Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Brands Should (And Should Not) Be Using Google Plus: Do's And Dont's

I came across the following short, but sweet rant on Google+ last week about brands using the network ineffectively:

Obviously, there are brands that just plain suck at social media. They put no money into it. They put no effort into it. They don't understand how it can improve their bottom line. Their loss. But, I understood exactly what +Dustin W. Stout was referring to here because there are brands, large and small, that I know have the ability to do social well. But, they are failing on Google+ mostly due to laziness.

There are more advantages to leveraging the Google+ platform (and all of its connected services) for business than I can get into in one post. But, there are a few very simple things you can do starting today to make your brand more attractive to Google+ users, and those finding your posts through Google Search.

Google+ Do's

  • Do Build Your circles - I'm not sure how many brands follow this guideline because we can't see one another's circle set-ups. But, by using public posts to ask followers something about themselves or what they'd like to see from your brand, you can segment customers to share specific content. For example, you may want to give them details on a specific product, location, or event. To be clear, anything shared with specific circles is not publicly viewable or searchable. But, your goal here should be to truly engage with the customers in this circle. You may even send them an email notification of the post assuming they have opted-in to receive these.
  • Do Use Hangouts - The ability to have direct face-to-face interaction with your customers cannot be overstated. You can use these privately to address specific customer service issues, or publicly (HOA with live stream and YouTube upload) to educate on your goods and services. The possibilities for using Hangouts are vast. Start internally with your own team and experiment. 
  • Do Be Present and Make an Effort - If you want engagement then you have to engage. Fill out your page profile as completely as possible. Post regularly and often. If someone leaves a comment or shares your post, acknowledge them. Be human and interact as your page. Allow your team to use their profiles to speak for your brand as well. This is what brings a brand to life on social media.  

Google+ Don'ts

  • Don't Make it About You All The Time - Not everything has to be specifically about your brand for you to share it on your page. Google+ users want good content, and they'll interact with a brand if they provide it. Be a curator of valuable things related to your brand. Just posting a link to something you have for sale everyday is not going to bring in the results you desire. Be curious. Be creative. Be helpful. 
  • Don't Auto-Post - This goes along with "being present" in the 'Do's' section. But, if you're posting for Twitter, leave it on Twitter. There's nothing more annoying than seeing a post from a brand with a bunch of '@' mentions that link to nothing since Google+ uses '+' to mention people. You're not fooling anyone. It's clear that you posted this for Twitter and are regurgitating it for all of your other networks in a lazy way. Don't be lazy.  
  • Don't Recycle Garbage Tactics - These posts - "Fill in the blank", "What's your favorite thing about Friday?", "Guess the image", "Share/+1 if...", "Caption this photo", etc. - are all garbage. It makes your audience feel dumb. Yes, some people may follow your dumb instructions. But, it's not making them remember you. They're just bored. Spend your energy offering value instead, and you'll be on your way to leaving a positive impression and doing more business. 

For more help on using Google+ effectively, send me a message, check out the page/community +Plus Your Business!, and/or read through the following list of brand case studies provided by +Denis Labelle: