By Jessica Edmondson
Instead of spreading yourself thin by having a presence in all popular social media channels out there, you should save your time and effort by marketing your small business with a select few channels. And one of those channels should be Google+.
G+ has reached 343 million users, surpassing that of both LinkedIn and Twitter. And if you’re looking to market your small and even mirco-sized business online, Google+ can help in several key ways. In Part One, I discussed how Google+ Communities are a great way to hone your marketing efforts in finding a content niche, and how Google+’s inherent visual appeal makes your content easily digestible for your customers. In this part, I’ll cover how Google+ helps your message easily connect with your customers through mastering Circles, sharing resources, and hosting Hangouts.
Let’s get started.
1. Use Circles to Network and Distribute Relevant Content
One of the nicest features of Google+ is Circles, which allows you to separate your followers into different categories. This is tremendously valuable from a content perspective, as it means you can get all of your posts only to followers who will find them relevant. This decreases the chances that your content will be perceived as spam and increases the chances of engagement. It also allows you to embrace multiple sub-niches, so you can have a diverse content strategy.
There are also many Shared Circles that may be worth joining, as they tend to attract experts in certain topics or industries. This means you’ll have easy access to those experts’ top notch content, which will make for great sharing on your own page. Expert Circles are also a good place to network, as they allow you to organically engage in real conversations with influencers and make an impression. This will make it a lot easier to ask these experts later on to do a guest feature for more great content for your page.
The same goes for shared Circles that are meant more for people who aren’t intimately familiar with your product but who may have an interest in your product. Join these groups, and you’ll again have the opportunity to network with people who could potentially become your customers.
2. Share Resources
Just like on any other social networking site, one of the best things you can do on Google+ is to share resources. This could mean anything from that short, fun article you read the other day to an entire in-depth guide you produced yourself.
The company Simply Business, for example, often produces how-to guides like this guide to Google+ to help its target demographic of small business owners.
In fact, the company has a whole library of resources on its site for all to browse. Guides like these as well as posts to current news articles and customer success stories keep any Google+ feed fresh and vibrant. They also go a long way towards establishing industry expertise. The company takes its shared resources a step further by responding to each and every customer comment and mentioning followers directly in their responses with the +username tag. This makes followers far more likely to continue engaging both on the platform and beyond.
3. Hangout with Your Customers
Believe it or not, one of the most effective forms of marketing is simply hanging out with your customers. That’s something G+ makes even easier with a feature called — you guessed it — Google+ Hangouts. At first glance, Hangouts are nothing more than video conferencing software (albeit, video software that’s of way higher quality than Skype). What’s different here is that Hangouts integrate a whole host of Google software to make video conferencing much more dynamic. There are special effects that are downright fun to play with. There’s also full integration with Google Drive, so you could potentially present right within the video software or work on a Google Doc together.
Organizations across the globe are finding all sorts of creative ways to use Hangouts.
NASA, for instance, often hosts Hangouts with astronauts that automatically get archived to YouTube, where anyone can access them who couldn’t hangout. Cadbury has used the feature to host a taste test with several of its avid followers. Other companies have hosted competitions and games, question and answer sessions, and simply, well, hangouts. This feature is an excellent way to get to know your customer base in a fun and easy way, and it can do double time as content distributed on YouTube. That’s a win-win.
When it comes to social media marketing for your small business, it’s best to focus your efforts and create a vibrant, diverse, and frequently updated social media channel. Given the host of creative tools it provides and its growing popularity, Google+ is the best platform for doing just that.
Jessica is a writer and content marketer at Distilled, a creative online marketing company. She particularly fancies small business topics that involve social media and branding. You can circle her on Google+ here or follow her on Twitter here.