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Why You and Your Business Need to Invest in Google+

Business-to-business marketers represent big companies, and big decisions sometimes require a lot of cross-department buy-in. Yet we can still be slow to adapt to a changing technology landscape.  Wouldn’t you like to be ahead of the curve for once?

Social media networks rise and fall with regularity, and as marketers, we're often put in the position of investing actively in developing an audience on a particular platform, only to see the audience fall away when the platform cools off. Who cares how many MySpace friends you have, right? Many businesses feel like Facebook is constantly moving the goalposts, some are writing breakup letters, and others are doing detailed analyses of paid “Like” fraud. It’s hard to know where to invest your time and resources.

One social network is going to buck this trend of a dramatic rise, and equally dramatic fall: Google+. Google+ is not going anywhere. As a result, your investment in the network early is likely to grow in value over time.

google plus for businesses

Photo credit: Searchmetrics

Despite doubling in size year-over-year, its active user base is still comparatively small. And that's actually great news for you and your business, because "small" is a relative term. Google+ has 29 million unique monthly users on its website and 41 million on smartphones, with some users overlapping, compared with Facebook’s 128 million users on its website and 108 million on mobile devices, according to Nielsen

And this "smallness" means there's still green field for developing an audience and connecting with them. There are a lot of influencers active on the platform right now, and because there's less noise, it's much easier to establish relationships. When you look at the firehose that is your Twitter feed, can you say the same thing?

The reason that Google+ isn't going anywhere is that Google is weaving it very tightly into the fabric of its entire ecosystem. Here’s how:

Google+ is the foundation for Authorship markup in organic search:

  • This is a de facto identify system where authors can become known entities.
  • This changes the way visitors scan the SERP, and can substantially impact CTR.
  • Though not currently used as a ranking factor, it seems like an obvious candidate to play a role in ranking and retrieval as it develops.

Google+ Local is the basis for verifying local businesses as entities and returning them in local search results:

  • "The best locally relevant results, served globally" is the No. 1 goal of Google’s search quality team.
  • Google+ Local is Google’s platform for user ratings and reviews of local businesses, rivalling Yelp.
  • Links to Google+ Business profiles are often present as part of the new Knowledge Graph results that appear prominently for your company’s brand queries.

Google+ is linked to Google accounts automatically:

  • Google accounts give you access to all the free products you already use like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Analytics, and AdWords.
  • Google+ is the commenting system for YouTube, which has over one billion unique users per month.

To clarify, you shouldn't be investing in G+ just because it’s going to be around for the long haul, although that’s a pretty compelling reason. G+ is building some amazing products that are creating marketing opportunities that have never existed before:

  • Google+ Post Ads
    • Businesses with at least 1,000 Google+ followers can now use the platform to create interactive ad units and display them across the millions of sites that comprise the Google Display Network (GDN).
    • Normal GDN targeting and pricing models apply.
    • Businesses can use ANY of their Google+ posts as ad creative.
      • Google+ is now your beta-testing platform for all of your social ad creative.  Launch Google+ posts as you normally would, and push winners even further with Post Ads
      • Use engagement metrics of your past posts as the starting point for deciding what to promote first (i.e. promote the stuff that people have engaged a lot with in the past).
      • Proactively push engagement for exceptionally valuable content (e.g. content around major company news).
      • You can use any YouTube video that you’ve uploaded and posted to Google+ as your ad creative, which can be great for awareness of new initiatives and product launches.
      • Hangouts On Air can also be turned into interactive, live ad units (think conference events, investor calls, Q&A sessions, etc.), which are also archived and available after the event.
  • Hangouts
    • Conduct multi-person meetings about product launches, or thought leadership events.
    • Shoppable hangouts are allowing visitors to buy the products you talk about as they're being introduced in the Hangout.
    • Hangouts are archived and searchable on YouTube, extending the value of a specific event to a much broader audience.
  • Circles
    • You can create audience segments via Circles the same way you segment your email sends.
      • Make your messages relevant to each audience’s specific interests.
      • Improve response rates to your messages.
  • Auto Awesome
    • Get creative with the automatic .gif builder to create engaging views of your products or people in your company (gifs get crazy attention on G+).
    • The Auto Awesome Android app will actually create videos for you (if you’re lazy) and video uploads to G+ have been increasing by 20X.

When you combine a long-term view of investing your time and resources in a platform that's going to build in value over time, it makes sense to start investing now.

Google search is still the front door to the open web for the majority of Internet users. That's not changing anytime soon. So long as that remains true, Google+ has a valuable role to play in your social media, content marketing and brand building strategies for years to come.

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