With more than 1 billion registered users and around 350 million monthly active users, Google+ is a social network that you just cannot ignore. You might not find it as engaging or popular among social networking enthusiasts as Facebook, but it’s still a platform that can benefit you immensely especially if you intend to sell products (digital or physical) online.
The striking fact about Google+ is the unique and dedicated audience it has been able to build over the last couple of years. You’d find many highly influential people from almost all industries using Google+ with keen interest. According to certain studies, almost 50% of all Google+ users sign in daily. The user activity on Google+ also increased significantly ever since people realized its SEO benefits.
So whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business or an established organization, here are a few tips for using Google+ as a direct sales channel.
1. Create a Comprehensive Profile
While this is an obvious requirement to get started with any social network, an unusually large number of people and businesses ignore it completely or partially for some reason. The key to making sales on any social network is credibility. But without a comprehensive and detailed profile, you and your business would appear like the thousands of other inactive and unreliable businesses on Google+.
While the number of active Google+ users is on a steep rise, the majority of its users are still in passive mode. So there are a lot of dead and inactive business profile on it. You need to differentiate yourself from them.
- Complete every segment of your personal profile.
- If you have a company, sign up for Google+ Business Page and claim your company on Google Maps. This would make you visible in Google searches.
- Use a custom made header image that includes some sort of call to action (CTA). It can be anything from a simple email sign up invitation to a seasonal discount announcement.
- Use the About Page description area wisely. It allows you to add do follow backlinks to your website and important pages within the content of the description. This description is also searchable on Google+ and Google search.
- Sign up for Google Authorship to link all your web content directly with your Google+ account.
- List all your other social media accounts on your profile.
2. Join Relevant Communities
Communities are one of the strongest features of Google+. This is where you can get in touch directly with your target audience and potential customers, listen to what they’re saying and start conversations with them. Currently there are millions of communities on Google+ related to almost every industry imaginable. Your challenge is to identify the communities that resonate with your target audience. Once you find them, join them and take benefit.
- Go to the communities section of Google+ on the left menu bar on your profile.
- Search for communities using the right keywords. (Hint: use keywords that represent the solution that your product offers)
- When you join a community, don’t immediately start sharing links to your content, blog posts and product sales pages. If you do that, you’d get banned in most cases. But even if you escape a ban, nobody would engage with you.
- Communities demand patience and interaction, so focus on these two elements.
3. Post Consistently at the Right Times
As I said earlier, there are still millions of dead or partially active profile on Google+. In order to differentiate yourself you need to stay active and post consistently on your page and profile. Your followers should be aware of your posting schedule and frequency.
You’d stand no chance of building a vibrant following if you’re inconsistent in your activities on Google+. Similarly, the timing of your posts is also crucial. If you post in the peak hours, you’re much more likely to get comments, +1s and shares.
- Create a posting schedule and frequency and follow it religiously.
- Identify the peak hours of your followers. In general, studies suggest that 11 AM and 3 PM are the best times to post on Google+, while Friday attracts the highest engagement.
- Schedule your posts for all time zones using the BufferApp.
4. Use the SEO Strength of Google+
The biggest advantage of Google+ over other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, is that the posts on Google+ are directly indexed by Google’s search engine. This means your Google+ posts can show up in the search results for the relevant keywords. In fact, in personalized results, Google would prefer showing your posts in search results to people who’ve followed your page or have your in their circles.
This offers an exciting opportunity to cash in on the SEO benefits of Google+ and get ranked on the most relevant search terms that your target customers use to search for your products.
- Post a combination of short and long posts on your Google+ profile.
- Just like blogging, use headings and relevant keywords in your Google+ posts.
- Always include a high quality image with your posts.
- Always add a backlink to a relevant page on your website or include a clear CTA.
5. Be Creative in Your Content
By its very nature, social networking encourages informal and fun ways to interact with other people. People would quickly run away if you keep sharing long, boring and unattractive posts. So you need to mix your value based posts with a bit of fun.
Animated GIFs are extremely popular among Google+ users and can help you get lots of comments and shares. Similarly, other forms of content like memes, short videos, infographics and comics can really help you boost engagement.
- Use free services like Make a Gif to create animated gifs.
- Use the Quick Memes to create memes for your page
- Mix up your knowledge based content with fun content. For example, if you post 5 times a day, post 3 fun based and 2 knowledge based posts.
6. Simplify the Buying Process
The goal with all the recommendations above, was to create a vibrant and engaged following on your Google+ page. However, your ultimate objective is to convert these engaged followers into paying customers.
To do that, you need to create an extremely simple buying process that minimizes distractions and redirections, and helps buyers complete their purchases as quickly as possible. Similarly, you need to offer them the most convenient payment options that are universally accepted and practiced.
Without putting in place a friendly buying process, you might lose a significant number of potential customers even after fully engaging them and getting them ready for the purchase.
- Add 1 product or sales related post in your daily content schedule.
- Always use high quality product images with your product related posts.
- Use Selz for directly routing your followers to a checkout page where they can complete the purchase. The advantage with Selz is that it has a one-step check out process that includes no redirections or distractions. It also simplifies payment collection by accepting Master Card, Visa and PayPal payments.
- Make sure you collect the email addresses of your buyers for future sales and promotions. Again, you can use Selz to do that since it can integrate with auto responder services like MailChimp and AWeber and build email lists directly from the buyer checkout page.
As I said at the start, Google+ still has a lot of inactive or disengaged users. But that number is very quickly decreasing. But even in its current state, the member base of Google+ is large enough to send thousands of highly engaged followers to your page that can be converted into paying customers. If you get the structure of your content right, engage people regularly and provide them an easy checkout process, there’s no reason why you can’t make Google+ one of your primary sales channels.