Google Plus recently pipped Twitter and YouTube to the title of the second most active social network, after Facebook. That may sound like a surprise, especially if you are not aware that the network currently boosts a 500 million strong membership, with close to 350 million actively +1′ing, posting and recommending content. Having said that, there’s no way then your business could still be ignoring the immense benefits of running an active presence on Google Plus.
It seems Google’s ultimate goal is to connect all of your experiences on their giant network of products, including Gmail, Google+, Google Doc, GChat, Gcal, Google Local, Google Search and YouTube. But if you still aren’t yielding to the pressure to jump on this unique social networking bandwagon, let’s take a real stab now at the top 5 reasons why your brand needs Google Plus.
#1: Enhanced brand discovery on Google Search
Google’s “+1″ votes are like Facebook “likes” – part of what are now known as social signals. And the Google search engine isn’t shy to favor pages that have more social signals. That makes sense to a great extent, because in essence, content that is shared, liked, tweeted of +1′d by more people has got to be great in the first place. So you need to let Google know that the content you’re sharing is being enjoyed and shared by your readers.
There’s more: the new Google Search results pages now allow people to start following your brand right form the within the search pages. That makes it easier for you to garner a following and grow your brand. If you try a Google search on several well-known businesses, this is what you’ll see (if you are logged in to your Google+ account):
Their recent posts on Google+
Information on the brand
Whether any of your friends recommends the business (through +1′s)
A ‘verified’ check if the business is verified
Having a Google Plus page linked to your blog or business website helps your content get indexed faster and easily discoverable on the SERPs, so your SEO would simply suffer if you have no presence there.
#2: The SEO benefits of Google Authorship
Google Authorship is another way that Google is enticing you to get on Google+. It’s basically linking your Plus profile to your content, so that Google can authenticate you as the original source of the content you post. This creates trust between you and Google, and your readers as well.
Now, the following are the SEO benefits you should expect when you want to make a blog and implement Google Authorship for your content:
Your Google Plus page gets more exposure – and more followers
Your content on the SERPs stands out from the rest and ranks higher than syndicated and duplicate content
The profile picture appearing next to your search result adds a human touch, improving the click-through rates
Your exposure can dramatically improve in personalized search results.
#3 A: Better engagement – Google + Hangouts
Google Plus Hangouts are a unique feature of the social network and they might just get businesses hooked. With Hangouts, you can broadcast live events, chat on video with your customers, share documents, host virtual conferences and even host other interviews. With a little creativity, there are a myriad of things you can do with Hangouts.
Brands today are using Hangouts to grow their reputation by sharing their expert opinion, teaching industry concepts and connecting with other industry experts. A really good way to enhance engagement almost to a personal level and win customer loyalty is by hosting live Q&A sessions with your followers, where you get to provide answers or solutions to their most pressing questions.
#3 B: Better engagement – Google + Communities
Engagement on Google+ doesn’t stop with Hangouts; you can build a community for fans to share their experiences on a common interest. Be it food, art, movies, Internet marketing, or sky diving, as long as it is tailored to the nature of your business, you can drive participation in a community page that you create with your Google Plus profile. This offers a great opportunity for your brand to listen to what your potential customers are saying.
Check out how you can get started with Google+ communities here.
#4: Google+ Events
It’s now much easier to connect with your entire audience, thanks to Events. You can send out invitations to your webinars, meetings, parties and Google+ Hangouts to anyone including those who are not on Google Plus. Isn’t it safe to assume that Google+ Events is doing a better job at increasing awareness for your events than the Facebook Events feature?
There are more features too, such as “Party Mode” which lets all those in attendance upload photos of the event in a shared album, through their Google+ mobile app. Afterwards you all get to view all these photos as a slideshow, arranged chronologically, which should make for a really exciting experience.
#5: Building your brand through live YouTube streaming
Using Google+, you can now broadcast live on YouTube – and all you need is a webcam. Yes, free video streaming on the web has been around for some time now, but YouTube is the largest video social network and it makes everything so much easier for your brand to accomplish this. Remember that the stream won’t be limited to just computers, but smartphones and TV sets that have that capability to stream internet video, so your potential reach is quite high.
Google has taken great pains to lay down this entire infrastructure, so why not take advantage of it now?
To start using this feature, you need to login first to your Google+ account and start a “Hangout on Air”. You’ll then be streaming live both on Google+ and YouTube. Click here to view the entire process of setting up a live broadcast on YouTube.
Your entire video will be encoded and archived at the end of the broadcast, allowing you the privilege of building a library of videos on the Go. Later, you can optimize these videos for search engines by adding or editing the title, descriptions and tags. And you may even choose to delete the video if you don’t like it. What more could you ask for in this feature?