Google's social network has a few robust features that small businesses and teams within large organizations can put to good use. Here are 5 ways company's can use Google+ and a few extra tips at the end for improving your experience.
1. Team Meetings with Google Hangouts
While Google+ has some similarities to Facebook (+1 = Like) there is one big feature that sets it apart: Hangouts.
A Google+ Hangout is a group video chat that can hold up to 10 people at once. It's great for meeting with attendees in different locations, coaching groups, board meetings, and even social discussions. The audio quality in a Google+ Hangout is usually very good and the system does a decent job of correcting for lag and other issues.
If you're ready to really improve your virtual collaboration experience through Google+ Hangouts, think about upgrading with an inexpensive Chromebox.We use Chromebox for our team huddleevery Friday. The sound and video quality are excellent and it seamlessly integrates with your Google calendar. When I'm ready to join the meeting (since I work remotely) I just click "Join the Meeting" link within my calendar invitation.
Another great feature of Hangouts is that you can automatically save the video to your YouTube channel. This is perfect for recording interviews or group discussions for content creation.
2. Start or join a Community
Private - Create a private group for your team or a collaboration group between your team and clients. If you share information regularly with a small group of people on Google+, you can set up a private Community to make it easier to share and collaborate with the group. It's also a great way to keep all of your assets, information, and discussions in one spot for reference.
Public - Search for established public Communities to start engaging with. There are thousands of groups on Google+. No matter what your business may be, you can probably find your customers, clients and constituents engaged in discussions, sharing, learning and brainstorming in these Communities. Although your business's Google+ page won't be able to participate in Communities directly, you can use your personal profile to join Communities.
3. Organize your special events
There are a few nice features here that you may not know about. You can use events in Google+ to promote your organizations special RSVP events, webinars, classes, sales and promotional events, celebrations and meetings. If you plan ahead, you can even use it to encourage your customers or clients to share photos and videos of the event.The featuresallow you to keep all the photos from the group and the event organized in one place.
Share photos and videos with everyone at the event.
Create your event page and use it as the hub.
Sync the event with your Google Calendar automatically.
Use events to schedule Hangouts for those who can't attend in person.
Use Party Mode to share in real time at the event
4. Spice up your posts with visual markups and CTAs
If you're new to Google+ or the phrases "visual markups" and "CTAs" make you scratch your head, then this might be a little advanced. But bear with me!
There are so many cool things you can do to make your posts really stand out on Google+.
Visual markupslet you add bold, italics, numbered lists, and other nuances to your text to help your post get noticed. You can also add interactive elements to your post, likeCTAs (calls to action) by using different label options. I would encourage you to click the links above to learn more. Take full advantage of all these sweet interactive features and make your posts more effective.
5. Google+ Local and the power of location
Encourage your customers to review your business on Google Local. A company's Google+ Local page displays the business hours, directions, and other relevant details. Customers can check-in, add photos, and leave reviews, just like Yelp or Foursquare.
If your business uses Google AdWords, you can deploy social extensions to allow you to link your Google+ page to your ads.
By default, AdWords ads that appear on Google or the Google Display Network all have a +1 button. A web user +1'ing your ad endorses your specific landing page and vice versa. With social extensions, a +1 on your ad applies to your Google+ Page. All +1's from your Google+ Page are also applied to your AdWords ads.
This creates a larger social web presence for both your ads and your Google+ Page, making it more likely that someone who sees them will see an annotation. Since annotations make your ads more relevant, they may also increase your overall ad performance."
6. Add Google+ icon and badge to your website
Make sure your clients and customers know how to find and follow you on Google+. You can do this by cross-promoting your page on other social networks (Ex: Hey Twitter followers, find us on Google+ where we post a daily discussion forum for your questions!).
Add a link to your company's Google+ page with your other social media icons.
You can add a Google+ badge to your blog or website to make it easy for your readers to follow you. Do this with your personal profile, as well.
Tips for using your personal Google+ profile
Follow the leaders. You may be tempted to treat Google+ like Facebook and just accept everyone. However, you may get more value from Google+ when you're a bit more discriminating. Michael Reynolds says "Aside from close friends and family, I only circle people I know personally or that are extreme thought leaders."
Find the thought leaders in your industry and circle them. For us, it's marketing leaders likeChris Brogan and Christopher Penn. Then be really picky about adding anyone else.
Segment ruthlessly. Use Google+ circles to full advantage. You can assign people into circles to segment them by labels, interests, and categories. This lets you quickly jump to the circle you want to get information from as needed. It also gives you the power to share certain posts with only those who will be most interested in the content.
Use Google+ as your photo sharing site. You can share photos on Facebook and other sites but Google+ displays them the most beautifully. While other sites degrade quality and convert your photos to low-res versions, Google+ displays beautiful high-res photos that you can easily share. It also lets you link your smart phone to your profile so that all your photos are automatically backed up.
How does your company use Google+? We'd like to hear your comments and questions below.