Google+ and Your Small Business

g+ imageWhen most people think of getting on social media, they typically think of the main three power-houses: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But if you’re skipping out on Google+ you are definitely missing out! For starters having an active Google+ account will help grow your search engine rankings, and according to a recent article by Social Media Today, Google+ is estimated to “surpass Facebook and become the most widely used social network in the world” (Social Media Today). If that doesn’t get you creating a Google+ profile soon, here are a few more perks of getting your small business on the ever-growing social media platform.

Visibility.

Having a profile on Google+ increases the likelihood that your business will come up in a Google search should a customer search for something related to your business, products, or services.  This is because Google has incorporated Google+ into its algorithms and it prioritizes Google+ activity over all other social network activity when displaying search results. SO, to put it simply, having an active account will benefit your search rankings. Additionally, Google+ influences the search results for all the people who have your business in their Circle. We all know the higher your company appears on a Google search, the better.

Hangouts.

Possibly one of the most innovative tools on Google+ is the Hangouts feature. Hangouts can be used for simply group messaging to one person, or video calls. The video calls are similar to Skype, but can include up to ten people on one video chat. This is a great tool for a small business because it gives you the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with your customers in a highly personal way for FREE. Use video Hangouts to interact in real-time with your audience; ask questions, give advice, and engage with them.

Helpouts.

Google released Helpouts earlier this week on November 5th and its touted as being “Real Help from Real People in Real Time”.  Its an extension of Hangouts but a bit more personal where you can find an expert on a particular topic and have a one on one video session to get help with a particular problem or get educated on a particular topic. You can video chat live with an expert for a nominal charge on topics ranging from Health, Fitness & Nutrition, Home Improvements, Computers & Electronics and Fashion & Beauty to name a few. It’s a great new way to share your expertise or learn in real time with others anywhere in the world for a small fee. But for now you’ll have to wait to host your own Helpouts since Google is limiting the providers by invitation only. But you can start consuming all the help and knowledge you want by visiting Google Helpouts here .

Communities.

Google+ Communities are like virtual groups for people to get together and talk about shared interests. Google+ users join Communities to start conversations around specific interests, hobbies, groups, organizations, etc. Join Communities that relate to your business and target demographic, or create a new Community. Use them to share your expertise, interact with potential customers, etc. Earlier this week Google+ introduced Restricted Communities that allows businesses to have private or invite-only Communities without broadcasting thoughts to the entire world. It’s meant to be more corporate communications and is Google’s way of getting business users used to Google+ with the hopes they would also use it for non-business purposes.

Reviews.

These days, it seems everyone’s a critic and you need to be on top of your reputation and reviews. Your Google Reviews show up in search results and it influences both current and prospective customers and the over-all perception of your brand. Having a Google+ account can help you manage reviews and respond when appropriate, i.e. thanking a customer for a nice review, or doing damage control for a negative review. 

The growth of Google+ can’t and shouldn’t be ignored by small businesses any longer. In addition to the features of Google+ shared above, there are many more helpful tools you can utilize if you have a Google+ page, including Google Authorship, On Air Hangouts, Places, and Maps. So if you hop on just one more social media platform this year make sure it Google+, because after all it’s Google and if they don’t already rule the world they will someday!

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