300 million Google+ users as of October 2013
6.97% growth in Web traffic referrals from Google+ from September 2012 to September 2013
30% of smartphone owners used the Google+ mobile app from April-June 2013, making it the fourth most-used app
In last week’s post, we looked a five ways to enhance your marketing strategy in 2014. Number two on that list was increasing your activity of Google Plus (Google+). In today’s post, we want to dig our heels into that topic a little more—explaining why you should be spending more time on Google+ this year (or activating your profile if you haven’t already), and how you can get more out of Google’s growing social network.
Why Should Your Organization Be Active on Google+?
You probably know Google+ has been around for a couple years (it launched in summer 2011), and may have never found a particularly compelling reason to use the network for your brand. Things have a changed. Here are five good reasons to spend more time on Google+ this year:
It has improved significantly
Over the last year, Google has done a lot of work on Google+—incorporating many of the best features of the other social networks (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). What was once a clunky, confusing site has become much easier to use. Which leads to our next reason…
It’s growing quickly
As we mentioned above, Google reported 300 million Google+ users in October 2013. That number may not seem all that big in comparison to some of the other social networks. But that’s up from 190 million in May 2013. That’s 58% growth in six months!
Facebook’s organic reach is fading
You may have noticed the organic reach of your Facebook brand posts plummeting in recent months. This isn’t just you—Facebook has acknowledged it’s happening across the board. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon Facebook, but it does give you a good reason to spend more time on Google+ where organic reach is on the rise instead of the decline.
It’s great for connecting with people
The problem with Facebook for brands has always been that it was designed to connect people with the familiar. Connections are based on established relationships. Google+ is much better for connecting with people/organizations you don’t know based on shared areas of interest. And that’s a lot of what your brand is looking to accomplish with your online marketing, isn’t it?
It’s also great for SEO
This isn’t exactly surprising, but the social network from the Web’s biggest search engine provides much better SEO benefits for organizations. The reason for this? Every time you post to your profile on Google+, that post gets its own individual Web page. That means your Google+ posts are more likely to turn up in Google searches.
How to Grow Your Brand on Google+
Now that you know why being active on Google+ is advantageous for your organization, let’s look at some things you can do to get rolling on the network. These actions will make your brand more prominent on Google+ and help you gain followers.
1. Optimize your profile
As with all the social networks, the first step is setting up a profile. This is important on Google+ because it’s how a lot of people will find you—and your profile will turn up in search engine results too. This is a great place to include search keywords pertaining to your brand.
Make sure to add your tagline and a short introduction about your organization. Google+ also has areas where you can provide a link to your website, and custom links to other relevant pages like your blog. You can also add your contact information (which we highly recommend) and photos, videos and reviews to your profile.
Additionally, the massive Google+ cover photo size gives you a lot of real estate to work with. This is a great space to prominently display the visuals of your brand. The ideal image size for your Google+ cover photo is 2120 (width) x 1192 (height).
2. Search by interest
With your profile established, it’s time to get to work. Not surprising for the search giant, but Google+ has great search functionality. You can type your brand’s main topic or area of interest into the search bar (for example: “nonprofit” or “marketing”) and click the magnifying glass.
What you get is a series of tabs with different results. These include “People and Pages”, “Communities” and “Posts” on Google+ related to that term. Use these searches as a way to find people talking about your area of interest and start following them, like or comment on posts, and join communities.
3. Join communities
Communities are one of the very best features on Google+ for brands. Like LinkedIn Groups, they are collections of people with shared interests in a given topic. That means you don’t have to hunt people down who shares the same interests as you, they’re already gathered together.
Most likely, you’ll find several communities related to your topic established on Google+. This is a great place to get started. Post to these communities, comment on other posts and follow people in the community. And if you can’t find a community focused on your area…
4. Create a community
Anyone can create a community. So if your topic is not already established as community, you can get it started. To start a community, you just need a title, an image or icon to represent the community, and a short description of what the community is all about.
Of course, once you establish a community you still need to get people to join. You can invite people, including all your followers, and people will find it through search—but you also have to actively work to get people posting and commenting in the community.
5. Post, comment and follow
It’s important to remain active to continue to build your follower base on Google+. That means regular posting, responding to comments and +1-ing, and commenting on other people’s posts. A good practice to build followers is to follow everyone who comments on one of your posts. You already know these people are interested in your topic, which is what you’re looking for.
You should also follow those who post information of interest to you, and make it a point to follow back the relevant individuals and organizations that have started following you. Over time, you’ll see your follower base grow and your Google+ circles expand. That means more people you can now reach directly.
Beat the Rush: Establish Your Brand on Google+ Now
Now is a great time to jump on Google+ and run with it because the network is at the ideal growth point. As we mentioned, Google+ is growing quickly—but it’s not too big just yet. That means you have a golden opportunity to carve out a spot for your brand and connect and engage with users. As more and more brands get active on Google+, you will face greater competition to gain followers and get eyeballs on your posts. Get ahead of the pack now while you still can.*Top statistics courtesy of Digital Marketing Ramblings and Wikipedia
Connect with eleventy on Google+ today. We’d love to follow you back!