Three Ways to Use a Personal Google Plus Profile to Build Your Business

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Relationships used to be the way business was done. A handshake and a person’s reputation were all that was needed to seal a deal.

Social media has brought about the return of these values. A recent post by Jason Falls even declared that we can learn about social business from America’s small towns. In small towns everybody knows everybody’s business, everyone looks out for one another, trust is essential, and the way to grow is by helping others. The most effective social media marketing embraces these values. And just like in a small town, a reputation for trustworthiness and helpfulness online can build lifetime customer loyalty.

Getting Personal on Google+

While the personal trust principles mentioned above are applicable to any social media network, they can be especially powerful on Google+. Why? Let’s break it down using Jason Fall’s small town principles:

  • Everybody know everybody’s business. Google+ makes building and maintaining relationships easy. Using its powerful search you can find others talking about the topics your business interests cover. Its notifications let you know when people are talking to or about you. And circles allow you to find the right conversations at the right time. Kind of like being able to drop in to the corner bar one moment, the Chamber of Commerce meeting the next, and then hop right on over to the town square.
  • Everyone looks out for one another. Once people get into mutual circles on Google+, the community bonds get tight quickly. Have a question or need help with a project? You’re sure to find someone willing to help. And if you show yourself to be a helpful resource, people will recommend you, share your posts, and include you in shared circles that gain you new followers.
  • Trust is essential. A lot of network building goes on in Google+, due to the ease of recommending someone (just type + and a person’s name, and their name becomes a link to their profile, and people can add them to their circles with one click). So being trustworthy is crucial. People who recommend you are putting their own reputation on the line. Consistently recommending trustworthy people to your followers builds your bank account of trust as well.
  • Helping others is the way to grow your own following. Nothing gets people recommended to others or placed in a shared circle on Google+ faster than a reputation for helpfulness. The ease of sharing on Google+, and the huge reach that such sharing can have, makes such a reputation “viral.”

It’s true that all of the above can be (and should be!) done via a Google+ brand page. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve done all the basics to make your brand page accessible and welcoming to visitors. But you can hyper-extend the power of your small town business approach with an influential personal profile.

Why Should You Have a Business-Oriented Google+ Personal Profile?

If you’ve been following our recommendations here on Windmill Networking, you’ve created a Google+ brand page and you’re actively using it. You’ve even gone a step further and optimized your brand page for Google and Google+ search so you’ll be found. So why do you need to make use of a personal profile as well? A Google+ personal profile gives you the following “edges” in your marketing efforts:

  • Personal profiles can circle anyone. Brand pages can’t (until a person has first circled them). Following others by adding them to your circles is one of the quickest ways to gain a following for yourself.
  • Personal profiles are welcomed more easily than brands. Nobody invites a “brand” into their living room; people want to know people. And if a person is friendly and engaging and helpful, and it turns out that person is connected to a brand, people are more likely to transfer their warm and fuzzy feelings to that brand.
  • Personal profiles can spend more time being “personal.” While brand pages certainly should try to be “human” (posting and sharing more than just sales pitches), personal profiles have less pressure on them to “get the message out.” So when “the message” is shared, it seems more natural and is accepted more easily.
I’m already proving building an influential Google+ personal profile can be an effective brand-building tool. My agency’s page (Virante Search Marketing) now has over 1200 followers on Google+. We’re no H&M Fashions (over half a million followers), but it’s enough to make us the third highest ranking brand page for “search marketing” in a non-logged-in G+ search. We’re the highest ranked actual business for that term (numbers 1 and 2 both represent blogs). It’s hard to tell without analytics (which Google+ says are still “coming soon”), but I’m convinced that a large part of that following has come from my increasingly influential personal profile, which is clearly linked to my agency brand.

How to Use a Personal Profile to Build Your Brand Page

Before I get into the practical tips, one caveat. While I’m hoping to help you build a following for your Google+ brand page, that shouldn’t be your number one concern. To paraphrase the brilliant Internet marketing trainer Corey Creed: “Brand pages don’t have wallets, people do.” (He says this about search engines, but I think it applies equally well to social media business pages.) As long as you’re building credibility for your company, don’t sweat too much where it’s happening, whether on your site, your brand page, or your personal profile.

With that in mind, here are my top tips for using your personal profile to build your company’s branding and Google+ brand page.

1. Make your brand affiliation clear on your profile’s “About” tab.

Do more than just have your brand in the employment section. The Introduction section of your About tab is a natural place to talk about your business and what it does. It also acts as a search keyword in Google+’s internal search, so as your profile gains influence, it becomes one more way for your brand to be found online. But more importantly, as people come to know and like you on Google+, they will come to associate your company (favorably) with you.

2. Post about your brand’s topics, but not always about your brand.

Your objective here is to establish yourself as a credible authority in the areas your brand touches on. Remember that more people are going to end up being interested in your business because of you than from any hard selling you do. So if your brand is a travel broker, in your personal postings talk about travel, give travel tips, share web content and other Google+ posts that are about travel (but not necessarily your company). Help people who are talking about taking a trip.

3. Share links to your brand, but do it naturally.

In his great book about Google+ (What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us), Guy Kawasaki says that he keeps his self-promotion posts to under 5%. I wouldn’t want to make any percentage an absolute rule, but I would definitely advise keeping your business-promoting posts few compared to your other posts. There’s always a fine line between naturally sharing what you’re about and spamming.

But I think you can post more brand links than Kawasaki’s 5% if you’re sharing them more organically. For example, share a link to a helpful blog post on your company’s blog as part of a post about a larger topic. Our hypothetical travel broker might write a Google+ post about a great trip to Tahiti she just got back from, and in it drop a link to her agency’s post about “best exotic travel locations” as part of the discussion. Also don’t be shy about sharing a link to your company’s resources in a comment thread if the resource would be truly helpful to someone in the discussion.

4. Create and share a shared circle that includes your brand page. Find some great people and pages on Google+ who aren’t competitors but who share things related to your brand’s topics. Put them in a circle and from time to time share that circle in a post, explaining why it’s a valuable follow. Your followers can add the circle to their circles with one easy click. Now here’s the “trick”: include your brand page in the shared circle. Only do it if your brand page truly relates to the topic of your shared circle. (To share a circle in a post, on your circles tab click the circle, then click the shared circle icon that appears where the circle was.)

Have you explored the power of using your personal branding to build your brand’s presence in social media, and on Google+ in particular? If so, what has worked for you? How well do you think you do in maintaining the balance between being a real person and promotion?

About the Author:

Mark Traphagen

This monthly Google Plus column is contributed by Mark Traphagen. Mark is Director of Social Media Marketing for Virante. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web. +Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen
This monthly Google Plus column is contributed by Mark Traphagen. Mark is Director of Social Media Marketing for Virante. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web. +Mark Traphagen
Mark Traphagen
PeopleLinx

Comments

  1. Ronnie Bincer says

    +Mark Traphagen, I like your tip about eventually passing along a ‘shared circle’ which includes your personal profile & your business page. Nice way to help ‘connect the two’ and to help get people to the ‘Page’… which seems to be a challenge on Google+ right now.

    I know Mark, and can truly vouch for how he is helping his company’s Brand ‘Page’ by building his Personal ‘Profile’ as his primary effort on Google+… it is working well for him. And now it is really helping his company’s Page… but it did take a while. No quick fix, this.

  2. says

    LOVE that Corey Creed line, will SO be using it someday.  I like tip 4 and have to think about how to use a ‘share circle’ – it’s a different concept, but reminds me of a FF or list suggestion. In fact Mark, I like and agree with all of these suggestions and would like to see some clients get some SEO-lovey brand pages going. I do a lot of this on Google+ – just not with nearly enough regularity; I’ve been over-thinking it, trying to carefully select what should go there, not just copy/paste my other profiles. I’m slowly starting to see and circle more brands; and be less stingy w/ a G+. As with anything worth doing, worth having – it’s about the work; you get back what you put in.

    Google+ does have a ‘small town’ feel for a simple and obvious reason – G+ is right now a ‘small’ town of 90+ million. There’s less ‘noise’ on Google+ so when I am looking at my stream (which I wish I could broaden via columns or a wider dashboard), things there do have more a chance to catch my eye. It’s the way Twitter used to be, or so I’ve been told; people chatting about what interests them, in real time. No programming, no automation, no scheduling it for optimal sharing value; less fear of ‘is this going to get me hired/fired?’ and more open conversation. If and when the API opens, I really think that’ll change. Hard to pin down its stats; from what I read G+ is mostly male, mostly professionals and plenty of inactive accounts – (though at least not sock puppets, anonymous trolls and spam bots like Twitter). My searching probably leaves a lot to be desired, so I find I run into the ‘same’ people I know via Twitter and LI – makes sense, social birds flocking together – sharing more or less the same blog posts and media stories they are elsewhere. 

    Saw a G+ commercial the other night; Android camera-phone owning new dad lost his phone and so he thought, pictures. Google+ saved the day, automatically syncing them for him. Is that the typical user? I am curious: how many G+ users don’t use other networks; for whom is it their primary network; is it for business or personal or a mix of both; who’s really making it work for their business? Don’t misunderstand me: I really, really like some features of G+ and should use it more; alas like making the time to read this post, I haven’t mastered some cloning process to make 4 of me and still want the ‘me’ time of watching Vampire Diaries or Game of Thrones. I’ve made connections and seen returns from my social activity; my goal is to get more. Is G+ going to push me to that next level? Only time – and more work on my part – will tell. FWIW.

  3. says

    There are two areas that can be edited: Employer Name and Job Title. Both have substantial effects in Google+ as well as in the search engines.The Job Title line is also important must display site links.

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