Do you want to get a head start on the untapped market of Google Plus for your business?
Google Plus has an audience of more than 500 million users, and uses what you share on it to impact your companies search results. It’s not rocket science to see that you should be a part of what’s going on sooner rather than later.
Here are 10 Steps to get the jump ahead of your competition and get a following on Google Plus:
1. Define Your Niche Target Market – One of the best ways to use Google Plus is to develop targeted communities about topics in your industry and then become an industry leader on those topics. What do you want to be known for? Which topics relate to your business in a grand sense and then keyword specific?
For example – a mommy blogger who posts fitness, food and parenting tips on her blog could come up with some specific keywords like – cupcakes, foodies, running, fitness, yoga, bullying, parenting, wine, education. These niche keyword topics will become your circles.
2. Search and Circle – Go to the search bar at the top of Google Plus and type in one of the keywords you selected above. Start scrolling through the results. People will already be posting about those topics. Scan the posts and selectively add those people you find interesting and relevant, to an appropriately named circle. Many will be brand pages (shown with a Square symbol beside the name). You can add brand pages, but you should focus your efforts on people. People are what makes this community. You should also add any communities that you come across and have a look at people posting in them. This recently launched community feature is another great way to target and add people to your circles.
3. Do This For All Circles – Repeat this idea for several keywords in your niche, creating several targeted interest based circles. Circle 500 people. More is better. Take some time with this. Remember this will be an ongoing work in progress. Don’t do it all in one sitting. Your Twitter following, Facebook fan page and Linkedin connections were not built in one day and your Google Plus will not be either.
4. The 80 – 20 Rule – Now that you have some circles… How do you develop those communities? Many people miss this key step. You need to be interacting (80% of the time) much more than broadcasting (posting content 20% of the time). Especially when just starting out. To get the best interaction on your own posts you’ll need to appear on other people’s Google Plus radar. One of the fastest ways to do that, is to interact with them on their own posts first. Remember no one wants to be sold to 24 hours a day.
5. Interaction is Key – Make meaningful, value added comments on any posts you find interesting. Reshare posts that are in your niche topics. Make sure you add a few lines of your own opinions to the post when you reshare it. Bring people whom you have interacted with into the conversation by using a simple “+Amanda Blain have you tried this wine?” Also remember to +1 people who comment on your posts, as a ‘thank you’. All these simple, easy steps work great for developing your community.
6. Eight Out of Ten Posts - Not About You – For every ten posts you make on Google Plus, roughly eight should be posts that are interest based content that does not promote you directly. This means you should not post your blog, website, or whatever you are selling. Talking about you all the time does not work in a real life conversation, and it doesn’t work on Google Plus. Develop a community. Don’t spam your audience – instead post a picture of tasty looking cupcakes, share a bullying news article including your thoughts about it, or ask that question about Hot Yoga that you always were curious about but never asked.
7. Two Out Of Ten Posts – All About You – Blog posts, YouTube, your website products – Here is where you get the chance to self promote. Try again to not make it a sales pitch, but include a story relevant to the audience you have built in your topics. If you’ve been cultivating a cupcake circle, this would be your chance to post your OWN recent cupcake creation. Why do all this for 2 posts? The Google+ secret is – People will go to your website anyway. If you have your website linked in your “About” section people will visit it WITHOUT you telling them too.
8. Profile Profile Profile – When you do something interesting – a great comment, intriguing post or simply by circling someone – people tend to have a look at your “About” page. This page is your virtual face to the world and you never get a second chance to make that first impression. Make sure your “About” section is filled out completely. THIS PAGE is your sales page. Have a lovely photo of yourself. Make sure you link to all your webpages, sites you contribute to and also link to the important websites in the text portion of your “About” section. Make it sparkle and shine and make sure it has all the keywords that you are trying to become a thought leader on.
9. Post Now, Post Often – Keep it fun, fresh and interesting. Stay in people’s minds by posting daily. If you can, several short posts a day works wonders. Use pictures, hashtags and a wide range of content (links, videos, pictures, and text) to get the best results. Make time to add it to your daily social media strategy. Posting once every 2 weeks is a sure way to be forgotten.
10. Lather, Rinse, Repeat – Some of the people you add from this will circle you back. Even more will add you as you continue to interact. These circles allow you to create micro-communities that you can hangout, share to, even notify about specific posts making it worth your time to create them. You should repeat these 10 steps often. Find new people to circle and clean out old ones. Interact. Post targeted, relevant content. Repeat.
What about Brand Pages? All of the previous steps are for someone who is using their personal Google Plus page to mix their business and personal social media usage. You can also use this same technique to push communities to a brand page as your “2 self promotion posts”. Try and think outside the box of different ways to talk about your product, without selling. If you are Starbucks show some latte coffee art, daily facts about coffee, pictures of the coffee growing process, NOT Todays specials, latest coffee blend, and the holiday gift basket bundles.
Final Thoughts – Google Plus is a large, rapidly growing community of passionate, interest based people who click links, fund kickstarters and share content – they will stick with you as long as you provide value. You just need to take some time to find your audience.
How do you use Google Plus? Do you find yourself self promoting more than recommended in this article? Comment here with your thoughts or questions about using Google Plus for business.
Amanda Blain is CEO of Girlfriend Social (a friendship social network for women), Geek Girl, Zombie Fan, Speaker, and Consultant to companies looking for assistance with their social media presence. http://www.amandablain.com
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