By Gillian Cook
The recent integration of social and search at Google marks a huge change in how information on the internet will be presented to us. When a logged in user now performs a search, they will be given two types of search results: the anonymous search results that we are all used to and personal search results, which are generated from information shared within that user’s network of Google+ circles. This new platform presents a major marketing opportunity for brands and it requires a developed strategy just like other social media platforms. It would be daft for brands to consider Google+ as just another fad, and, in the same breadth that brands define strategies for Facebook and Twitter, the same now needs to be done for Google+.
While it is apparent that Google+ is not yet fully developed, it would appear a good time for brands to set up their Google+ page, start uploading regular content and playing about with the different features on Google+. What should you as a brand be doing now?
1. Grow Your Circles
As we have seen, Google are placing more emphasis on people. People are going to share your content; they are your audience, so make sure they are interested in your market offering and develop trust with them. What can be done to grow circles? First and most importantly, the Google+1 button must be displayed on your site. This not only helps build contacts, it helps verify your site to your page. Ask employees and partners of the organisation to share the page within their circles. In the same way a brand would develop Twitter and Facebook campaigns, the same should be done on Google+. This could include giveaways, deals, offers – anything that is exclusive to Google+ will help you gain more followers. People’s pages at the moment have a higher weighting than brand pages. People need to add a page before the page can add them, so if a celebrity like Lady Gaga was to pick up your page, it could essentially drive a lot of people to your page. There is also a What’s Hot feature on Google+, so featuring on this would also increase the visibility of your page.
2. Segment Their Audience
Like in Google+ for personal pages, you can divide up your contacts into ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘colleagues’ etc, the same can be done with your Google+ Page contacts. At the moment, a Google+ page’s circles are defined as ‘following’, ‘customers’, ‘VIPs’, and ‘team members’. This is a good place to start, and more circles can be added to further segment your audience. This provides brands with a wonderful marketing opportunity where they can target each segment with unique and specific messages. This is important, as it allows brands to develop trust with their audience… a key factor which will encourage users to share their content.
3.Develop A Content Strategy
Content creation will become more important for brands than ever before. A content strategy should take into consideration the latest Google algorithm updates, including Panda, which favours unique content that is relevant and fresh. A regular flow of high quality content will raise your brand awareness and potentially drive traffic to your site through your Google+ page. However, the value of that content will drop if it is not ‘shareable’. Making content easy to share and to +1 will widen its reach across the internet, essentially helping that content appear in more personalised results. Having said that, creating shareable content is not always an easy task and brands will need to analyse their content and adapt it. ‘Ripples’ is a feature that will allow them to do so. It provides visual information on how content has rippled through the web. This insight could be invaluable to brands, as they are able to see who is sharing their content.
Now that Google+ allows multiple managers to log into a brand’s Google+ page, there is even more incentive for a brand to use this platform. Excluding the owner, a page can have up to 50 managers who can act on behalf of the organisation. While taking on another social platform may seem a lot of work, I believe that brands that implement and integrate their Google+ page well could really reap big rewards, not just in terms of brand awareness but also SEO. However, until the platform further develops, it will be hard to say exactly how SEO and Google+ pages will be intertwined. Google+ is about ‘connections, interactions and activity’ …people, essentially. Surely Google will reward in some way, brands that can prove they have quality, shareable content that has been publically approved (+1ed) by numerous people in their circles?