Although Google Plus launched in June of 2011, it didn’t really pick up much steam until 2013. I found most people thought it was just a Facebook wannabe, but I’m here to tell you it’s so much more. In fact, right now I believe it’s the most important social network for most businesses and should be a focus for 2014.
It’s an essential tool for businesses when it comes to local search and it also has several features that allow business owners to connect with and learn more about their customers in unique ways.
Here’s a handful of Google Plus features I find particularly useful for business:
Google Plus Hangouts
These are essentially free video conferences that anyone with a Google Plus account can use. You can talk, chat, and screen share with up to 10 people at once. With Hangouts on Air you can livestream to an unlimited amount of people. You will also be able to go back to look at previous hangouts in case you missed something important.
Here are some ways to use Google Hangouts for your business:
- Save travel time by holding client meetings via hangout.
- Make client presentations.
- Join hangouts from industry experts for team trainings.
- Sit in on hangouts hosted by your competition to see what they’re up to. You don’t want to copy what they’re doing, but staying informed is always a good idea.
- Host a regular Q and A session to answer questions from customers or fans.
Google Plus Communities
So you’re in the real estate business and you’re ready to talk about real estate stuff? There are Google Plus communities for that. Or maybe you’re in the food service industry. Guess what? There are communities for that. There are dozens of communities for nearly any industry or topic you can think and getting involved in a few can help your business out.
Here are some ways to use Google Communities for your business:
- Create a public community specifically for your customers. This will be a place for questions, ideas, and recommendations.
- Create a private community to share ideas with internal staff.
- Get involved in industry specific communities to learn from others.
- If you’re a small local business, join city-specific communities to get in touch with those in your area. Chances are they are potential customers or referral sources.
Google Plus Local Listings
If you are a local business that needs to be found when searched on Google, then you need to claim your local listing. Google Plus Local allows you to claim and verify your business page as a physical location so you can start seeing the benefits with local search.
Here are just a few of the benefits of Google Plus Local:
- When a local business is claimed and verified it shows up in the map section within Google search.
- Once claimed, a local page has the opportunity to respond to customer reviews.
- A Google Plus Local page also has the opportunity to write reviews for vendors, suppliers, and other businesses they interact with. Here’s an article on Barnacle Reviews on Google Plus Local that explains why this is important.
- After you have claimed your local business with Google Plus you’ll unlock analytics like keyword searches, driving direction data, and profile visits.
Have you used Google Plus for your business? What has your experience been like? Let me know if you have questions about how to get started or how to maximize its benefits.