500 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TIPS: GOOGLE PLUS

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Google+ Tips: Plus One Your Marketing Strategy
When Google+ first launched in 2011, many assumed – probably correctly – that Google’s social network was going to be the search giant’s answer to Facebook.

While its user base grew to well over 500 million by 2014, Google+ never really blew up in the way that Google might’ve hoped, and the site began to reshape and refocus.

By late 2015, instead of a kind-of Facebook clone,
Google+ was fully redesigned and re-developed to put Communities
(a place for people to gather to discuss any topic they are passionate about) and Collections (a way to group posts by topic, providing an easy way for people to organize everything that they’re into) front and center.

In essence, Google+ is now a stripped back version of what it was, a place for people to gather to share and discuss their interests. Despite the major changes to Google+ in 2015, Google's dominance of search on the web means that the site can be beneficial as a place for businesses to maintain a presence.

There is no easier way to increase visibility of your content on Google search than to encourage comments, shares, and +1s (the social network's equivalent of Facebook "likes") on your Google+ account.

The major caveat to this ?
You will have to commit to building a Google+ community against competing social networks, especially Facebook and Pinterest, neither of which have undergone such a dramatic transition, and all which have a much more active use base (an average of 20 minutes per day on Facebook vs just seven minutes per month on Google+, according to DMR).

One of the biggest criticisms of the re-design is that, at present, there is no way to leave reviews on brand pages. All of that aside, if you and your audience are prepared to put in the time and effort, then the opportunity remains.

Google+ Profile Optimization A solid Google+ marketing strategy begins with a profile that knocks the socks off customers and prospects. Here's how to make that happen. Use the following tips to build, brand, improve search engine ranking and form relationships using Google+.

Get a Google+ brand page, not a profile page As with Facebook, make sure you create a Google+ brand page for your business rather than another personal profile. Google My Business is the way for businesses, products, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence with Google.

When you add your business using Google
My Business, you’ll automatically create a Google+ page.
Customers who follow your business page can show appreciation and give feedback with posts and comments and they’ll also be able to use the +1 button to endorse products and services on Google Search, Maps, or on ads.

Assuming you already have a personal Google account setup, visit
https://business.google.com/manage to begin, then click the plus (+) icon from the Brand Pages tab to add a Google+ page. Enter your business name, website, and what type of page you want to create. Verify your business by SMS or voice call, and you're ready to begin.


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If your business has a physical location, click the Locations tab to add details. Google+ Local pages are indexed in Google search results, and display reviews, additional details and photos of a business beside it – reviews can no longer be submitted on Google+.

As a result, a well-produced Local page that includes all of your most important business information has a good chance of getting high engagement with users. Google+ Local users also receive prompts to review your business if they search for it on Google.

Upload a compelling cover image, grab my template Use your Google+ cover image to express your brand image, tell people where you are, showcase new products, advertise upcoming events, or for whatever you like, really.

As of November 2013, the recommended size is 1080 pixels × 608 pixels, and the smallest image size you are allowed to upload is 480 pixels × 270 pixels. By uploading the larger size, you ensure that your cover will be seen in its best light on mobiles and desktops.

Note: Download a Google+ cover photo template optimized for desktop and mobile screens (and lots of other great stuff) via the Premium Content Bundle chapter of this book. Add a circular profile photo or a transparent logo The Google+ profile image switched from a square to a circle in March 2013. Its minimum size is 250 × 250 pixels, and this will be scaled down to 104 × 104 pixels when re-sized.

If you have a square company logo, you might find it tricky to get it to fit fully inside Google+'s profile photo circle on your page, even with the cropping and sizing tools that present themselves when you upload.

The trick here is to upload your profile image as a .png file with a transparent background. Upon upload, drag the cropping edges right to the corners so that the while image will show on your business page.

If your image still doesn't look right at this stage, click on it from your profile and choose More -> Auto Enhance -> off from the menu at the top.

Add a compelling tagline In your 'About' section, Google+ allows you to add a 140-character tagline to appear underneath your profile’s business name.

The tagline acts like an elevator pitch to visitors, will appear as the description when somebody shares your page, and as the first sentence when your Google+ page is found in Google search. Keep it short, snappy, descriptive and keyword-rich, or as a message to explain who you are and what you and your business is all about.

Check out a few examples from these well-known names for inspiration:
Yahoo! News - “The official Google+ page for Yahoo! News.

All stories are hand-picked by the Y! News team.”, Volkswagen: “Take a look around, kick the tires, and ask questions to get to know our community.”, and ESPN: “We +1 Sports” Add a +1 button and Google+ badges to your website If you write a blog, be sure to add a +1 button widget to your posts, so that your fans can share your content on Google+ easily. Just search for "Google+ button" or grab the embed code from the following link: https://developers.google.com/+/web/+1button/

Meanwhile, the Google+ badge is the equivalent to the Facebook "Like" box in that it lets readers follow you on Google+ without leaving your site. In addition, however, it also has benefits within search results. When you embed the Google+ badge for pages on your site, an active Follow widget will show up next to your website's listing in Google search results.

To install the Google+ Badge, simply search online for "Google+ Badge"
Google+ Marketing and Content Strategy Google+ might not have as much mainstream appeal as its competitors, but some of its features - especially discussion and conferencing tools - make it an extremely powerful destination for relationship building if the site is where your audience or prospects like to hang out.

Let's take a look at some ways to maximize the impact of your approach…
Share top content, boost your SEO Your Google+ audience may differ from those on Facebook and Twitter, so get to know them by asking questions, polling, sharing great and relevant content, and interacting.

Posting great content on Google+ does more than reach out to your circles and other users — it also “markets” to search engines.
Anytime you post content to Google+, Google immediately indexes it, giving you faster exposure to new viewers.

When you share a link to an article on your Google+ page (whether it is your own content or someone else's) write the first sentence of the post mindfully with  relevant keywords and phrases.

The first sentence of a post makes up part of the title tag in search results and can affect its ranking. If you notice that your post isn’t getting much attention, try editing the text you used to see if that improves things.

The longer a piece of content exists, the longer it’s in the index of Google, so as people continue to search and interact with it, it will continue to show up near the top of search results.  What’s more, your content is more likely to appear in your contacts’ online searches, thanks to Google's personalized results.

Note: In May 2015, Google+ introduced Collections, a way to group your posts by topic - very similar to Pinterest boards. Collections can be shared publicly in your timeline, or privately.

Create yours via the “Collections” tab on your page or profile, and use them as an easy way to curate and share images, links, videos – maybe as a “catalogue” of your products, a hub for breaking industry news, your newest offers, etc.

Embed Google+ Posts on your website Like Twitter and Facebook, Google+ allows you to lift posts you publish and embed them onto your website or blog, which can help to give your content an extra lease on life and boost its engagement.

When someone encounters the Google+ embedded post on your site, they can +1, comment, or follow you, all without leaving your site.
How to embed a Google+ post

1. On Google+, move your cursor over
the right corner of a post to reveal a down arrow.
Click the arrow to expand the post options and select "Embed post."
2. A text box containing HTML/Javascript code will appear.

Copy and paste the code in the location of your article where you'd like to display the post. Use pictures and video for higher engagement Much more powerful than text are images and video, and they work incredibly well on Google+, dominating the "What's hot and recommended" section under the Explore tab.



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Be sure to use images to your advantage by implementing the strategies for images detailed throughout this book, and the fact that Google+ does not crop or resize uploaded photos, so that they always retain their visual impact.

In your Profile settings, make all photos public, downloadable and showing geo-location for as transparent and shareable an experience as possible.

One of the benefits of sharing YouTube videos to Google+ is that when you post a YouTube video to Google+, users can view and comment on the media within their feed and these comments also appear on your YouTube video.

If you want to take image and video enhancement a step further, Google+’s Auto Awesome feature allows you to create GIF-style media for your page using photos, videos or both.

To begin, download the Google+ mobile app, then enable Auto Awesome from the Camera Settings menu. After snapping or recording on mobile, upload the content to Google+ and shortly afterwards your animation will materialize.

Use Mentions and hashtags As with Twitter and Facebook, @mentions and hashtags are important on Google+, both in tagging other users in your posts and grouping related content.

To hyperlink someone’s name in your posts, type “+” or “@” and then his or her name. Unlike other social networks, Google+ uses hashtags to help people explore tagged content rather than simply curate it. This is typified by Google+ search, which returns related hashtags and trending topics when you submit a query.

As such, adding hashtags to your Google+ statuses will help people with related interests find it - even if you're not connected to them - and you can also see what related hashtags appear on key searches for your industry, then incorporate the ideas you find into future content.

Note: Don't forget to include #yourbrandname in updates. If the hashtag is picked up and used by others, it has more chance of being a suggested hashtag, within search, to others.

 
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In most cases, Google+ shows hashtags in the top-right corner of statuses in the same order as they were added, so be sure to use your branded hashtag first! Google+ contest strategy Although Google+'s contest terms are strict (they begin with the rather damning sentence

“You may not run contests, sweepstakes, or other such promotion directly on Google+ or in a manner that requires use of G+ features or functionality.”, there are still several ways to leverage the platform to engage your community through giveaways without violating its promotions policy.

These include: Asking fans to suggest ideas to improve your business, anchored with a specific hashtag to post along with submissions (the one you like the best get early access to your next product before everyone else).

Classify entries as "applications" so not to break the promotions policy. Asking fans to show you how they use your product or service in their everyday lives and showcasing the best examples on your page.

In this case, recognition and a feature on your page is the "prize." Google+ does allow you to “display a link on Google+ to a separate site where your Promotion is hosted,” so use this as an opportunity to promote a contest on your Google+ page (but one that is not hosted directly on the site).

Read up on Google+'s full contest rules here:
Hunt for prospects and brand ambassadors on Google+ As with Twitter, you can use Boolean search techniques on Google+ to find people who are talking about your brand, services, or products using the search bar at the top of the site.

To begin, enter keywords, as well as hashtags that are related to your brand or niche, then filter your search by content type (posts, photos, most recent mentions, etc.) to find mentions with the most potential.

Utilize searches as a means to discover potential customers (e.g., people with problems you can solve or desires you can meet) or existing brand ambassadors (people saying nice things about you) and target them to build strong, long-lasting relationships that will convert into further sharing of your content, leading them to influence the emergence of new customers and conversions further on down the line.

Hashtags are particularly useful for prospect hunting on Google+ as they allow you to deepen your investigation to find and interact with new communities and potential brand ambassadors.

When you search using hashtags, the results will return Collections, Communities, People, and Pages that have mentioned or are related to the topic. Use Google+ Communities to engage and gather feedback The Google+ Communities tab gives people – your customers included - a place to gather with one another and discuss almost anything, including your products and brand offering.

When you create your own Community, it has the potential to become an invaluable resource as it allows you to get feedback and engage with your customers in a personal and meaningful way.

What's more, all of the content posted within a Community page (whether Public or Private to invited members) is indexed by Google search.

Compared to posts on your Google+ page, Google+ Community updates should be longer and more conversational, with more detail on a specific topic or a fuller explanation of the content you are sharing - something like you might see on a web message board, for example, complete with a question to finish in order to encourage feedback.

To create a Community, simply select the Community tab in the sidebar of Google+, then click 'Create A Community' from the “Yours Tab”. Don't forget to tell your fans and customers that it exists and encourage them to get involved.

In addition to setting up your own Community, search for Communities within your business sector or niche and actively participate in them to make connections, share expertise, and set yourself up as an authority figure.

Once you are an established member of a Google+ Community, you begin to share content you have created regularly, to encourage more views and engagement with it.

Carrying out this kind of self-promotion is okay when you are new to a Community, but you don't want to do it too often and risk coming over as spammy and unprofessional, which could eventually get you blocked from the Community altogether.

Connect with customers in Google+ Hangouts Make use of Google’s free video conferencing feature, Google Hangouts, to reach and interact with potential new customers and foster professional connections.

You can use Google+ Hangouts for all manner of purposes, from product demos to interviews, to live webinars (with screen-sharing), private meetings or pretty much anything else you can think of.

Hangouts are a fantastic way to connect to your peers and extend your brand's reach and are particularly valuable if your business is not in a position to invest in expensive webinar or online meeting software.

While you can only have 10 participants actively on video, you can stream the video to an unlimited number of viewers on YouTube using the Hangouts on Air feature and the video is saved to your YouTube account for anyone to view at a later date. The most successful Hangouts are those planned in advance, both content and promotion-wise. Spread the word far and wide.

To set up a Google Hangout, visit http://hangouts.google.com.
Choose between video, telephone, or text chat, then use the custom-generated link to invite others to join.

Take advantage of the visual nature of Hangouts to impart information and use as many tactics as you can think of to find an audience (informing Google+ Communities, telling fans and customers on other social networks, writing a blog or email newsletter, paid promotion, etc.).

Completed Hangouts can be published as a video to your YouTube channel and, if they're long, people who weren't there to watch live may not be as compelled to stick around for the entirety of the recorded broadcast. To make their viewing experience easier, mark each distinct topic of discussion with a timestamp in the video description.

Think about timestamps as an interactive table of contents for your Hangout. Time stamps use the format of HH:MM:SS, where HH, MM, and SS, equals hours, minutes and seconds respectively.

When someone clicks on the timestamp, the player automatically jumps to that location in the video. For example, typing "Discussing summer promotion 01:22:33" would create a link that, when clicked, jumps to 1 hour 22 minutes, and 33 seconds.


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Note: As a way to grow your Hangouts On Air audience for the future, submit your recordings to the directory at Hangouts on Air Shows http://www.hoashows.com
HOAShows is one of the more regularly updated Hangouts On Air directories, and also a great place to find other great Hangouts On Air to join.

Visit the Google+ Hangouts page at https://plus.google.com/hangouts
to see what Hangouts are happening live right now. Test, measure and apply
As with all social media, the key to finding what strategy works best for your business on Google+ is to try experimenting with different types of posts and Hangouts and seeing what your followers engage most.

Measure your performance via Google Analytics, as this is key to gaining more meaningful insights into your followers' behavior towards your activity.

To focus specifically on the progress of custom campaigns and referral traffic, use Goals in Google Analytics in conjunction with giving links custom URLs via the Google URL Builder[S2], found at http://bit.ly/googleurlbuildertool

Paid Advertising on Google+ All Google+ Pages with 1000 or more followers can take advantage of Google+ Post Ads, which enable you to display Google+ posts on relevant third-party sites across the Google Display Network, i.e. on websites, not within Google search results.

These posts are fully interactive, meaning anybody logged into their Google account can give a +1, comment, or share the post without leaving the page on which it is hosted. The power of Google+ Post Ads is in their social influence compared to traditional image or video ads.

The theory is that someone is much more likely to engage with a Google+ Post "ad"  with lots of +1s and comments (that they can see people similar to them already like) than they would clicking on an ordinary website advert.

The other big benefit, of course, is that Google+ Post Ads allows people from across the web to see and interact with your Google+ content without being on the social network's website.

1. Login to your Google AdWords account and launch a new campaign.
Select ‘Display Network only’.

2. Set up your campaign as you would normally for Adwords, select ‘Engagement’ under ‘Choose a campaign type to switch to’, and save.

3. On the next page click on the +Post ad template.
On the "Select a Google+ page" menu, enter your Google+ page URL.

4. From the list of Google+ posts that appear, choose the one that you would like to promote. Click ‘Customize’ to change the settings and appearance of your ad. To maximize the impact of Google+ Post Ads use statuses with compelling images or videos, powerful content, and clear calls to action.

5. Customize the appearance of your Post Ad, then click Save.

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