Earlier today Google announced Google+ pages, which means businesses can finally join the G+ community! These pages, which are similar in essence to Facebook pages are designed for businesses, brands, organizations, and any other group that wants to join.
Immediately after the announcement was made, the blogosphere went crazy. People have been asking about brands and businesses on G+ since even before the network officially launched. Personally, I couldn’t be happier. You might say that I am a bit of a G+ fan. I spoke about using G+ to improve the performance of your paid search campaigns at SMX East, and hell, I even dressed like a G+ circle for Halloween. Needless to say I have been waiting with bated breath for brand pages, and was excited to hear they had finally arrived.
As thousands of users rush to create Google+ pages for their brands, I thought it would be helpful to come up with a list of tips and suggestions. G+ pages are still new, and pretty much uncharted territory, however, with that in mind there are a few ways you can help maximize the impact of your efforts.
1. Don’t wait
Not all businesses can open a Google+ page today, but within the next few days pages should be open to all users. Like I said at SMX, you should be part of the future, not the past or present. By creating a G+ page for your brand now you can show the world that you are up to date on the latest marketing trends. Even if you’re not sure weather or not your target audience is active in Google+, I recommend creating a page. It does not have to be perfect, as you can always tweak and modify the page tomorrow or the next day.
To get started, go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create.
2. Call to action on your page
Like with any landing page or website, you should prompt users to complete a desired action when they land on your Google+ page. What should this call to action be? Most likely you are going to want users to add you to one of their circles. However, it could also be to join a hang out, +1 your page, share the page, or any number of things.
The official page for The Muppets movie did a great job of promoting two specific calls to action. Check out the image below. As you can see, the post directs users to “circle us now” and join the hangout, otherwise upset Miss Piggy, who has “been primping for hours.” If your updates, and text do not promote an action, users may visit your page and click away never to return or interact with your brand again.
3. Don’t create too many pages
Brands can actually create multiple pages on Google+. This can be handy for a company like Pepsi who might want to create different pages for products such as Diet Pepsi, or Mountain Dew, but it could become problematic for over zealous marketers. My suggestions is that unless you have a very strong reason to create more than one page (like Pepsi), then you should focus on building and maintaining one page for your brand.
Once your page is live, don’t just pat yourself on the back and think your job is done. When people add you to one of their circles, consider adding them back. Post interesting content, host a hangout. Participate in the Google+ community! Sure there are some things you cannot do, for example, pages cannot play games. But otherwise, treat your brand page like you would a personal profile. Connect with users and promote your brand through conversations.
5. Place pages vs. + pages
When you set up your Google+ page, you have the option to setup a local business page, or a brand page. The advantage of a local business page is that you can include a map of your business’s location and list your address, phone number, and hours of operation. Keep in mind though, that this page on Google+ will not replace your Google place page (which shows up in Google Maps results). For the time being you will need to manage both profiles to ensure that your business can be found in both G+ and Google Maps. To learn more about local businesses in Google+, check out “Get started with a local Google+ page” in the Google help center.
6. Link to your website with Google+, and vice versa
Hopefully by now you already have +1 buttons on your website. If not, then you should put that task at the top of your web developers “to do” list.
Once you create a page for your brand though, you will also want to link up your website with Google+ and vice versa. According to Google, “linking your Google+ page and your site like this not only helps you build relationships with friends and followers, but also gives Google information we can use to determine the relevancy of your site to a user query in Google Web Search.”
Additionally, when your site and page is cross linked, you will be eligible for Google Direct Connect, which is a brand new search feature that lets users automatically go to a brand’s G+ page by starting their search query with a + symbol.
7. Link your Google+ page with your AdWords campaign
The main point of my presentation on G+ at SMX East was that an active presence in the community can increase the ROI of your paid search campaigns. Now that brands and businesses can set up pages, Google has announced a new type of ad extension in AdWords: Social extensions. Although there is not very much information about social extensions, and I couldn’t find the option in any of the AdWords accounts I manage, Google has written the following about them:
If you’re an AdWords customer, you can link your AdWords campaign to your business’ page. Connecting your page to your campaigns allows your advertising and page to share +1’s. Any +1’s on your ads will increment the count on your page and vice versa. To enable this connection, simply enable Social Extensions in the Ad Extensions section and enter the URL for your Google+ page in the ‘Google+ Page’ field.
8. Use a G+ related URL shortener
Unfortunately Google+ does not offer short vanity URLs like Facebook and Twitter. So instead of having easy to remember G+ addresses like plus.google.com/TheMuppets, your URL is long, and full of numbers like plus.google.com/118177189004466545044/. Luckily there are plenty of third party G+ URL shorteners. My favorite is http://gplus.to/ but there are a handful of others, and you can use them to come up with a shorter URL that can be used in other marketing materials.
9. Promote your Google+ account from other networks
Although technically Britney Spears is a person, her social accounts often promote her brand. As such, I am going to use her as an example for this tip. Look at the following update that was made from Britney’s Facebook account earlier today.
In order to get attention for your G+ page you should promote it from all of your other social networks including (but not limited to): Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, your company’s blog, your monthly newsletter, or anywhere else you can think of!
10. Do not treat Google+ like the audience is the same as Facebook
Your strategy for Google+ should be tailored to the audience. Currently, the users on Google+ are very technology and marketing savvy, and statistically there are more men active on G+ than there are women. On the other hand, Facebook has a more gender neutral audience and is popular among mainstream Internet users. The point is that you should create content specifically for Google+. Don’t just repost the same status update on all of your accounts.
To illustrate my point, I will again turn to the official page for The Muppets movie. Look at this very Google+ related post the account recently made.
As someone who not only is a fan of Google+, but also changes outfits at least four times for a big event, I could definitely relate with the above status update.
BONUS TIP: Stand out
Do something different, think about innovation. The Internet marketing community is looking for brands to emerge as leaders in Google+. The network is still very new, and marketers are unsure on how to convey the importance of activity on Google+ to the “big bosses.” By doing something different, you can be recognized as a leader in the Google+ field, and find articles about your strategy on dozens of search engine marketing blogs.
Oh, and here is my Google+ circles costume, for those of you who didn’t click the link in my summary.