call each other from FB and see each other when they talk.We’ll have to wait and see, but my gut tells me that FB and G+ will co-exist with G+ owning business folks like you and I, and FB owning everyone who isn’t doesn’t care.  And, that would be okay in my book. :)

          • Scott Frangos

            Good points, Nate.  I’m praying — PRAYING that Farmville does not find its way onto Google+  :)    I am thinking you might be right about co-existence for a while, but it seems like in the end only 3 networks, brands, companies, etc. rise to the top.  Maybe FB becomes a game location, G+ becomes business and social, with Twitter for quick messaging.  Not sure where that would leave LinkedIN… but they seem secure in their fostering of resumes, and business focus.

          • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

            I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that — LinkedIn is in jeopardy unless they go after owning the job market. And, I think they can, but only if they want to… 

  • http://urgentessays.co.uk/ essays

    it is everywhere… unbelievable!

  • http://twitter.com/Thoora Thoora

    @google-03a721dfab8ff03cf59dc005466ad8dc:disqus @nateriggs:disqus Following on Scott’s comment “people don’t buy from “Content” – they buy from people they believe they know”, what are your thoughts on content consumers’ reception to brands and more specifically the coming G+ brand pages? 
    (Aside, fav comment so far is “G+ (for now) is kind of like an echo-chamber for talk on G+” – nicely put Nate!)Thanks for reading.Renée, Thoora

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Thanks for the comment, Renee. Twitter was like that too and to some extent, still is. Then again, stories about Facebook spread very well on Facebook according to some of Dan Zeralla’s work.  Wonder what if this trend is worth looking into?

  • Rbarnes

    How do you see Google+ vs. LinkedIn?

  • Rbarnes

    How do you see Google+ vs. LinkedIn?

    • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

      Pulling out the crystal ball… :)

      Seriously, I see LinkedIn becoming a niche network for job hunters and recruiters, It already is to some extent and I don’t think that LinkedIn can really fight that tied any longer. And why on earth would they want to? They can own the job placement market.

      Where Google + wins is that while the audience seems to be somewhat business oriented right now and similar to LI’s audience, Google has the advantage of a variety of applications and tools that already drive business collaboration in the small and mid-sized business sector. I just don’t think LinkedIn can compete for that.

      At the end of the day, it comes down to business folks wanting to “be” on a social network, or wanting to be able to “do” things on a social network.

      Google is primed for the “do”.

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    I use Google+ Circles as a notepad of sorts for quoting other friends in my articles. I wrote about it here: http://thehomespunlife.com/?p=1440 it’s more than just bookmarking.. and by the way.. would love to see the Google 1+ button on your posts.

  • Christine B. Whittemore

    Nate, 

    I love how succinctly you capture what Google+ has to offer. I’m eager to see how it evolves and what new content focused opportunities it offers.Thank you.Best,CB

  • Pingback: A "How to" Guide for Google+ | OpenView Blog

  • Shalool

    Google Plus Rocks. Thanx for the post

  • http://www.buycirclesfollowers.com/ Buy Circles Followers

    Google Plus one was the experimental phase for a while time but is now available and valid. More than one in Google is in many ways Google is answer to Facebook use is their way of keeping up with the social direction of the search engines use. How does the level of the search engine Google Plus 1 button appears on the right side of the results of each web page of Google search when you are connected to a Google Account. You can click the button to add one all the web pages of search results.