March 4th - 2012

Wired Office: Google+ your business

A few months ago, here in the Wired Office column in REALTOR® EDGE, you read about Google+, which is yet another social media platform that enables people to connect on the Web.

A few months ago, here in the Wired Office column in REALTOR® EDGE, you read about Google+, which is yet another social media platform that enables people to connect on the Web. We ended our article with the statement that “the Google+ program for businesses is expected to launch later this year.” Well, true to its word, Google launched its Google+ Your Business program, in mid-November 2011.

The three key functions of Google+ Your Business are sharing, promoting and measuring. How this is done? Let us explore…

Google+ business pages help build stronger relationships with your customers by providing a platform for your to share your thoughts, links, photos and promotions with the right people at the right times. The same sharing functions available on Google+ personal pages are available for business pages.

You can manage Circles. Because different people may be interested in different aspects of your business, you can group them accordingly (for example, potential condo owners, those interested in commercial real estate, etc.), and push content directly to that target group rather than to all of your followers.

You can publish posts using Stream. Make sure your content, which can be text, images or video, is professional. Engage your customers by asking questions that start discussions. You can use the Hangouts function to engage in real-time video conversations with your customers, giving them a personal experience. For posts that aren’t specific to one particular group, make your posts public so they can be found using search.

Google's Plus One buttonYou want to push your Google+ content out to the world. Promote it by placing a +1 button anywhere and everywhere that you want people to recommend/share/like your content. By clicking a +1 button, you are publicly recommending that page across the web. You can connect your website to your Google+ page by adding a Google+ badge to your site. The badge is an enhanced version of the +1 button with the ability to add your page to a circle, directly from your site.

Google has a new feature called Direct Connect, which allows people to enter ‘+’ followed by the name of a Google+ page in Google search to be taken directly to the Google+ page. Currently only working for a limited number of pages, this will change. In preparation for Direct Connect, be sure to connect your Google+ page and your website using the Google+ badge, and add your website link to your Google+ page.

It’s always nice to receive affirmation that what you’re doing is effective. Google has measurement tools (with additional functions coming soon) to help you understand Google+ activity such as what people are saying about your business, how many +1s your business has received, and how these factors affect the number of visitors to your page. You can Google+ search keywords or names to get a better understanding of what people are saying about your brand.

Don’t just be a spectator – join conversations of interest if you have something of value to add. You can use Ripples to watch your posts spread across Google+, and see who is sharing and resharing your content. The Google Analytics suite of social reports provides tools and data to monitor the effectiveness of your +1s and your Google+ business page.

Google+ pages are gradually getting absorbed into Google’s search. When you search for a brand, you may also get a listing of posts from the associated Google+ page, giving the brand greater prominence in the search results. When customers are searching for you, wouldn’t you like to take up more space in the search results?

Be sure to give your business page some personality. Post unique content on your Google+ business page rather than reusing the same content you’ve already posted to other social networks. Content must be interesting and meaningful to your customers.

The fine print
Whether or not we admit it, most of us quickly accept, without reading, the online agreements that confront us and prevent us from proceeding to the next page of various websites. In the case of Google+, you need to read and be aware of the conditions. For example, you cannot “run contests, sweepstakes, offers, coupons or other such promotions” on Google+. You can link to these activities from your Google+ business page, but they must reside somewhere else. Through the Google+ Pages Additional Terms of Service, Google has reserved the right to block or remove any pages that violate its terms. If you repeatedly violate the terms, Google can suspend your account. Google also has the right to remove any Google+ pages that have been dormant for more than nine months. Make sure you read the fine print.

For additional information about Google+ Your Business, including how to create your business page, visit www.google.com/+/business.

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