5 practical actions and an example you can followGoogle+ is continuing to gather momentum, with more than 170 million users or more depending on who you listen to. At the same time though, there’s a lot of discussion around the number of active users and unconfirmed data that user engagement is weak. There’s no question that Google+ hasn’t arrived ‘main-stream’ yet, but we think the growth of it now warrants some attention when planning your content marketing, even if you keep the investment modest.
What’s so special about Google+?Guy Kawasaki said that Google+ is for “passions,” that’s what differentiates it, and though that’s maybe a little vague and consumer orientated, the notion of it makes good sense.
“Businesses should jump on Google+ because it’s the Wild West, so you can stake your claim, as opposed to breaking through the noise on Twitter and Facebook.” Guy KawasakiGoogle+ is very different to Twitter (as a constant stream of brief comments and perceptions), Facebook (which is hidden away for friends) and even your own blog or content hub on your own domain. Google+ is highly visible, blog-like, has a growing set of features (good content grouping and display, plus better use of photos and the new events) and of course has the video conferencing option of Hangouts. Tellingly, Google doesn’t want to position Google+ as a social network, with Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social business, and Bradley Horowitz, Google+’s vice president of product, stating at the Google I/O developer conference that:
“Google+ is just an upgrade to Google, People have a hard time understanding that. I think they like to compare us with other social competitors, and they see us through that lens instead of really seeing what’s happening.”This reinforces something Speaking on an earnings call last October, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page has said, he wants to “transform the overall Google experience” with Google+.
“This means baking identity and sharing into all of our products so that we build a real relationship with our users. Sharing on the Web will be like sharing in real life across all your stuff.”Let’s not forget Google’s power, either:
- They have a huge reach, bags of money and very talented people
- Google has prioritised Google+, it’s not another ‘Buzz’
- They own the (search) field and use of Google+ will give you more visibility in the search results
- They are pioneering in web browsers (Chrome), video (YouTube) and mobile (Android) software
Have a strategic purpose firstWe’d suggest that it’s better to remember to think strategically first, to ensure that Google+ has a tangible purpose for your brand and ideally clear goals or KPIs assigned to its use. You need to think through how the content you post will add something to your brand, given the users of Google+ and what you can offer on it through content and updates. No matter what Guy says, few of us are blessed with never-ending resource to just dive in, Wild West style. For example, the classic strategic approach for content marketing is to educate and problem-solve for your audience, which Google+ could easily support, the idea of thought leadership essentially. Equally it could be that want to offer your users a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your brand, build community, or just reveal a little brand personality (including that of your team). There are many possible angles and it doesn’t matter what yours is, we’re saying just ideally have one for Google+ for how you use it to support your brand before you dive in. It will make integrating a new channel much more likely to succeed as well as make measuring the impact clear.
Integrating Google+ for content marketingOK, so let’s assume you’re up for it, have created a profile and got all the basics right, how do you look to integrate at the tactical level? Here are our top 5 tips: 1. Basics: Hashtags and Mentions
- Hashtags usage is now really popular, thanks to Twitter. We’re starting to see them in more and more places, helping the consumer follow online conversations – and the marketer tie social mentions and sharing to their campaign. Just as with Twitter, insert hashtags into your Google+ status updates, Google will in turn automatically link that hashtag to the search results for that key phrase. Consider pairing your status updates to high-traffic Google+ search key phrases, this can only help your updates become more visible.
- +Mentions are similar to @’s on Twitter or tagging in Facebook. It enables targeted out-reach of course. To tag someone on Google+ and get their attention, simply type +their name. By tagging people you highlight that you’ve featured them or their brand, in turn increasing your visibility.
“Wired” magazine – a good exampleAs prolific user of Google+, a massive technology publisher and content creator in print and via a website, Wired issues daily updates pointing to curated content as well as originated across its’ website and blogs. These are some of their features we can learn from:
- Community and team social sharing. Multiple Wired journalists have their own Google+ pages (including Chris Anderson), each shares their own work as well as content around the web that interests them or that they run across on their beats, this in turn grows the larger Wired community on Google+, an aggregation of those individuals reach when multiple journalists’ posts appear on the main brand page. This reinforces their editorial team’s authority and brings a real human element.
- Mini blog posts. Forget just short posts and link-sharing, you’re not going to get the best out of Google+ which enables users to create rich posts – marketers can add context when sharing links, offering real value to users. Wired have expanded posts Google+, more than 200 words, making them mini-blog posts compared to other social networks. Great stuff for establishing authority
- Re-purposed content unleashed. Wired feature a good mix of re-purposed content as well as the latest mix of originated and curated articles. That mix of content enables good reach for Wired.com