Tried out Google’s holiday gift? On November 7, the search engine giant rolled out its Google+ Brand Pages. This new kid on the social media block first introduced itself to individuals in June of 2011, picking up 10 million users in just 16 days. Now, with approximately 50 million users, Google+ opens its virtual doors to the commercial world with a beefed-up arsenal of business-friendly tools. Is your organization ready to set up shop in the Google+ neighbourhood?
Hanging up your shingle
Every business needs a storefront. Use your Google+ profile to create a stellar page. Templates make it easy. Fill in your brand name, profile picture and tagline, and you’re in business! Add in an introduction to your organization, contact details and directions to your location. Don’t forget to customize your page with the five-image photostrip that appears at the top of your Page. Then, network, network, network to encourage friends and customers to “Circle” your page.
Meet me in the boardroom
Not in the office? Not a problem. Let Google Meeting host your next consult: it can record and archive phone, text and video conferences of up to 10 people. Stage an online brainstorming session with Google Whiteboard, an interactive virtual drawing board, or distribute company reports via Google Docs. Google+ bridges the miles, easing long-distance collaboration for business travelers, freelancers and home offices.
Two thumbs up for +1s
Google’s handy wizard makes adding +1 buttons a cinch. One quick copy-paste and your clients can recommend your website and products to the world. Similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, +1s serve as barometers of your online following. Build your professional network by +1-ing the Pages and websites of colleagues and partners.
Hail to the king of search engines
Google+ Pages appear in Google search results, putting your customers just one click away. Likewise, the new Direct Connect feature permits exclusive Google+ searches: typing +companyname into any Google search takes you straight to that company’s Google+ Page.
Oh, and those +1s you’re collecting? Google search results display them, too. Customers searching your company view not just your running +1 total but also which of their own Google+ friends recommend you.
Talk to me
Google+ loves to chat. Use the Hangouts tool for face-to-face customer interaction, or take advantage of its extensive post capability (longer than Facebook or Twitter) to produce a mini-blog.
Don’t want to spam your friends and customers? Google+’s drag-and-drop Circles tool custom-organizes your contacts, allowing you to share content with specified groups, rather than your entire network. Create Circles for customers, colleagues, and team members, or even add a Circle for VIPs for special offers and loyalty programs.
Google loves Google
Claimed your Google Place yet? If so, Google+ instantly recognizes your business and connects your profiles. Running an Adwords campaign? Google can link them up too. Mix and match from Google Calendar, Docs, Maps and more to spin a web presence that search engines will love.
One thing you can bank on: Google has a stake in the success of Google+. Count on the search engine giant to give its social media baby every competitive advantage. And that means business.