If you’ve thought about using Google+ you may have been put off by its relatively limited use and popularity compared to Facebook or LinkedIn. But, new data from customer profile-management provider Janrain shows that in the first quarter of this year, Google+ actually overtook Facebook and LinkedIn in terms of average use. The lead is narrow but it is worth noting that users seem to be shifting away from the tried and true platforms as they evolve into less user friendly services.
So, how can you use Google+ for your business? The first and perhaps most important way is as a central home base for all of your business information on Google. As a business on Google+ you can corral and update your Google maps and places data and highlight customer reviews. This will have a slightly positive effect on your SEO, while giving users a clear cut resource to find your information when they search, which can make it easier for them to find your website and other marketing information.
Second, Google+ still lets businesses promote free content and have it be seen. You may have noticed that the page views of your Facebook posts dropped significantly this year – that’s by design. Too many businesses and social media “experts” using Facebook as a paid content platform finally made the business case for Facebook itself to follow suit. As such, unless you’re willing to pay to get eyeballs on your Facebook posts, it’s unlikely many people will see them. On Google+ the playing field is more level but you will have to invest some time in getting customers to recognize that you’re on Google+.
Google+ pages for business work similarly to a Facebook page, in terms of set up by selecting your business category and then uploading your logo or other branding. The bonus comes in with Google’s other services including YouTube, Hangouts, and Chat. From your page you can start hosting videos and hangouts with your customers to make things more interactive.
Using Google Docs and Forms you can also start planning and hosting events with sign up forms or let clients book services through your Google+ page.
Beyond including additional Google services to build out your presence, the Google+ page also includes an about page which allows you to tell the story of your business, post a resume and post links to external sites including your homepage or other pages that feature your work. If you’re a sole proprietor you can virtually create a portfolio through your business page and refer potential business there to get a better sense of who you are and how you interact with clients.
Ultimately the idea of interacting through another social network may seem daunting. But, it may be worth an audit of your social media in light of new data to ensure you’re on the same platforms your clients are. Surprisingly, more of them may be on Google+ than you think.