Despite being the most popular search engine in the world, many businesses are still not utilizing Google or its properties efficiently. Google Plus - the second largest social network in the world – is particularly useful for businesses, yet many are still not on board.
Social media platforms are a treasure trove of customer information, and Google Plus is no exception. It is also the only platform that combines elements from other popular social media and integrates them efficiently into its own network. This is not just for the benefit of the user: companies can benefit greatly from the provided information without impeding a user’s privacy.
The user’s About section is an ideal place to start. Beyond the basic information of circles, location, and employment, there is other, more valuable information to be found. You will be able see a person’s Google reviews, all their YouTube history, and any websites they have written for – known as Authorship, which we’ll explore later. Understanding psychographics is invaluable, and online behaviour is a key indicator of the interests and values of your targeted audience.
Images are a perfect example of a data mining opportunities. Google Plus’ Images include Exif information that is automatically attached to images shared by customers – but it is up to the user to share or hide it. Because many people don’t realize what is imbedded in the image, people often do not bother to obfuscate the data. GPS coordinates, date and time, and even camera brand are all imbedded in each image, and can be extremely valuable to marketers when determining customer behaviour and preference.
The Ripples feature is especially useful for determining the social influence of a user. Ripples show you how a public article is shared, by whom, and the amount of influence each person has by the size of their circles (it is not available for privately shared pieces). Marketers will be able to discover key influencers, as well as who is in their circles. Identifying key influencers could be the difference between an unsuccessful or successful word of mouth campaign.
A Statistics Canada report from 2007 shows 1,138,761 businesses in Canada; 85-99% (depending on size) were online. That’s a lot of competition for businesses, and distinguishing yourself from your rivals is the key to increasing your market share and improving your bottom line.
Being transparent in your business ethics, customer service and crisis communications can be the deciding factor for a wavering client. As more businesses move online, it’s becoming increasingly important that companies embody their organizational ideals. Customers are better informed than ever; a poorly handled situation with a customer can result in a bad Google review (which is linked to your business name in the search results), as well as negative connections in social platforms. If your company’s mandate is ‘the customer is number 1!’, your customer service history should reflect that. Google Plus is another important platform to disseminate proper information about your company, as well as ensuring you can monitor customer interaction with your brand.
When registering a business page on Google Plus Local, you are always asked to add your physical location. This falls in line with Google’s change to their search algorithms, which are now driving local results. This change now prioritizes businesses that are local to the search user, and is often overlooked by many organizations. By creating a Google Plus Local page, you ensure that your business is found more quickly and valued more highly by the search engines than the sites of your competitors.
Recently, Google has begun implementing Authorship, the process of adding the author’s image to the link description, as well as a link to their other published works. It has also been suggested that having Authorship will improve rankings in the search results pages, giving your organization’s webpage an edge over the competition.
In order to have Authorship, there must be a link between the article and the author’s Google Plus profile. This can be done by adding a byline to the article, and adding the link of the article to your Google Plus account. Although it can take up to fourteen days to appear, Authorship increases click through rates and user’s confidence in both the content and site legitimacy.
In all, Google Plus offers many benefits to any organization. It yields opportunities to better understand clients and their needs, position your company as an authority with Authorship, and increase visibility in search results. Considering it’s all free, can you afford not to?