As the relationship between search engine optimization (SEO) and social media continues to merge, it becomes even more important to stay up-to-date with new opportunities for increasing your brand awareness and connecting with your customers.
If you are already active on Facebook and Twitter, you may be asking yourself why you should bother with the recent release of Google+ for business? And this is a valid question: It can take a lot of time to manage each social media channel. But Google+ brings a couple of new opportunities for small businesses which should be considered:
- Google+ has a smaller user base. While on the surface this may seem negative, with fewer users, comes less noise, giving your own messages more space to be noticed.
- Content is primarily professional and informational. Whereas Facebook is a mix of industry updates and personal messages and happy birthdays, Google+ is, at the moment, focussed on sharing more factual information. This may make it easier for businesses to create a more personal relationship with their customers.
- Potential to integrate with Google Places, Maps, YouTube and Image Search. Google continues to integrate its products and with the addition of Google +1’s into the Image Search. If, for example, you are a photographer and you are posting a lot of images on your Google+ business page this could be beneficial as your content will increase your visibility in search.
The choice of which social media channel you use to communicate with your customers ultimately depends on the habits of your target market and the amount of time you are able to give to use these social media tools to their full potential.
How to Set Up a Google+ Page for your Business
Think Google+ is for you? Setting up a page couldn’t be easier. Simply follow the 6 steps below and start growing your circles.
1. Create or Sign In to your Google Account
Once you have signed into your Google Account, visit http://www.google.com/+/business/ and click ‘Create your Google+ Page’.
2. Select a Category
The next step is to select a category for your business. You can choose from:
- Local Business or Place – recommended for hotels, restaurants, places, shops or services
- Product or Brand – recommended for clothes, vehicles, electronics or financial services
- Company, Institution or Organization – recommended for companies, organizations, institutions or non-profits
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports – recommended for Films, TV, music, books, sports and shows
- Other – recommended if you don’t fit anywhere else!
3. Add Your Info
If you choose Local Business or Place you will be asked to enter your phone number to locate your business. This assumes that your business is already listed in Google Places.
If you choose any of the other categories you will be asked for your website address and an additional sub category to identify your industry. Sub categories include: Antiques and Collectibles, Arts & Education, Fashion & Beauty, Media, Tools & Equipment, etc.
4. Tagline and Photo
Next you have a space to add a description of your business, in just 10 words. You can then upload an image or logo to your profile.
5. Get the Word Out
Google will then ask if you want to tell your personal network, or in Google speak ‘circle’, about the business page you have just set up. Remember this is to the personal network of the Google user, so if an employee has logged in on your behalf, or you have used your personal account – this is the network it will share the page with.
Yes it was that easy. You have now created your new Plus page and can set up a Google+ button for your own site. All you have to do now is start adding people to your circles and start posting and sharing.
Unfortunately Google has not introduced a vanity url yet, so your Google+ page URL will be of the form https://plus.google.com/106538168716417049445 so it may be best to use a url shortner like bit.ly to help spread the word of your new page. Until Google decides to introduce vanity url’s at least.