By now, you really should have a social media strategy for your business, organisation, or brand – but if you don’t, it's never too late to start. And while the focus is generally on Facebook and Twitter presence when it comes to social media, if you ignore Google+ – and the facility to create a dedicated page, much like Facebook – you do so at your peril.
Google+ Pages are not just for businesses, but all kinds of organisations and public figures, from community-focused groups and non-profit institutions, to politicians and candidates, to celebrities, bloggers, sports teams, and social causes.
Whether you're rolling out the next arm of your social media strategy, or developing a new one from scratch, Google+ should be on your radar. Here's everything you need to know about Google+, from creating a page to making it work for you right from the off.
How to create a Google+ Page
Before you can create a Google+ Page, you'll need a few things to hand, the first being a Google account. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account. If you need to set one up, it only takes a minute and it's free.
Before you begin making your Google+ Page, it would also be a good idea to compile a list of friends, business partners, clients, customers, or supporters to add to Circles. You should also source some images – five should do for starters – to get some relevant visual content up on your page right away. Finally, sketch out some ideas for your first posts, too.
As for actually setting up the Google+ Page, it’s a very simple and quick process. Here’s what you do…
1. Log into your Google account.
3. Pick the appropriate category from the list that best describes what your Google+ Page will represent:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organisation
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
4. Next, you’ll have to choose a name for the page, and you can list an external website, should you have one (and hopefully, you will)!
Now Google will congratulate you on making your new page, and then offer you the chance to “Get Started”– in other words, it will lead you through some basic pointers as to what you should do first.
The basic pointers you’re advised to tackle initially amount to filling out your profile with the following steps:
- Add a profile picture
- Add a cover photo
- Add contact information
- Add your website (you may have already linked this during page creation)
- Add an introduction to your page
- Add a tagline (of 10 words or less)
You’re also encouraged to review your notification settings (the bell icon on the top menu). Here you can choose who can interact with you and comment on your public posts, and specify things like how you’d like notifications to be delivered.
Finally, Google+ reminds you that you can click your profile photo to switch between your page and your personal profile. When you’re on your page, all the posts you make will be for the page (obviously enough) – not your own profile, and vice versa.
There are a number of other things you should add to your freshly created page, too. Namely…
Circle members: Without them, no one will know your page exists or see its content.
Images: At least five to start with, and these should show off the most important aspects of your organisation or cause.
A Google+ Direct Connect link: This gives your page visibility if people search for your Page's name with a "+" sign at the start – although the link is not available to every user at present, only selected ones (see this page for more details).
Contact information: To whom should your audience go if they have questions or want to get in touch for opportunities?
At least ten posts: These should include original thoughts and commentary, links to information about your work or cause, and a selection of related material; post continuously no less than once a week. These posts will fill out your page so it doesn't appear empty when the first few users land on it.
While it's extremely easy to set up a Google+ Page, and not much more difficult to add some interesting content, what you really need to make your Google+ Page successful is a clear understanding of its purpose and how it fits into your social media strategy.
Think differently about your Google+ page
A Google+ Page is not the same as, or meant to replace, your website, blog, Twitter account, or your presence on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other site. Part of developing a social media strategy is understanding how and why these various social spaces are different, and then playing to their strengths.
To leverage Google+ in any useful way, consider how it differs from the other online representations your organisation or brand has.
For starters – and this will vary by organisation – look at the different community demographics of the various platforms you use to reach your audience. The conversations and posts you put on LinkedIn may not be the same as the ones you post to Twitter, depending on who is following your business or brand on those two online networks. Plus, the information you deliver via those different platforms will vary based on how you want people to interact with it. Twitter users tend to have conversations with immediacy, in near real time, whereas Facebook discussions tend to take place over a day or two, with threaded comments in one easy to read place for further reflection and analysis (which Google+ also has).
Two of the strongest features of Google+ are Hangouts, or live video chats with small groups of people, and Circles, which in business terms is nothing more than the ability to have detailed audience segmentation. The latter lets you group people into clusters based on whatever categorical structures you want, and can be an especially effective tool for smaller businesses and brands. For example, SMBs can group contacts in Circles called "business partners," "potential clients," and "existing clients," and message them differently. It’s perhaps less useful for very large organisations that don't necessarily know their constituents by name.
Creating a Google+ Page doesn't take much doing, but creating a good one that people will explore takes a little more effort than the bare minimum that Google requires. As we discussed earlier in this article, it's worth putting a little time in upfront to make sure you have all the major components in place before launching the page – because once the site is registered, it's live immediately. Good luck with your page!