When Google+ first showed up on the social media scene, it wasn’t just regarded as the newcomer, it was often looked down upon as a poser, a Facebook wannabe. It’s not too difficult to see why there was such a negative perception of Google+ at the time – the (what seemed like) overnight success of Facebook made it look like Google was just trying to cash in.
However, as the years passed, it became very obvious that Google+ had a lot to offer – especially to businesses that were looking for new and more effective ways to market their brand.
Nowadays, I have no problem mentioning Google+ as one of the social platforms that every business should seriously consider using for their online marketing strategies, not only because of Google’s obvious ties to Google+, but also for the unique marketing features and opportunities that it presents. The following is a brief breakdown of Google+:
Google+ User Base
Sure, Google+ doesn’t have as big of a user base as Facebook does – but what social channel does? Compared to many of the other social media networks, the user base of Google+ is actually quite large with over 540 million active monthly users and counting, which means it’s behind only Facebook and YouTube. It’s worth noting that a lot of marketers take advantage of Google+ as well.
One of the things to consider when marketing on Google+ is that a majority of the user base is male. According to data collected two years ago, the average age of Google+ users was 28, although there has been a large growth in users between the ages of 45 to 54. It’s also worth noting that many of Google+ users are professionals.
Types of Content Found on Google+
A large portion of the users on Google+ are professionals, which explains why brand posts tend to get the most interaction. In fact, in 2014, brand-related content posted to Google+ generated almost as much interaction as Facebook posts. Current data shows that although 54 percent of Google+ users interact with Google+ as a way to keep in touch with friends, 41 percent use Google+ as a way to interact with brand content. This makes Google+ an incredibly attractive option for content marketers.
Google+ is packed with features that can help you to market your business in numerous ways, whether it’s to engage with customers, increase your brand’s exposure, find high quality leads within your target audience, find influencers or to attract readers to the content you post. The following are just a few of the unique features that you have access to when using Google+ to market your business:
Google+ Circles – Google+ Circles allows you to segment your entire contact list into different categories, or “Circles.” So if you want, you can have a “family” circle, a “coworkers” circle and a “friends” circle. It’s even more helpful in a business sense since it allows you to segment your followers into different demographics.
For example, if you sell clothing, then you might want different circles for males and females. You may also want different circles for customers, business partners and industry influencers. By segmenting your contact list using circles, you can control who sees your posts. So if you post a promotion on dresses, you can restrict it to a specific circle so that only female customers see it.
Google+ Communities – If you’re familiar at all with Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups, then you’ll recognize the Google+ Communities feature as it’s pretty much the same. Communities are just like Groups – they consist of a group of members joined together by one subject.
Google+ Collections – Collections is a relatively new feature that allows you to group together content. For example, say you sell pet food. You can use Collections to create separate collections of all of your cat-oriented content and your dog-oriented content.
This way, when someone reads a new piece of dog-oriented content that you’ve posted, they’ll be able to see older dog-oriented content grouped in the same collection. Basically, it’s an organizational tool that makes it easier for users to find relevant content as well as a way for you to introduce older content to new followers.
Google+ Hangouts – Hangouts are live video chats that can be used for any number of things, from interviews and meetings to webinars and Q and A sessions. They are a fantastic way to engage with your user base and generate more interest in your brand.
They are an excellent way for potential customers and business partners to get an idea of who your company is by allowing them to actually interact with individuals within your company. Not only are Hangouts free to use, you can record them for future use and can even upload them to YouTube.
Google+ Local – Google+ Local allows you to set up a page that includes your physical location, business type and much more. The advantage of setting up a Google+ Local page is that it can help boost local search rankings, making your business easier to find on both Google+ and Google by consumers within your area.
Customers can also leave reviews on your Google+ Local page, which not only provide social proof to users that visit your page, but also show up to users that have those reviewers within their circles – which means that they will see any reviews written by people that they know.
Google Adwords is a PPC (pay per click) advertising feature that allows you to set up ads on Google’s search engine. The way it works is that you choose a keyword and bid on that keyword. When a user enters a query using that keyword, your ad may pop up on their search results page. Many marketers use this since they only pay for results, meaning that you only have to pay if the user clicks on the ad. You can use Google Adwords on your Google+ page as well.
All you need to do is go to the Campaign section of the Google Adwords site and click on Ad Extensions, which will allow you to view Social Extensions where you’ll be able to enter your Google+ business page URL.
To get the absolute most out of your Google+ page, you need to know how it is performing. The best way to do this is through the use of various analytics tools built just for Google+. The following are a few of their most useful analytics tools:
Insights – Located in the Google+ Dashboard, Insights provides an overview of your Google+ page over the last 30 days and includes information such as the number of views that your posts have received, the number of post actions – such as share activity or comments – and the number of new followers.
Google Analytics – Also found on the Google+ Dashboard, Google Analytics will provide you with the number of website page views you’ve received within the last 30 days, the number of unique visitors your page has received and the number of new website visits.
Steady Demand – Steady Demand will do an audit of your Google+ page and provide you with valuable information that includes peak times for obtaining the best mentions and engagement. It can also alert you to any issues with any of the posts you make on Google+ and can even let you know if any of your updates are performing poorly – as well as provide suggestions on how to improve the quality of your posts.
SumAll – This tool compares the performance of your Google+ page to any other social media page you might have. This is quite useful because it gives you the chance to assess what is attracting your target audience to each social platform that you have a presence on and what isn’t.
Best And Worst Time To Post On Google+
Best time: Users tend to go on Google+ more frequently in the mornings from 9:00AM to 10:00AM, with the absolute peak engagement time coming at 9:00AM on Wednesdays.
Worst time: Avoid posting to Google+ in the mornings before 9:00AM and in the evenings, when usage time is way down. I would also recommend avoid scheduling your Google+ posts on the weekends.
For the full list of best and worst time to post on social media, click here.
Not only does Google+’s large user base make it an attractive platform for online marketers, but Google’s focus on offering numerous features that help benefit content marketing, from Circles to Collections, make Google+ a social channel that you should really take advantage of.
Zhi Yuan is an inbound marketer who has expertise in both SEO and content marketing. He is on a never-ending quest to understand the mysteries of the search engine world, and sometimes, on his way to the ice-cream parlor.