Establishing a business presence on Google Plus, however minor it might be, is seriously one of the biggest no-brainers in social media marketing. Some of you reading this might still not “get it,” so let me reflect upon two recent speaking engagements I did and the reactions in the room to help you understand why you might just want to let your IT folks run your Google Plus presence if your marketers still can’t figure Google Plus out.
Don’t Take It Personally
Social media for business is not a personal decision. Emotion needs to be removed from the equation as to which channels your company will operate on. Who cares if you prefer Facebook over Google Plus. Does it matter if your friends are on Google Plus or not? None of my friends are on Pinterest, or Twitter for that matter, but it doesn’t make them any less valuable. After all, are you trying to market to your friends – or potential ideal clients?
Data-Driven Social Media Marketing
The only way to decide what social networks you should be on is by the data. If you’re not on Google Plus yet, there are plenty of data points we can look at to hint at how it can be potentially beneficial:
- Google Plus Ranks as Being the Most Important Factor for SEO
- Google Plus has the Second Most Active Users of a Social Network
- How a Google Plus Presence Increases Organic Search Traffic
While each of the above data points raises some important questions, it should be enough data to have you give Google Plus more serious consideration than you might have. If you’re questioning data like this too much, ask yourself if you are being too skeptical because of your personal emotions or attractions to (or against) certain social networks. Your choice of social media channel should be based on the supporting data. Period. And if you don’t have any data, it’s time for some social media experimentation, isn’t it?
Turn the Clock Back – and Search
Remember when everyone thought Twitter was just about people talking about their breakfast? How did you start out deriving value from tweets? One of the first things that you probably did was do searches for conversations that might be relevant or beneficial to your company. Have you done so on Google Plus yet? In fact, many social media marketers are stuck in “2011 Social Media,” a condition that lets marketers stay within their comfort zone of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and ignoring newer platforms. Try to remember those first moments you had with a social network that you use daily now. Apply that same curiosity to Google Plus and you are bound to find people, conversations, communities and businesses that are relevant to your mission.
It’s About the Layer, Stupid
You might not find nearly as many conversations on G+ when compared to Twitter depending on what you’re looking for. Actually, that doesn’t make Google Plus any less important. This leads to one of the biggest misunderstandings of Google Plus: It is both a community like other social networks as well as a layer.
As more and more Google products get integrated within Google Plus (most recently YouTube comments are the newest addition to The Layer), the layer aspect becomes more and more valuable to all businesses. You see, Google is in the business of serving up relevant and targeted search results (and advertising). It also wants to verify that every website and user has a verified profile attached to it. In this way, not only can it weed out all of the fake websites, users, and content spewed out by entities that were created for the sole purpose of duping Google, it can also serve you (and your customers) more relevant and timely information based on who you follow and what content you have already engaged with. The social layer is no whimsical experiment like we saw with Google Buzz or Google Wave: It is The Force that will allow Google to provide us all more Youtility.
Is Google Important to Your Business?
When I keynoted at the popular digital marketing conference iStrategy recently in San Diego, I asked everyone in the room if Google was important to their business. Pretty much everyone raised their hand, as you would expect. On the other hand, there were some laughs earlier on from the same audience when a previous speaker was asked about Google Plus. If Google is important to your business, so should Google Plus be. Period.
Google Plus Requires Some Coding
I haven’t talked about the IT folks yet, so let’s bring them into the equation. Last month I spoke at the Southland Technology Conference (SOTEC), a popular conference for IT professionals in Southern California. The title of my presentation was “Social Media for Information Technology in 2014: What You Need to Know” (I provide a summary of my talk in the embedded Maximize Your Social podcast episode at the end of this paragraph). I covered a few main themes where I thought IT professionals could play a more proactive role internally at their respective companies vis a vis social media. One of them was Google Plus. In some enterprises I know, SEO is a technical task implemented by IT, not marketing. That could be one explanation as to why everybody in the room intrinsically understood the value that Google has to their business. Regardless, it was clear to everyone in the room that establishing a verified digital identity with Google through Google Plus and regularly feeding the Social Layer with company updates was a no-brainer. It should also be noted that there is some coding, albeit very simple code, that needs to be implemented on your website to make the verification work, another reason why IT is going to play a role with Google Plus implementation. Of course, implementing full-blown Google Authorship verification for your company’s content creators is another task best suited for your IT department. A very important disclaimer should be made here: Just being active on Google Plus does not necessarily improve your SEO (for those interested, Google Plus and SEO Expert Mark Traphagen has written the definitive post on Google Plus SEO ).
Google Authorship … Employee Advocacy … and Beyond!
In addition to establishing a presence on Google Plus, the concept of Google Authorship and Employee Advocacy is another reason why it is essential that your IT team play a role in your Google Plus presence. The reason is simple: Very few have truly implemented Google Authorship, despite the benefits that it can have for your thought leader employees – as well as your company in general. By verifying that the content of each of your blog authors belongs to them through Google Authorship, it opens up the potential for your company to start leveraging the Google Plus following that your content creators might already possess. It takes you one step closer to a true employee advocacy program where you give credit for the content that your employees create for you while at the same time leverage their social networks to help spread the message of your brand.
An Invisible Future for YOU, Not Me!
One of the most brilliant blog posts I ever read was sometime ago when Pete Cashmore of Mashable spoke of a future in which those that remain private face a lonely future in a social media world :
participate or fade into a lonely obscurity
I think the exact same notion applies to those companies that shun G+: Information coming from companies that are active on G+ is only going to increase, simply decreasing the visibility of your business in Google’s eyes. Your unverified digital presence in the eyes of Google will only lead to a lonely future: Invisible in Google search results. After I spoke at iStrategy, a number of people thanked me, both in the room as well as those online following the #istrategy hashtag, for explaining the benefits of having a Google Plus presence in plain English. The reaction from many G+ users was similar to that of early Twitter adopters a few years ago: Delight when someone was explaining how important and valuable that platform could be. That is not only the sign of an active and passionate early adopter community that exists on Google Plus, but also the fact that the road, however uncertain it might be, will reap benefits for your company in the long-term. My career in social media began back in early 2008 when I saw LinkedIn as a business tool rather than a personal social network. That perspective has helped me navigate through the noise that we see in the social media space and glean new insight. I don’t like to evangelize social networks and I don’t take them personally myself. I see them all as potential social business vehicles, and thus my objective in writing this post is purely to give you some insight that can help your business. Getting back to the title of this post, Google Plus is typical of a social business platform that will involve multiple departments within your company. So, if you’re still trying to figure Google Plus out, why not have someone in your IT department read this post? So what’s your excuse for your company staying away from Google Plus and not engaging at the same frequency you do other social networks now?