To some of us, Google+ still seems like the social media underdog, but the fact is it’s ever on the rise — and backed by the world’s most popular and influential search engine. In truth, Google+ offers tremendous potential for content marketing.
What best practices and practical steps can help you use Google+ to your business advantage? Here’s a look at tips for using Google+ for content marketing.
Step 1: Build presence
Like most social media channels, Google+ works most effectively when you are active on it. That’s why part of using Google+ to your advantage means creating a strong presence on the network and building community with other users.
Where to start
Google+ is less about being an overnight sensation and more about consistently communicating well. So where do you start? What are the preliminary steps and content marketing best practices for setting up your online presence?
- Get a Gmail account: If you don’t already have a Google email account, get one now. It will make activity and sharing easier and more fluid.
- Complete your profile: Fill out your/your company profile’s “about” page, from tagline to website links. The idea here is to use your profile as a teaser or invitation, something that pulls viewers to your content online.
- Post regularly: Whether or not you post on a daily basis, your brand needs to be posting frequently to have an impact. Find content to post that is relevant to your audience, respond to their comments, and link to your own new content.
A brand that’s doing it well: H&M
Fashion retailer H&M, which today has over 1.5 million followers on Google+, uses the network to “focus on inspiration,” according to the company’s Global Social Media Manager Miriam Tappert. To help build its presence, the brand posts news content every day, pushing for it to be relevant to its users. This has given the company wide popularity among fans.
Some examples of content H&M is regularly sharing:
- Teasers of upcoming products or lines
- Photos, or groups of photos, around a certain theme, linking to its website (i.e., the “rugged city look,” mixing prints and colors, top picks from new arrivals)
- Videos from its YouTube channel (event coverage, behind-the-scenes looks, interviews, etc.)
- Promotions about Facebook events or giveaways
It’s also interesting to note that the brand never posts without a link and/or photos, making every bit of its content eye-catching and attention-grabbing to its fans.
Step 2: Develop a community
Google+ offers an opportunity to connect with a tech-savvy demographic of potential clients. By adding users to your Circles, providing meaningful content, and engaging in the content others post, you form connections that can benefit your brand.
How to start developing your community:
- Create your Circles: Circles are to Google+ what friends are to Facebook and following is to Twitter. Add users to your Circles (which can be modified according to your preferences) to create a community of sharing. The larger your Circles, the wider your scope of influence.
- Make use of Hangouts: If you’ve never used Hangouts, you’re missing out on one of Google+’s biggest opportunities for content marketers. Use Hangouts to record webinars or how-to guides, host Q&A sessions, host workshops, make announcements, and more.
- Engage: As a community, Google+ is about more than posting your own content — check out what users in your Circles are posting, and +1 (the Google+ equivalent of a Facebook “like”), or comment on those updates regularly.
A brand that’s doing it well: Cadbury
Using Hangouts and Circles, Cadbury turned itself into the European brand with the largest number of followers on Google+. The popularity has had a major impact on its overall marketing, according to the Google Inside AdWords blog, dramatically improving search campaigns. The confectionary company currently has more than 2.5 million followers.
Examples of what Cadbury’s done with Hangouts:
- For the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games: It created Hangouts featuring champions like freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
- When it reached 500K fans: The company hired an artist to create a “chocolate version” of the Google+ page to use as a Hangout. Content included chocolate recipes, pictures of chocolate sculptures, and promotional videos.
Examples of what Cadbury’s done with Circles:
- Fan groupings: Fans are grouped by candy preference, with circles labeled “Crème Egg,” “Wispa,” and so on. Cadbury invites fans to add themselves to Circles by leaving comments on the brand’s page about which candy they like best. This encouraged involvement and personalized the page.
- Tasters’ Circle: Cadbury let select users participate in chocolate tastings with the company’s research and development team. Doing this not only allowed the brand to reward customer loyalty but also to gain information through an informal focus group that gave direct feedback.
Step 3: Promote your content
According to CopyBlogger, Google+ is more than a network backed by Google — it is Google. All of the internet superpower’s various products integrate seamlessly with Google+, almost like they are accessories to Google+ rather than the other way around. This is especially true for search.
How content marketing promotion works on Google+
Marketing your content on Google+ does more than reach out to users — it also “markets” to search engines. Anytime you post content to Google+, Google immediately indexes it, giving you faster exposure. What’s more, your content is more likely to appear in your contacts’ online searches, thanks to personalized search.
Here’s how to take advantage of this:
- Post links to your original content: This will get it indexed and ranked by Google, so it can be brought up in regular and personalized search queries. Take my company, Straight North, for example. Because we posted a new article on nurturing creativity to our Google+ page, when our followers search for something similar, the Straight North content will be highlighted in results, as is shown below:
- Identify authors: See how author Brad Shorr’s photo came up next to his article in the screenshot above? That’s thanks to Google’s rel=author links. Have your writers implement something similar in order to identify themselves with their content online in search results. There are two ways to do this:
- Use a clear byline and verify that author’s email address with Google.
- Use this HTML in the author bio of the article: <a href=”[profile url]?rel=author”>Google</a>, replacing [profile url] with the link to the author’s Google+ profile page
- Promote your Google+ conversations throughout your content marketing outposts: On your website and in blog posts, add +1 buttons so users can effectively like your content even while not directly on their Google+ accounts. This makes it easy to grow your presence, as it allows your community to come to you.
Below, you will see an example located at the top of a post, which allows readers to simply click the “g+1” button to give it a like.
Is Your Firm Using Google+?
With Google+ continuing to grow and expand in influence, content marketers can’t afford to ignore it. How could you begin implementing the above ideas to use Google+ in your marketing efforts?
Is your company already using Google+? What results have you seen? We would love for you to share your Google+ experiences in the comments below.
For more tips on using social media and content marketing to build a bold brand, read Josh Myles’ book, “Bold Brand.”