Join me on Google +
**Update** Google Plus has officially released brand pages. Head over to this guide on how to create a Google Plus brand page and create a presence for your business!
During the early weeks of the launch of Google Plus, I told you that businesses didn’t have to worry about having a presence there just yet.
From a branding stand point, that’s still true. Google has not yet offered official brand pages and any brands who try to start a profile are usually booted pretty quickly for breaking Terms of Service. But because this is the fastest growing social network to date, hitting 20 million users in July, it is definitely a platform that businesses should get familiar with and start thinking about how it can be incorporated into their marketing strategy.
Here are a few ways you can do some research on Google Plus so that you’re prepared to be one of the early-adopting businesses:
Get to know the atmosphere with a personal account
So you can’t be a business on Google Plus? You can definitely be a person! And the person that you are is definitely a representative of a fantastic brand. So open a personal account and start letting people know who you are and what you do. Get to know the platform. Get to know what content gets the most attention (see Bonus below). Do all the things you should be doing to grow your business’ reach, even if under your own personal name. You will build relationships with people who will then be interested in finding out more about you on other networks (including your site) as well as become a fan on your Google Plus business page whenever it’s rolled out.
Search for niche phrases in the “Find People” box to connect with your target audience
Whether you’re searching geographically, characteristically, or just for keywords of people you want to find, the search box will help you find people to “circle“. Start to connect with people you don’t know and find out how you can help them. Circle industry leaders and see what they’re talking about that will help you get an edge. The best way to use Google Plus is to meet people and build relationships, so find those people and start connecting.
Give people an idea of who you are and what you do
Since this is your personal Google Plus profile, you want people to know who the personality is behind the brand. Talking about your business is all fine and good, but when you give people a way to connect with you directly, it’s an even more effective form of marketing. But don’t forget to list your website in your profile. Once people develop a relationship, they are likely to want to check out your work.
Join in on conversations and hangouts
One thing to note about this social network is that anytime you see a conversation or a hangout happening, you have already been approved to join in on the fun. That’s because when people post, they have to choose what circles can see their updates. So next time you see a question that needs answered or a group of people video chatting, jump in! It’s the best way to really grow those relationships you’re looking for.
Check the “Incoming” feed
This particular part of the News Stream is of people who are not in your circles, but have circled you. Checking on these posts will be useful if you don’t want to start circling just anyone that circles you but still want to see how you can get to know those who are already interested in you. Again, look for conversations to contribute to and let people know how you (and your business can help them)
Bonus: Spend more time asking and starting conversations than sharing content
I’m starting to realize on my own personal profile that even though sharing content with my circles is effective, people are more receptive to offering “+1″s and comments when I ask a question, start a conversation, or post a picture. I feel more connected to people in those situations. I’m not saying don’t post a link to your latest blog post, because I definitely do that and it does incur some traffic. But Google Plus is more of a place for conversations and less of a preferred news portal. And I think that’s because people like the network so much, they don’t want to leave. So spend more time starting conversations than sharing content and see how many more relationships you can build.