Dissecting Google Plus with Andrew Harasewych

After Avtar’s encounter with Andrew to get his thoughts on Why Most Internet Marketer’s Are Wrong, I thought I’d track down the Google Plus Guru to get some great tips on G+ strategies. It was quite difficult nabbing him this time on the countryside of WWW. Nevertheless, here’s proof there nobody can hide from Beta21.

For those of you who are new to the digital arena, Andrew Harasewych is one of the top social media marketers who specializes in almost every area of online marketing. He’s a genuine know-it-all, who loves to share his knowledge and experience with the world. He’s also the COO of Weal Media, a digital PR firm and online marketing agency. Andrew is best known for his insights into G+, and has written several articles, eBooks, and tutorials for marketers to get a jumpstart on succeeding in this ever-elusive platform.

Here’s an exclusive uncensored interview with Andrew, where he divulges the secrets to success on Google Plus.

In your experience, what are the common obstacles that community managers face on Google+ and what are best practices that you can recommend for building a strong community on Google+?

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Before building any community, whether it’s a community of fans around your page, or a community on a social network like Google+, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or even an old-school forum or Listserv (does anyone use those any more?), you need to think about your intended audience. Do you want to be a hub for thought leaders and experts to engage and discuss, or for beginners in your industry to get a foot in the door, or to learn the basics? Or maybe something in between.[/box]

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If you want to be an “advanced/expert hub,” you need to only promote the highest quality content. Quality in a community breeds more quality content and quality users. Sure, people will say they want an “all inclusive” community that walks everyone through the process of joining, but the problem with this is that your advanced users, the ones who post quality content, have large followings and audiences of their own, and can truly help build a community, they don’t want to deal with the noise. Advanced users get sick of seeing the same old “how to” guides for the basics. It’s what we’ve done in the Social Media Strategy community. You won’t find the same old regurgitated posts about the “5 XXX you need to get XXX Engagement.” Instead, you are more likely to find expert analysis of the latest Google search algorithm updates, or the analysis and overview of a recent social campaign by a major player in the industry. It’s a place for intelligent conversation, not a continuous stream of “How do I do this” single line posts. Sure, there needs to be a place for it – but every community cannot be everything to everybody!

Focus on your priorities and goals, whether it’s a place for beginners to just hang out and chat, or if it’s a place you’d prefer experts to post. The way you run that community or the types of things you share on the profile or page around your community have to reflect that.[/box]

Formulating a strategy that works usually involves trial and error. Is there a case that was particularly interesting in your experience?

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Something I’ve been learning over time is that some battles will never be won. On the internet, there will always be someone who wants to disrupt a comment thread, or argue just for the sake of argument. You need to learn to pick your battles, and give up the fight when the battle is lost.

It’s amazing to see the simple things work. Working as a webmaster and social consultant for a popular podcast series (by a certain popular astrophysicist who will remain nameless) has really been a blast. Something that has been fun is working with this huge pool of fans and followers, and really being able to get almost instantaneous feedback and engagement on posts. When I started, all the posts were simple 1-2 sentences and a link, and sporadic. No real schedule or focus on Google+, it was more of an afterthought. Engagement was not bad, but certainly not on the same level as Facebook engagement at the time.

By simply focusing on unique content, sharing content from sources other than ourselves, formatting posts (with bold titles, italicized quotes, and underline for emphasis!) and being consistent with all of this, not only have we since seen engagement skyrocket from current fans, but we were quickly added to the Suggested User List, and since October of last year, the page following on Google+ is over 2.5 million users. That is over a 1000% increase in following in just eight months.[/box]

What tips do you have for social media managers that have to develop a good Google+ strategy?

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I’ve found that most often, people fail on Google+ because they treat it like other networks. This isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Don’t just assume you can port the same one-liners and low quality clickbait type activity to Google+ and achieve the same results. The number one piece of advice I can give people is to be descriptive. If you drop a link – be sure to take a paragraph or two and describe the content of the post. Anyone can go to a search engine and just get a list going to see when we get there. Well described posts ALWAYS do better than a post with just a single line, or no additional text/commentary at all, especially if you have not had the chance to build up some trust and authority in a subject. To give you an example, if Vic Gundotra posted a single link with no description, he’d likely still go viral with the post. If a newcomer to Google+ does the same, nothing will happen.[/box]

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The reason for describing a post, in my opinion, is twofold. First, link litter (as we call anything with just a link and sentence or less) is lazy. It shows no care, no effort, and proves nothing to others about your own ideas, abilities, and experience. By taking the time to describe the post, you show people that you have read and digested the information yourself, and you have a chance to prove some authority on the subject by expanding upon and making comments on the content. Secondly, all of this additional text helps your post get found! Remember, this is Google after all. People search all the time. By targeting your post content, just as you would blog content, you can actually influence keyword searches for your potential audience. Not only are these posts found within Google+, but as Google nearly instantly indexes every public Google+ post, you now have the chance of ranking on a Google+ post just as you would with a website or blog post.

Sure, your readers like when you deliver information. But people would rather engage and discuss if you share your analysis.[/box]

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I’m sure Andrew’s tips can help you rethink your strategies and build successful campaigns. We will jam with him again to dissect other tough digital subjects.

Tune into SMHangout on Google Plus for excellent G+ hacks from Andrew and many other experts.

Google+ Content Strategy: Android

Surprisingly, Google+ pages is an underestimated and often under-utilized tool in the realm of social media marketing. However, the good people over at Android’s online marketing department would doubtlessly swear by it. According to SocialBakers, Android is currently topping the list for the most likes on a Google+ page this month–an impressive 7 million!

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Visuals

Let’s ease on in with some visuals, shall we? We can’t stress how important visual presence is as an online marketing strategy. It is generally the first thing the public will notice, and often the most retained information.

Android has a good grasp on this factor; one glance at their Google+ page, and you will be greeted with a flurry of bright, colorful, aesthetically pleasing posts. Android’s visuals essentially fall into 2 categories–their ads featuring the android mascot (that little, green, alien-esque dude), and functional ads, which feature a high resolution background, with an android device held in front of it, displaying a pertinent app.

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The Android mascot apps are great – they depict the brand’s martian-like spokesman in various activities related to current events or a product. These range from the little guy playing soccer for the World Cup, dressed in a graduation gown to congratulate recent college grads, or hoisting dumbbells and in full workout attire to promote the My Track app. These posts are surprisingly effective because they essentially cover three key marketing bases with one cute, entertaining image:

  • Android is providing the consumer with relevant information and current events, and linking it to their brand or product.
  • The use of the mascot in these ads reinforces their brand image. You see him, and you think “Android”.
  • You are providing the consumer or follower with entertainment, a laugh or smile, and not just spamming them with “buy our product” ads.

The second type of visual that is present on the Google+ page are the ads which directly feature Android’s products. In these ads, an Android device is in the foreground, with an attractive setting behind. On the screen of the device, we can clearly see some sort of app being used, often one which is relevant to the setting. These visuals do not seem to be as effective, and on a whole, have less likes than the Android mascot–and for good reason. They are essentially just screenshots of someone using an app, with a pretty background behind.

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Content

Android’s Google+ content is a bit of a mixed bag. There are copious amounts of attractive visuals and ads, which we just discussed, but they also make sure to employ interactive content, such as the Androidify app and video content.

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Android’s page also offers the latest industry news, keeping customers and followers coming back to stay informed. They also engage customers by encouraging them to send in photos related to the current holiday, such as their “show us what you heart” promotion for Valentine’s Day, where followers were asked to send in pictures of people, places, and things they love.

Having content that engages or encourages fans to participate is invaluable to any brand. It keeps fans coming back for more, and it makes them feel as though they are part of a community–this is undoubtably what contributed to, at least in part, the recent spike in Android\’s Google+ popularity.

Insights From Jesse Stay

For further insights on Android\’s success with Google Plus, we spoke with social media expert and Vice President of Social Media at Fit Marketing, Jesse Stay. Jesse is a seasoned speaker, author, and consultant on the topics of social media, and has written six books in this field. He was also featured as one of 20 developers to follow and one of 10 entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Mashable.

Why do you think Android has been doing so well, from an online marketing standpoint?

Jesse: I\’ll be honest – a lot of Android\’s success is because it\’s owned by Google, and the influence they have in their own products and cross-integration between those products. That, along with a strong interface that interfaces really well with Google products is the reason it has taken off so well. My experience is that the more a brand can \”own\” the experience and make it as easy for them to use their products, the more their products will spread.

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I\’m not privy to their marketing strategy, but I wouldn\’t doubt that they\’re also applying a strong SEO, PPC, as well as social ad strategy (but as you see in my response below I\’m not 100% sure of that – they may not be doing anything there). Also, just searching for \”cell phone\” on Google brings up a whole host of their vendors\’ sponsored ads all promoting Android phones. I\’d say a strong and solid partnership with the major mobile phone brands (and the acquisition of Motorola\’s mobile division) has had a big affect on their success. Going open source also probably helped, as that made the transition for vendors even easier.

What tactics do you think contributed to Android\’s Google+ page, in particular, getting so much traffic?

Jesse: My experience is that many of Google+\’s most passionate users have a strong bias towards Google products. Where Google+ is a Google product, and Android is a Google product, I anticipate psychologically Android\’s Google+ page would be one of the first places Google+ users flock to. In addition, Android is already on many suggested accounts to follow lists as users join Google+, giving them even more opportunities to grow.

All of the other Google+ accounts also share content from the Android Google+ channel frequently. I have no doubt that drives more followers as people recognize the Android brand, something many Google+ users are already passionate about. So to sum up, Android just fits the demographic of a typical Google+ user.

Why do you think there is such a large disparity between Android’s Facebook page (1+million likes) and Android’s Google+ page (over 7 million likes)?

Jesse: I think it\’s just further proof of my point earlier that Android is a much more familiar brand on Google+, and that it has an advantage on Google products. I\’m not seeing a ton of evidence that Google is advertising their Facebook Page on Facebook (and if they are they\’re doing a horrible job at it), so I\’m sure that contributes. Google needs to invest a little more into their Facebook Page to see growth there (in other words, they have to actually try over on Facebook). I\’m noticing they\’re not giving much enticement to their fans to engage in posts. The images they\’re using aren\’t quite sharable enough. Honestly, it doesn\’t look like they\’re putting much effort into Facebook. I anticipate it\’s the same on Google+, but they get more fans there because it\’s a Google product.

Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Brand Be On?

The all encompassing social media has got everyone running at a marathon\’s pace to create a presence on the world wide web. With the online marketing cosmos having players such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, LinkedIn to name a few, the dilemma of making the right choice for marketing your product/blog/service is no less complicated than a three year old solving a Rubik\’s Cube.

Why Should You Be Present On Social Media?

  • Create a presence on social media to monitor what’s being said about you
  • Incredible tool for deepening connection with customers
  • Yield larger interest among customers through detailed marketing
  • Faster mode of communication
  • Minimal investment for small and medium scale businesses

With all the social media channels at our disposal, it is not a choice, but now a necessity to make one\’s presence in not one, but all the spheres of the online marketing. The social media channels not only enable way less cash outflow than traditional marketing techniques, but also channelizes our product and services through the right mediums enabling a larger market presence. The choice of the right channel or a multitude of channels however is the smart thing to do, helping you make sure that you are heard. So here\’s a basic checklist for business to determine which social media platforms they should be present and spending their resources on:

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Choosing The Right Platform

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A brand should focus their time and resources on practical social media platforms that work for them. Research has to be done to figure where their target audience is on social media and which platforms are most effective at creating brand awareness and engagement. If your target audience is minimal or non-existent on a particular platform, don’t waste your time on it. Read, research, plan, organize, schedule and make your way mark on social media.

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In the small scale sphere, Wed Me Good,  an online portal that helps you to find wedding inspirations, ideas and the professionals who create dream weddings took to Facebook in the month of February, 2014. In it, you can view gorgeous real weddings and see the vendors they hired, or browse wedding inspirations by color, theme and category. With great content, visuals and links, WedMeGood got itself more than 3,000 likes in a span of two months. This poses as a great example of what benefits you receive while choosing the right platform.

Using More Than 1 Platform

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With a list of social media channels available, it does not come as a surprise when we find other social media brands having accounts on rival social media channels. In August last year, Instagram went offline for over an hour. They eventually took to Twitter to share their technical issue. This was due to the all encompassing presence of these channels making it inevitable for these channels to have accounts with their rivals.

Essentially, choosing the right social media platform is an individualistic choice that varies from business to business. What works for your competitor may not work for your brand. Thorough research and analysis should be done, so that your efforts and resources are not wasted on creating a presence on a social platform that doesn\’t end up working for you brand.

Here\’s How Blockbusters Use Social Media

They scream. They entice. They engage. They mesmerize you all the way into booking the show right on the release date. Movie promos on social media platforms are powerful enough to make or break a movie. They engage with the audience and can bring out the spirit of the movie.  New age directors, fresh movie themes and innovative approaches in movie production have paved the way for a new stream of cinema. Combined with social media marketing this is, truly, a marriage made in heaven.

Movie promoters have moved on from traditional magazine interviews and BTL campaigns to capturing \’likes\’ and \’shares\’ on social media. It’s not just about ‘eyeballs’ and one way communication, but the interactivity and level of engagement offered by social media platform is unmatched. Let\’s take a look at how two movies – Godzilla and The Amazing Spiderman – made use of social media marketing to promote themselves.

Godzilla

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After a 16 year gap, Godzilla returns by sweeping away happy ‘likes’ from fans and smashing the box office and with its strategic marketing approach. The marketers carefully spaced out the first release of the poster, the website and the trailer before wrapping up with a flurry of online promotions. The campaign also gave an opportunity to win tickets using the Godzilla location tracker. The fans got to design Godzilla themed wall papers and download Godzilla themed ring tones. These audio visual aids help in creating a mood and tone and mounting curiosity to watch the legendary beast return to the big screen.

The #GodzillaRoar

There was extensive campaign on Vine where fans were asked to send their best Godzilla impressions using the hashtag #godzillaroar. Not to mention the mobile and desktop games. The campaigns drew excitement from the fans as it featured creations from fans on the Godzilla tumblr site. The marketers invited prominent YouTubers to produce ‘Godzilla’ themed videos, some which received millions of views.

The most awaited movie of 2014, ‘Godzilla’ is characterized by the classic Godzilla roar, the most iconic sound effect from the film. The campaign chose to place emphasis and pay tribute using 6 second video loops. The fans were encouraged to go on a roaring frenzy and create a vine video of the primal fury. Now, this was a refreshing start in engaging the fans, an out-of-the box initiative aimed at creating a sense of involvement with the Monster on screen. So fresh, that it got fans roaring, gawking, walking  like a two legged monster! Social media marketing win? We think so too.

This is the vine that came out tops:

The Amazing Spiderman

The Spiderman saga continues its reboot, exciting all super hero movie goers with a very tactical social media campaign. The campaign invited the super fans from the New York film academy to participate in a promotional video. Engagement is the key here. Why be a mute audience when you can be a part of the movie promo?

 

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There is also a tumblr page for the ‘The Daily Bugle’ (Spideys local newspaper!) which features viral content dropping hints on the suspense factor of the film.

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The director of ‘The Amazing Spiderman’, Marc Webb hosted the first ever film – themed ‘Google+ Shoppable hangout’, for fans to pick tickets and buy soundtrack on Google Play. The movie crew also conducted a hangout with the hashtag #spidermanhangout to interact with Spidey fans.

Moving away from traditional marketing mediums, the film industry has gone a long way in embracing social media marketing, gathering likes, acquiring followers and engaging through self- styled video campaigns. The striking aspect of social media is that the movie tugs at the social strings, creating a sense of involvement with the audience. It used to be that you had to go the theatre to watch a trailer of an upcoming movie. Now we have teasers that are released prior to the trailer launch to scale up the excitement factor. Movie production houses now sends out press releases, launches websites, creates movie apps, co-partners with brands that instill the feel of the film. What’s the best part? You get to buy your tickets on Facebook and invite friends too!

Humanizing is the key here. The striking aspect that these movie promos place an emphasis on is –‘Engagement’. Breaking away from the conventional one-way interaction medium, social media talks, listens and responds. When the characters come to life, movies take the audience along on their journey creating a truly immersive experience for the movie-goer.

10 Google+ Tips For Community Managers

While Google+ has an upcoming 3rd birthday around the corner, there has been some speculation of Google shifting their focus away from the social media platform. Despite naysayers predicting an eventual doom for the social media platform, there are over 300 million active users worldwide who frequent the platform. Before we plunge into our 10 Google+ tips for community managers, here are 4 of the most basic yet important factors of Google+ that you should take note of:

Achieving Reach on Google+

The more active your brand is, the higher your articles will rank in Google SERPs. Google authorship used to show your profile picture next to your articles on Google search, but this feature unfortunately has reached the end of its line. Many users have been crying foul about this the removal of this lately. Nonetheless, if you are actively managing your personal or brand\’s Google+ profile, you will be effectively taking advantage of Google\’s ranking.

Engaging in Communities

Google+ is well known for their active communities, especially those around professional industries. We at Beta21 frequently visit a bunch of social media communities to keep ourselves up to date with new campaigns and trends and these communities are always buzzing with engagement. Having your brand engage in relevant Google+ communities will help in growing your following, which will in turn give you the reach you are aspiring for. If you are in a niche industry, create your own community and share original or curated content. Eventually you will be able to attract an audience and build an online community around your business, while being a thought leader or influencer in your industry.

Creating Customized Circles

While we\’re on the topic of influencers, Google+ is filled with active (sometimes overly-active) influencers in almost every industry who are always 10 steps ahead of you. Adding them to a specific circle of yours will also provide yourself with an effective means of keeping up to date with the latest changes and news in your industry.

Circles also provide you the choice of segmenting your community, which will come in handy when you\’re posting content. You can appeal to various audience groups by making the right content visible to the right target audience. This way you\’ll be able to garner greater reach, while still staying relevant to your audience.

Formatting Content

The cool thing about Google+ is the ability to format your content before posting it out. No other social media platform allows you to bold or italics your text before posting them. Check out this cheat sheat that tells you how to format your content, which is especially useful for long form text that is commonly seen on Google+. While the options are few and basic, a little formatting goes a long way.

Check out our slideshare that has more specific and detailed Google+ tips for community managers:

Google+ Changes Link Share Layout With Larger Images

While many remain skeptical about the popularity or eventual success of Google+, I for one am quite happy with the experience Google+ provides. I\’m a part of some interesting communities where I often find interesting discussion taking place, and often it\’s a little more fun to go through my Google+ feed rather than my Twitter feed because it\’s a lot more visual.

Today, I noticed that Google+ had taken a leaf out of Facebook\’s book, and had changed the way link-shares were being displayed. After sharing an article about Moz, I noticed that the image being shown in the share was a lot larger than I had previously encountered across Google+.

Here\’s what the post looks like:

https://plus.google.com/108140238181191084668/posts/KMA4CinoW1J

For someone who rejoiced when Facebook started showing larger images in link-share posts, this was one of the pieces in the Google+ puzzle that has given me considerable satisfaction. I won\’t quote the 500 stats about how images get shared more than text and all that drivel, because we\’re all well aware of this fact. People like visuals, and Google+ just made that tiny change to give us a more visual feed.

I took a look at some other pages to see what their posts looked like, and sure enough, one of Mashable\’s recent shares also has a nice large image attached to the link:

https://plus.google.com/113493854651753327245/posts/SmMbiaiuvvB

The change doesn\’t seem to have affected link-shares posted earlier. Here\’s one of my previously shared posts:

https://plus.google.com/108140238181191084668/posts/6rS5TEqGd14

As you can see, it still has a fairly small image showing up in the preview, even though the source image is large enough for Google+ to spread it across like it\’s doing with newer link-shares.

Previously, I found myself attaching images to Google+ posts just to attract people\’s attention, but now since the visual is being given a considerable amount of space in the post preview – hopefully we can focus a little more on what truly matters – the content.

Social Media Resolutions for Google+ in 2014

Yet again a New Year and yet again the resolutions get us fixated! Three weeks into the New Year and we wonder how many of you all are still adhering to your resolutions. It is reasonable to let go of personal resolutions at times, nevertheless it may be tad tricky if they are professional, especially if these were woven around Social Media platforms for your brand/business.

There is no debate that most brands today reach its audience via Facebook and Twitter with limited exposure to Google+. Hence it is proper to state that Google+ is the ugly duckling of Social Media. Wait a minute did I just say ugly? Take a moment to ponder and you would realise that we are clearly hinting at the transformation Google+ is going through to be able to turn itself in to a beautiful swan. If you have read our previous story on its emergence you would agree for sure!

A Google+ page increase the chances of a brand’s visibility, better customer engagement and needless to say better analytics. Google+ enjoys the repute of a being the medium used by a savvy audience and hence the Social Media strategy on Google+ should be nothing short of being unique. Before we dig deeper into this here’s a sneak peek on what the world did on Google+ in 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HgKsmqqmKQ

We have already given you insights on Social Media resolutions for Facebook and Twitter and it’s obvious that we complete the trilogy with Google+. Here’s our take on what should your resolutions for 2014 on Google+ be.

Drive traffic to Google+:

Driving traffic to Google+ page should be the most important resolution that a brand should make in 2014. Brands should use their active pages on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to achieve the same. This task would help your followers to connect with your brand in a more holistic way. If your brand does not have a presence on Google+ yet, this would also act as an initial seed and the brand managers can take it forward and can grow from there. Many small and big businesses have followed this approach and have benefitted from the same. This is what the famous band Back Street Boy’s did to reach out to a larger audience and utilizing their Twitter account.

We can\’t wait to Hangout with you on Google+ in just over an hour!!! Make sure you join us here http://t.co/PoARJUsKnM #BSBHangout — backstreetboys (@backstreetboys) July 1, 2013

Connect people in Real time:

One of the key features of Google+ is Google hangout. Apart from the regular update brands should utilise this option to communicate better with their audiences. There is no better joy than to experience things in real time mode. Google+ hangouts also minimize marketing budgets since it is a free medium. Celebs can use it to launch albums or movies, brands may utilise it for Q&A sessions or other important announcements and politicians for mast canvassing and ideating their thoughts on causes of national concern.

Brands like National Geographic and Lonely Planet use this feature for live interaction with its audience sharing with them interesting travel trivia, connecting its audience to explorers, mountain climbers and celebrating events. National Geographic’s hangout celebrating its 125th anniversary recently was a huge success. Its Google+ page also updates its audience about the upcoming hangout adding on to more conversations about the brand.

https://plus.google.com/109600806421917664383/posts/ZT7w5D9udRZ

Brands can also utilize this aspect to host an in house meeting especially if the business is spread across the globe! Google+ also adds to the digital footprint of the brand and can be saved as you tube video for future reference by the audience.

Build admirable content:

We have emphasized on content being the hero, time and again. However the dynamics change on Google+ entirely. Unlike other platforms Google+ offers the maximum space for a brand to express itself, in other words- 100,000 characters. Brands need to have unique and engaging content to woo its audience on Google+. A good Google+ post content could include a good mix of product updates, product launch, and exclusive interviews.

https://plus.google.com/105559592074214260785/posts/4mCMQmnSpq7

Make Google+ the platform to share behind the scene stories, also a platform to announce “never heard before” scoop and exclusive contests or promotions. These tactics would make your audience visit your page more often, simply because of the exclusivity they get there. A good content strategy may include tips and short learning tutorials. Toyota today is by far the best brand on Google+.

Apart from the exemplary content strategy its USP lies in the audience engagement that it brings about. Toyota brought about ‘Toyota Collaborator’ feature that helped potential customer take a tour of Corolla’s (the brand’s top selling sedan) interiors, choose accessories, take a virtual tour and even interact with a Toyota dealer exclusively on its Google+ page.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjEJUi9alUc

Audience Interaction:

Audience interaction is the key to any Social Media platform. Create your content strategy that evokes your audience to interact with your brand. Engaging posts usually as questions get better response. Resolve issues and build camaraderie between the brand and its audience. This can be done by posting in the community, again a powerful tool on Google+ page.

‘Smart’ Hashtagging:

Twitter revolutionized it, Facebook followed it as well – although it\’s failed so far. The question is how good is it to use hashtags in your Google+ posts? This has a one word answer –Excellent, especially when your brand has an active Google+ page. Apart from the relevant hashtags that pop up on Google+ page (Smart tags) incorporate your brand name as a hashtag as well, it increases your chances of visibility many folds.

This is what we discovered when we searched #Cocacola on Google search. Not only did it populate the Google+ page of Coca-Cola it also gave real time interactions happening around the brand, something on the lines of twitter! \"Smart

Get smart with Images:

Image sharing plays a crucial role on Social Media. According to studies an individual spends anywhere between 3minutes-7minutes on a Google+ page on a given day. This is a very small window to create an impact, and what better way to do it than including images as a part of content strategy. Google+ has incorporated certain unique features that would make image sharing a far better user experience. These include Auto Enhance, Auto Awesome and Auto Highlight features that would increase the image quality. And didn’t someone say that a picture is worth a thousand words!

Keep an eye on trends:

When we say keep eye on trends we just don’t mean Google+ trends alone. Apart from technology aiding how we handle social media, use experience to keep a tab on how things are changing, how companies are engaging its audience, what strategies can make an impact. We observed that T-Mobil responds to every post, that you mention them in!

The world of Google is changing and re-inventing itself quite quickly. We recommend that you ride on this wave and make the most for your business through the Google+ page.

Best Ways to Get Noticed on Google+ and Expand Your Influence

Let me put this as simply as I can for you, if you aren’t taking Google+ seriously yet, you’re missing out on an enormous opportunity.

Don’t believe me? Well let me tell you exactly why your business needs to jump on the Google+ bandwagon TODAY! It is becoming difficult to deny that Google+ is important as a social networking arena. Research suggests its well on its way to surpassing Facebook in terms of social sharing activity. It has a direct and significant impact on numerous other Google services, including search. Can you say SEO people?!

Besides all of the measurements, those of us who have embraced Google+ have found a thriving and active community of passionate tech enthusiast who regularly comment on posts, follow links and reshare material- a presence that is very valuable for both personal and professional interaction.

I myself am among the satisfied pack that’s tapped into Google+’s potential. With only starting my own Google+ account several months ago, I have already created valuable relationships and a stellar amount of interaction. The level of engagement and quality of discussion I see on G+ are vastly superior to what I see on other social networks (especially Facebook).

So what does it take to even get noticed and expand your influence on Google+? Once you have learned the basics of the services, you can start applying these helpful strategies that Google+ subscribers have found to be helpful:

1. Find your crowd

Any social network has the potential to seem quiet when you first arrive. While Google+ may not be the platform for gathering all your aunts, uncles and old high school acquaintances, it is ideal environment for finding people who actually share your professional and person interests.

\”The amount of effort required to fill your stream with interesting conversation is minimal,\” says Fraser Cain, a space enthusiast who runs the Universe Today blog and has amassed over 800,000 followers on Google+. \”Your first step is to follow people you\’re interested in hearing from, then after a while it seems busier and busier.\”

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Google+ gives you a helping hand by suggesting groups of people who post about topics you like as well as people with whom you have a connection (TIP: you can always access those suggestions by navigating to the \”People\” section of the site). Another good way to find some folks include using the G+ search function to look for people posting about your area of interest and browsing through the site’s \”What\’s Hot\” section to find users who are actively sharing interesting content.. Be aware that there will be a lot of posts unrelated to your niche but always provide for a pretty good chuckle or two.

Then of course there is always the option to search for specific experts and industry leaders, even small tech writers, who write and discuss about your favorite subjects. Commentaries aside they are going to be your key to reshared content from other users that’ll be relevant to you and this also helps you encounter other interesting people that comment on their posts.

2. Become the core of your niche

Since there is no fairy dust that you can sprinkle to gain Google+ followers, you are going to have to be an active participant in your niche, whatever it may be. Do your best to follow people who talk about topics relevant to what you are also discussing or sharing and then of course interact on their posts as much as possible. Discussion value aside, you’d be surprised how many people will circle you when you leave insightful, interesting or funny comments in the right places.

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With actively participating it can also lead to your inclusion in shared circles-personal recommendation lists that people pass along on Google+, as well as within the site’s own internal recommendations.

Another area of Google+ you want to strongly consider when finding followers is in Google+’s growing collection of communities, which is in simple terms a organized discussion forums that revolve around targeted topics. In these forums it is also true that a little bit of effort can go a long way.

3. Make yourself discoverable

I know, I know, this should be fairly obvious, but you would be surprised how many skip this crucial step. It is important to take the couple extra minutes and fill out your Google+ profile, including a somewhat professional photo of yourself, remember to smile!

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\”When people search for others who are passionate about a certain subject, if you don\’t have [the relevant terms] in your profile, Google doesn\’t know to include you,\” says, Sarah Hill, a reporter with the Veterans United Network who\’s assembled 2.7 million G+ followers.

A consistent identity across social networks can also be helpful, especially if you\’ve already built a following in other places. Google+ allows you to create professional pages for organizations that can be managed by multiple users. It helps if your company\’s Google+ page is immediately recognizable and consistent with the rest of your business\’s online presence.

4. Share the right stuff

When you create your Google+ account, you have to decide what your goal is for setting up this social media platform. Will you be using your profile professionally or personally? If you are using Google+ as a professional social media platform then posting and sharing content should be directly related to your niche. The more you focus on your niche, the more focus others will have on your site and understanding to what you’re all about.

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You want to post information that’s relevant to the kind of audience you want to have interacting with you.

By no means do this mean you have to be the single-note sharer; sprinkling in the occasional “just because” post, whether it be a behind the scene glimpse at your work, a funny photo relevant to your area of discussion or an amusing anecdote, this can broaden your appeal and help establish you as a real person worth following. Some of the most popular Google+ posts have been random images or off-the-cuff quips that tie into my favorite geeky subjects but have no direct connection to any stories I’ve written. Add a little bit of dessert to your vegetables and remember not to talk about yourself all the time.

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5. Take advantage of the technology

Last but not least, take full advantage of the technology Google+ has provided you. The Hangouts element of Google+ is arguably the service’s killer feature and it can be a powerful weapon for anyone looking to build a following of like-minded individuals.

Hangouts let you have one on one or group conversations via video and if you’re so inclined, share the video to your stream live or even after the broadcast. Sarah Hill uses Hangout to host interviews with people relevant to her field as well as to hold A&A style discussions with her followers.

 \”We\’re interacting with people face to face, not just chatting with their avatars,\” Hill says. \”It\’s a deeper level of real-time engagement.\”

With the basics of Google+ covered, now it is your turn to jump in and start swimming. Tell us about your Google+ experience in the comments; I would love to hear what worked for you and what didn’t work.

No go forth and share the knowledge!

Google Plus – the dark horse emerges from anonymity

While all of us were training our resources on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – Google Plus was making a sly and steady ascent to the top. Recently, the dark horse made to it to the second spot right next to Facebook in terms of active users. Twitter, toppled, tumbled to the third.

Many of us dismissed Google Plus as a social network. It was thought that no sentient being treads that ground. The point we all missed is that Google is omnipresent. Clearly, we were way off the mark with that assumption. The above fact dispels that notion.

The moot point, then, is whether it’s time for brands to focus on Google Plus. The answer is a resounding ‘YES’. The few points explained below will bolster that assertion:

A Big Help for SEO

SEO, it\’s the magic word that makes every marketer sit up. Google is massively invested in verifying authenticity of your content. So, with all the Google properties – Youtube, email, Google document sharing, hangout, maps, blog, listing in business pages and the myriad apps – when your customers are engaging with you on Google Plus, your SEO rankings are sure to go up significantly. Notably, a recent report announced Facebook ‘likes’ don’t contribute to Google search rankings.

Combines Features of Different Platforms

Google Plus has managed to encompass all the best features of different social media platforms we use for different purposes. So, it has the Twitter hashtags. It has the LinkedIn Communities. It has Youtube’s live streaming with Hangout on Air. It also has the Facebook ‘likes’ in +1s as well as Business Pages in line with FB Brand Pages and many, many more features. Even Pinterest and Tumblr will have a tough time competing with it.

Pays to be Early

It pays to be early on Google Plus, when there is less clutter of other brands in that space. It is all over the news that Facebook engagement is declining. Moreover, it now costs more in Facebook to cut through the noise. Google Plus is still free. The Millennials are rumored to be embracing Google Plus more. It won’t be far when Google Plus is a formidable force in Social media. Isn’t it a great scenario to be present already where your fans are joining it by hordes? They wouldn’t be distracted by your competitors while waiting for you to sprout-up out there.

A Natural Extension of the Mail Service

Google Plus is a natural extension of the mail service. With every new account, a Google Plus profile is automatically created. If one is using more than a few Google services, they are more likely to have a Google Plus profile. What is exciting is that, it is seamlessly integrated in the mail. So, when you are involved in mail exchanges with somebody, his/her Google Plus activity is displayed on the side, within the mail. This means, all the social media averse blokes and ‘blokettes’, who managed to stay away till now, will now be assimilated in this platform. Do I hear more reach?

Real Communities

Google Plus communities are designed to encourage real interactions. So, even as a business page you can join a community, participate in discussions, hangout, create an event, collaborate and so on. The best part is that they appear in Google searches. What could be more compelling?

Those Circle Things

The concept of circles makes it easy for you to segment your audience according to your preference and tailor communication accordingly. So, be it gender, age, locality and so on – it makes perfect sense for brands and a great remedy for reaching the right audience.

Post Activity Tracker

The post activity tracker had me give in to the promising appeal of this platform. Its elegant flip design lets you track the performance of each post just by clicking the option on top right drop down menu. The post flips to give you the details of the post engagement. It is so cool, it makes me play with it!

As the year progresses, Google will surely add many more features to Google Plus and make it impossible to resist. The reason to be there are already compelling enough. I am sure, there are so many aspects to this platform that I left uncovered. I welcome your comments on what according to you makes a case for Google Plus to be at the center of a brand’s social media strategy.

And since everyone loves infographics, here\’s one about Facebook vs Google.

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Google+Ads –The New Game Changer?

Marketers today realise the importance of their visibility on Social Media platforms. No wonder more and more brands are proposing the same , as a part of its core marketing strategy.

Brands today connect to their audience on popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Apart from the seamless conversations, these networking sites also help in generating ROI through various advertisements, making it a profitable call for businesses today.

A lesser experienced social networking site by businesses today is Google +.

The Good News: Google+ today is all set to revolutionize this space with a head-on by introduction of Google+ Ads recently announced by the company.

The Bad News: Your brand does not have a presence on Google+, yet.

For starters let’s have a sneak peek into why should your business have visibility on Google+?

  • Google+ today has more than 500 million members (second only to Facebook). For companies looking at boosting their businesses, this comes as a great opportunity.
  • Google +, being a proprietary of Google Inc. sure has it\’s benefits. Google + pages are automatically indexed by Google, hence working as a parallel SEO strategy with more visibility for your company, without shelling the extra bucks. Also, the seamless nature of Google helps the businesses to rank higher in local searches as well.
  • As a business, it is critical to interact with customers. Google Hangouts, a feature of Google+ aids in quality interaction with customers in a real time interface with live chat.
  • Apart from the many other benefits, the most important reason for the business to have it\’s presence on Google+ is the presence of your followers, however small or large.

With the advent of Google+ Ads any post on Google+ can be transformed into an Ad conveniently. Google + would offer it’s “+Post” ads outside its network which implies that though the Ads would be similar to a Google post it would be seen only on Google’s Ad network on web, on various sites or as a recommendation if the post is public, thus showing the Ads only when they are relevant to its users, far from popping up between two posts! And all likelihood adding an “actual” follower or fan to the business/brand.

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The “+Post” ads show uniqueness in the fact that a user could leave comments,  join a hangout, follow your business or simply give +1 from the ad itself  thus making it an authentic conversation with the brand. This strategy also opens content to more realistic and bigger audience.

Companies thinking of the budgets here may breathe an air of respite here. The business need to pay only in case of an engagement; also post the campaign is completed the Ads are still viewable on search engines as well as Google+.

Key Parameters for Google “+ posts”:

Though this is not exhaustive by any means, the listed parameters should definitely help you choose the right kind of Google+ posts that should be promoted as ads. Before we dig deep it is extremely critical to understand that ‘Content’ is the key to any ad. Apart from being meaningful they should be able to evoke curiosity & emotions. Ads should be demonstrative as well as interactive hence:

  • Promote posts with information: Every buyer wants information about the product, promoting such posts will be useful, since it should help buyers make an informed decision.
  • Promote posts / Run ads with posts that talk about offers: Buyers today are always on look out for special offers, this strategy shall help you connect with this target audience. Such ads should be linked back to the landing page that offers sales.

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  • Promote posts that list the brand USP: In a time when markets  are filled with options, posts that highlight the USP of the product should help buyers come back to your page. This could include stats or unique features of the product

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  • Promote posts that aim at engagement:

We are in a world where sharing  by a ‘click’, is the new age ‘word of mouth’. Posts which are engaging will help your brand gain momentum.

The Final Verdict:  It\’s time for a quick makeover in your Social Media Strategy if your business doesn\’t  have a presence on Google+ yet .All we can suggest is hop on the bandwagon and make the most of it!