With the launch of Google+ Pages, businesses can finally join this new social site, but if you’re wondering if it is worth the time to commit to another social network, you are not alone. Many are keen to know what Google+ has to offer that they can’t already get on Facebook or Twitter. Google+ has many features, such as Hangouts, Circles, and Ripple (and coming out with more all the time) which make it particularly useful for businesses – maybe even more so than for individuals.
1. Getting to Know the People Behind the Company
Google+’s brand pages are much more than another place for businesses to advertise, but are a way for people to get to know and interact with those behind the company. This provides a great opportunity to build brand loyalty as consumers feel much more connected with a business when they can put a face with the overall public image.
Instead of mass messages to all followers, businesses are encouraged to form “Hangouts” where small groups of 10 users can participate in a video chat with someone of interest from the company. Those who are curious, but not involved in the chat, can stream the conversation and watch everything that happens. What better way to show customers you care than by speaking to them directly?
Who’s doing this: While promoting their recent movie, The Muppets held a Google+ Hangout where fans could chat with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and other famous characters. The Muppets were one of the first businesses to establish a Google+ brand page and serve as a good example of how to do it right.
2. Posting Unique Content
Google+ and its users are not interested in seeing recycled Facebook content. Although both are social networking sites, Google+ has distinct differences which make it unique, and any content you post should follow suit. The purpose of the brand page isn’t to sell your product or service (at least not directly); the spirit behind the platform is to connect with your customers on a personal level. The best way to do this is through unique, interesting content – not parroting what can easily be found on your website or on a different social network.
Who’s doing this: William Sonoma has a clear understanding of the spirit of the brand page. Instead of focusing specifically on its products, they provide subscribers with useful dining and entertaining ideas as well as stories and daily recipes. Using this approach, even with Google+ pages in their infancy, William Sonoma has amassed over 84,000 followers.
3. Effectively Utilizing the “Circle” Tool
Perhaps Google+’s most distinguishing feature is the ability to categorize followers into Circles. Although diehard Facebook fans would say this is merely a means of creating multiple versions of yourself, Google feels it makes it easier to personalize messages to like-minded groups of people. Business can categorize their followers into circles based on location, gender, age, whether they’re customers or employees, or virtually any other type of differentiation; then, tailor a message specific to each circle.
Another benefit is that Circle members only receive relevant content and won’t have to filter out information targeted at some other demographic. This encourages sharing, feedback, and the establishment of a micro-community within the overall follower base.
With the addition of Ripple, users can even track how their content is shared through the web. This information is invaluable to brands as they are able to pinpoint who is most engaged in their page and to whom they are passing along the information. With this knowledge, businesses can have greater insight into where they are succeeding and where they need to focus on more meaningful connections.
Who’s doing this: ThinkGeek is still growing, but it has a rather large cult following. This company knows exactly who its subscribers are and what they want. Its page connects users with one-of-a kind ,geek-related products, photos, and more. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, ThinkGeek has focused on one niche and is proving that share rate increases dramatically when content is appealing.