I’m a social media marketer and I hate Google+. More accurately, it’s not my “thing,” or rather, it’s not my expertise. It’s a social platform that I’ve barely even regarded as such, as evidenced by my almost forgetting to include it on a recent audit I performed for a potential client. But I’m not the only one. If not reviled, it’s generally understood that it’s simply not that intuitive. Many users and marketers alike seem to either regurgitate content for Google+ from other platforms, or pray that the platform will just give up and die.
So, you get it. I’m not a fan of Google+ and I’ve been resistant to adding it to my toolbox because it just plain doesn’t appeal to me. But guess what – that’s not an option! As a content marketer, it’s your job to be flexible and proficient using all social platforms, not just the ones you like (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter — even Facebook is still fun for me).
But, before I go into some Google+ basics, you should know that there have been some…
Recent Developments That Deemphasize Google+’s Influence
It seems that for the past year or more, Google+ developers and executives have been assuring us that “Google+ isn’t dead” (despite the recent news coverage pictured above). However, recent developments that pare down the platform’s presence and features haven’t done much to discourage that notion:
1) At last week’s Google I/O, it was announced that Google Photos, which had previously been a feature of Google+, would be relaunched as a standalone product. TechCrunch reports, “Users can now backup up full-resolution photos and videos – up to 16MP for photos and 1080p for videos – to Google’s cloud for free.”
2) Just yesterday, it was announced that Google would cut back on their heavy promotion of Google+ on other Google products. That means no more hyperlinks to Google+ on Gmail, YouTube, and the main search page for logged-in users (Marketing Land).
Given the Developments Above, Why Should You Stay on Google+?
Regardless of the recent developments listed above, I’ve done my due diligence and found that Google+ doesn’t suck entirely. Admittedly, I do still see it as a bland vitamin amid a spread of delicious, vibrant food, but there are ways to ensure that you’re properly navigating and leveraging the Google+ platform, instead of bumbling around aimlessly, as I often felt I was doing early on. To carry out the vitamin metaphor, there is a way to fortify your marketing efforts by swallowing the Google+ pill.
The platform still bears valuable advantages, which are undoubtedly a plus to your business’s online presence, the most important of which is:
- Your posts are indexed by Google. This is a great asset to search ranking, especially if your website isn’t ranking well (yet!). It goes without saying that websites on the first page of search results enjoy a great amount of clicks. 54.8% more clicks to be exact.
To further increase your chances of ranking:
- Ask your customers to review your business or give you a +1. These each assist in your page ranking.
- Engage with the content produced by influential people in your circles or industry. As with all social media, reciprocity is key. Give a +1 or comment on a post to increase the chance that they’ll not only discover your page and all the wonderful content on it, but also comment back and follow.
Low Hanging Fruit: Getting Started and Getting People to Your G+ Page
Time for some basic tips for setting up and maintaining an active presence on Google+. Just to temper your expectations, Google+ pages aren’t necessarily going to be a mecca for engagement the way your Facebook page may be. You may have noticed that your views are through the roof and your followers are in the single digits. This is because people often visit your page for basics like contact information and directions. This is what a large percentage of visitors will want out of your Google+ page, so make sure your business info is all up to date.
Add the Google+ Badge to Your Website
Just like you have the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram icons on your homepage, you should have a Google+ badge. Check us out – look how easy it is to see Creative California is on Google+! This is such a simple way to drive followers to your page who are already interested in your business. Additionally, add a “follow” button to secondary pages like “about” pages or “+1” to any page on your website. The latter allows people to show appreciation for any piece of content you may have on your website. A good content fit for this would be your company blog posts.
Too Legit to Quit: Make it Look Professional
Like with any platform, it’s important to make your business page look legitimate and professional. This means optimizing the static visuals for the platform’s image size standards. Make sure you use logos and images consistent with your branding, and size them properly. We use gold old fashioned Photoshop, but Canva has some great templates for G+ cover photos, plus many more social media headers.
G+ Cover image: 2120 x 1192
Profile picture: 500 x 500
Much like Facebook and Twitter, your cover photo should be a nice, crisp, high quality image that showcases your business’s personality and complements your profile picture, which should feature your logo.
For a visual size guide, use this simple template.
Graduate to Some Higher-Hanging Fruit (Apricots?)
Posts on your Google+ profile should strike the balance between educating (tips, trivia, tricks) and entertaining your audience. Keep your posts consistent and on-topic so your audience can easily digest and interact with your content.
- Try unexpected forms of content, like GIFs, to deliver a message within just a few seconds. Also, GIFs are usually funny, cute, or just entertaining. Make your own in a jif (get it?) with free online GIF generators
- Encourage discovery by using hashtags, utilizing the network’s auto generation of related hashtags
- Join communities! This is an important method for engagement and discovery on Google+ that often gets overlooked. Communities contain users interested in a niche field or interest, and are the perfect place to find your target market. Share your posts to relevant communities in addition to posting to your profile. Below are a few communities with which Creative California regularly engages.
- Here’s something Google+ has that no other platform has, and it’s made the English major in me very happy. You can format the text to display bold, italic, or even a strikethrough. Using these nifty text tools can make your message stand out and reflect your intended tone.
Learn to Put Up With It, Or Maybe Even Love It
While I’m not a complete convert, it is important to give the platform some weight in our clients’ marketing strategies. Take a look at your content on the other platforms you manage and identify ways to apply successful content to Google+ using the strategies above.
Although Google itself has de-prioritized its network, the recent developments its made demonstrates that Google+ team is making an effort to make moves that will hopefully improve the functionality rather than simply forcing itself on the public.