9 Ways to Utilize Google+ Communities for Branding and Marketing
Search engine and social media marketing have become essential components of any business plan in the 21st century and chances are you are already utilizing social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to market your company or your blog.
With everyone and their nephew diving headfirst into the social media marketing pool, it can seem daunting to rise above the deluge and effectively increase brand awareness, generate a following and build brand authority and trust.
Thus it has become vital that you get on the cutting-edge of the social media landscape, and take advantage of the latest developments before your competition and every other marketing imitator gets their foot in the door.
While the majority of the social marketing masses remain tethered to Facebook – and are thus at the mercy of that giant’s ever-evolving quest to satisfy their shareholders by tweaking their formulas in such a way that frustrates those that want to get the most bang for their marketing buck – savvier social media gurus are going all-in with Google Plus, betting heavily that the search behemoth’s foray into social media world will continue to progress from a so-called ghost town to a platform that rivals Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
So far it appears that these investments are paying off handsomely, as Google Plus continues to slowly introduce new features that make it easier for marketers to touch base and engage with their target audience.
One such feature recently unveiled by Google+ is already showing promising results; in early December the “communities” feature was launched and many in the social marketing realm have been raving about the ability to use this tool to engage with an audience in their specific niche.
Here are nine reasons and ways for you to also get in on the Google+ Communities gravy-train while the getting is still good:
Reach New Audiences
The goal of any marketing campaign is to reach new audiences and share your message with individuals who are interested in what you have to say and thus have a higher likelihood of being converted into customers. G+ Communities have amazing potential in this regard; they are similar to Facebook’s pages feature but are thought to be even more customizable and interactive from a brand’s point of view.
Create a Community Devoted to Your Brand
The most obvious way to utilize G+ Communities is to build a community devoted to your brand and slowly work to build up community membership and interaction with people you know have some interest in the brand and/or the product or service you provide.
Get Involved in Niche Communities
In addition to creating and cultivating a G+ Community specific to your brand, you will want to engage with a larger pool of people interested in your brand’s niche. You can do this by joining other G+ Communities relevant to your brand and by starting up new groups devoted to your niche if/when they do not already exist. As membership and interaction increases, so does the pool of your potential customers.
As a member and/or moderator of a G+ Community you will, of course, want to become a valued and respected member of said community to help build your brand’s awareness and authority in the eyes of interested parties. You will do this by offering the community your expertise and engagement, but NOT by simply “spamming” the community with your marketing messages. If you are trying to draw traffic to your own site or blog, it is appropriate to occasionally share links to your recent posts, particularly the content you feel is especially good or helpful.
…and content curation
However, the lion’s share of your community interaction ought NOT be self-promotional. You should be engaging with others in the community by commenting on their posts and offering up pearls of wisdom that is related, but not specific to, your brand. Your main focus should be on “curating” content in your related niche, sharing the stuff you find on the web that people in your niche would want to see. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule. 80% of your posts should be sharing or commenting on other people’s content, with the remaining 20% devoted to your own content and promotional material.
Once you build a reputation for offering helpful interaction and sharing valuable, non-self-promotional content, the power of the promotional posts that you do make will have a much stronger impact.
Get ahead of the competition
It is estimated that only one-third of major brands are involved in Google+, despite all the evidence that doing so provides a tremendous return on your time investment. Even fewer are taking advantage of the Communities feature. Now is the time for you to get involved and become a major player on that platform… before the competition in your niche catches on.
Interact with fellow social media marketers
You’ll find tremendous value interacting with folks not just in your particular niche, but also by becoming a member of the myriad of social media marketing communities that have sprung up on Google+. You can share insights and with other experts and learn how to best utilize Google+ and its Communities and other social media platforms. There is a lot of great discussion about social media marketing going on right now in the various communities; it behooves you to start following those experts, and soon you will become one yourself!
Feel the pulse of your communities
Once you build up your own Communities and become a player in those related to your niche, you may find that you can utilize these groups as a virtual focus group to test the effectiveness of certain messages. Moreover, by carefully tracking the activity and discussions of members of your target audience, you’ll be privy to the latest trends and developments related to your niche. You’ll be able to use this knowledge for your gain, leaving your less attuned competition in the dust.
Get SEO perks
Finally, your dominance of the Google+ platform comes with some extra perks that competitors such as Facebook and Twitter cannot offer. It has been demonstrated that getting interaction and shares of your website’s content on Google+ has a direct effect on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). By sharing your content on G+ and getting other major players to share your content, you’ll receive formidable SEO juice that can springboard your site up in the SERPs.
You may have heard of Google’s Authorship program which enables content creators to have their image appear alongside their content in the SERPs (if you aren’t utilizing this tool, now is the time to get started). It is common knowledge in the SEO world that Google is on the cusp of expanding this program and will be increasingly using AuthorRank as a search ranking criteria. Once you have your Authorship status set up and verified, you will be able to boost your AuthorRank (and thus your SERPs results) by getting shares, +1’s and other interaction in your Google+ Communities.
Guest Author: Dan Palma
Dan Palma is a technology maven, marketing guru and Star Wars nerd. His writing appears courtesy of audio visual services specialists Smart Source Rentals.
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