Considering that Google+ was in beta June 2010 and now has over 100,000,000 participants is proof that it is a serious Social Media player and that you should be tapping in to this large and constantly growing network.
More than just a micro blog, Google+ offers rich functionality from the ability to create a link and keyword rich profile to the ability to hold an online conference (Hang Out) with a select group of people (Circle). Michael Dell, President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama number among the users of these powerful tools.
If you have not created a Google+ account, make it a priority. While there are still many who are on the fence with regard to Google+ pointing to Google Buzz and Google Wave as projects that never got the necessary critical mass – Google has made it clear that it will be investing heavily in Google+ in both development and marketing. You may have noticed television ads for Google+ during the Academy Awards.
Get started with these ABCs of Google+ – which will quickly begin to pay dividends in your B2B marketing mix.
Abundant Profile Options
The first thing to fill out is your profile. Google+ provides 13 categories: Introduction, Bragging Rights, Occupation, Employment, Education, Places Lived, Home Contact, Work Contact, Relationship, Looking For, Gender, Other Names, and Profile Discovery.
When you approach these categories – think “search.” In what ways do you want to be found and for what reason? If you are looking to increase your connections in ordered to get hired that points to one way to fill out your profile. However, if you are looking to promote your business, that points to a different way of filling out your profile.
As far as I can tell, you can make the introduction as long as you’d like. This is a great way to showcase your expertise, products, services and achievements.
Bragging rights a means to highlight something spectacular that you’ve done. You don’t get a lot of real estate here – so focus on the one thing that you’re most proud of – an award, an usual accomplishment, etc. The other achievements can be listed in the introduction.
The category “Looking for” is an answer to the question “What are looking to accomplish on Google+?” For those of us in business, check the “Networking” option.
You are not required to fill out every category. Only the categories that you populate will appear on your profile page. So if you leave a section blank, it won’t be included.
Finally, you have the ability in “Profile Discovery” to make your profile visible to everyone or limit the visibility. If you’re looking to network and promote your brand, you’ll want to make you Google+ profile visible to everyone.
The thing I like best about Google+ profiles is the ability to add all of your social media links to ‘Other profiles’ (located on the right hand side bar) and your website, blog to ‘Contributor to’. If you want to connect with someone on multiple social media platforms, I’d encourage you to search them out on Google+ first and take a look at their profile to see what other social media sites they’ve listed.
Now that your profile is in place, you are ready to begin to find people and be found. As you find people, you will need to add them to Google+ Circles. Circles are a way of segmenting audiences. Google+ will give you some default Circles, but you’ll want to create your own, these could include customers, prospects, referral partners, journalists, etc.
Because of the integration with other Google applications and tools, it is easy to import connections from Gmail. You may also use the Google+ search function to find and circle people.
Google+ currently limits you to 5,000 people that you can include in Circles. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t really start seeing sharing and activity, until you get to about 300 people in your circles. In the beginning it may be beneficial to add people to Circles just to get your network populated, then as you approach the 5,000 maximum you can move people out of your Circles in order to make room for more meaningful contacts.
Once you get a handful of people into your Circles, begin sharing information and links. A good way to encourage +1s and comments on your updates, is to +1 and comment on information being shared by others.
As Google looks to refine its algorithms, it is placing more and more emphasis on content that is being shared – +1 is an indication of valuable content because someone has deemed the information worth being shared.
Circle Your Way to More Powerful Communication
One of the most exciting aspects of Google+ is the ability to segment your messaging based on your Circles. This means that if you want to share an update with your referral partners that is specifically for them and wouldn’t be of interest to your customers or prospects, for example – you can create the update and select a particular Circle for distribution – the status update will be limited to that group.
This feature is more about not cluttering up the streams of uninterested parties than ‘for your eyes’ only. As Guy Kawasaki points out in his book What the Plus!:
Before you go nuts attempting to use circles as a privacy method, “lock” the posts that you don’t want people to re-share with their followers. Otherwise, for example, a student could share a post with her school friends, and any of them could re-share that post with her parents.
Of course, even if you lock the post, people can still copy and paste your test, take a screenshot of your picture, and share it with others. In other words, privacy is an illusion, and nothing is truly private once you press the “Share” button. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be stupid, either.
A better way to think of circles is as a method to increase the relevancy of posts to groups of people rather than to ensure privacy.
More frequently I see the opposite happen. Someone creates an update, and rather than sharing it via the “public” button – they share it with a particular circle. When you attempt to re-share an update that has been sent to a particular circle – you will get a pop-up window that alerts you to the fact that the sender had limited the distribution to the circle. Out of respect for the sender, even if I suspect they want wider distribution, I will err on the side of caution and not re-share it.
These are just three areas of Google+, there are many, many more features and ways to use it. This was meant as a way to whet your interest and get your started. Good luck!
Two fantastic resources (affiliate links) from Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan: