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5 approaches to improve your use of Google+

How to avoid Google+ being another push channel

Last week, I attended BrightonSEO where one speaker asked an interesting question showing how agencies manage social media channels for their clients:

"How many people here manage Twitter profiles for clients?"
> Around half still raised their hands

"How many people here manage Facebook pages for clients?"
> Slightly more than half of the room raised their hand

"How many people here manage Google+ accounts for clients?"
> Three quarters of the room raised their hand

I know it was an SEO conference and there are obviously search benefits for Google+ pages, but can this be correct?

Hmm...

We now know that Google+ is catching up with Facebook in terms of active users, and that keeping on the right side of the search giant is a must, but are brands really taking that much notice of the social network?

Well it seems so. 75% of the top 100 brands have Google+ pages, but there really is a clear divide in how it's actually being utilised.

On one side of the fence, plenty of UK brands have adopted Google+ and are using it to build engagement with their communities.

Three great examples include:

  • Ocado - daily posts and use of Hangouts to engage their followers
  • ASOS - daily posts with mostly unique content to Google+
  • Ford - posts every few days, including news from motor shows or details of its charity work.

But as with every digital trend, there are of course examples of brands who don't care about Google+ or have joined without putting a strategy in place of what it means for their business.

As a result, the following happens:

  • Posts are sporadic and offer little value to members
  • Content isn't well thought through or is ill-informed as to what elicits engagement
  • Updates are uninteresting or not applicable to the behaviour of G Plus-ers
  • Little thought has gone into the aesthetics of the profile
  • Importance is underestimated and therefore Google+ becomes an additional responsibility for an already (probably) under-resourced team
  • But perhaps most importantly, no objectives have been set as to what the page is set out to do or how to measure it

So yes, there seems to be an upward trend of adoption, but not always for the right reasons, and certainly not in thinking about Google+ as its own entity - rather in lumping it in with other social media marketing platforms.

Here are 5 approaches to think about to manage your Google+ more effectively:

  • 1. Don't just shout about your brand - try to understand what your G+ community wants and try to answer them. For example, rather than broadcasting offers about your hotel; talk about destinations, activities, traveller research, events, customer albums or videos etc, and then weave in 'oh and by the way, we have a special offer on at the moment'. As with any content marketing, if you're answering a question it'll be more valuable.
  • 2. Create or integrate a social media calendar - use a systematic approach to plan content in order to train your circle members into the reasons they should follow your brand. Planning frequent and consistent content that adds value will avoid ad hoc postings and also educate followers of the type of content they can expect.
  • 3. Assign a mortal - in some organisations, one person might be responsible for all social media. In others, platforms may be split across a team. Either way, make sure there is always someone responsible for planning, updating and answering comments to ensure it's not the poor relation in the social media family.
  • 4. Make it pretty - decorate your profile to reflect your values. Remember: Google+ is an extension of your brand and is likely to be picked up above a lot of other pages, so use it! Use the assets to talk about your brand, integrate campaigns, back up PR, offer competitions, link to email sign up, create links, offer maps etc. You wouldn't ignore the design of your website homepage, so don't ignore your G+ page.
  • 5. Consider your audience - re-purposing content from other social networks is absolutely fine and can be the basis of your social media calendar, but only if it appeals to the audience hanging out on G+. For example, if as a clothing brand you plan content around a major fashion event, focus on women if your Facebook fan base is mostly female, but on men if your G+ base is male. If it's close to 50:50, ensure your content also reflects that.

There are benefits of being on Google+, but only if it's done properly. So whether you see it as a priority for your social media marketing mix or not, it needs to reflect your strategy.

Next time someone asks the question, will Google+ be a priority for your brand? Here are some more ideas of how you can develop your presence in comparison to Facebook.

Source: Pardot

By the way, BrightonSEO is a great event, if you missed it, here is a compilation of the talks.

By Rhian Harris (was Simms)

Rhian Harris is an online marketing all-rounder and guest blogger for Smart Insights. With over a decade of experience of all digital media and ecommerce from utilities, travel, charity and retail sectors, Rhian is now a digital marketing consultant working with businesses to deliver and optimise their performance on any aspect of their strategy. IDM qualified, Rhian also contributes to the Econsultancy blog and other expert websites as well as her own business, Consult&C Digital. You can connect with Rhian on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

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