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How to Market Your Business with Google+

Now that Google+ is boasting 20 million users, developers are gearing up for their next phase of the new social network: businesses.  Read on to see how you can use Google’s new social network to increase your sales!

For those of you who still haven’t gotten your invitation to Google+ and are therefore utterly confused by the concept of Google’s own social network, check out the Business Insider Guide to Google+ to learn how you can set up your own personal profile.

But how does the new Google social network function differently than others?  An article implying that Google+ is a social media game-changer notes that Google+ allows users to maintain a small, close circle of friends who share information regularly as well as a larger network.  This means that businesses will no longer be able to send mass messages through a few users, destroying the potential for a single post to go viral.  Because of the importance Google+ places on users’ inner circle, businesses will be forced to work harder to create and keep up lasting relationships with customers while still trying to attract new customers from the broad network.

A Business Insider article previewing the business version of Google+ to debut later this year highlights some of the business-optimized changes to come.  The business-optimized version of Google+ will include rich analytics, and it will instantly connect to Google business apps like AdWords (check out our Yesware blog post about Google Apps to learn more). Google+ is currently ad-less to collect  more information about users’ interests, but intends to tie Google+ into advertising in an effort to steal some attention from Facebook and maintain Google ad budgets.

These new ads could be used to encourage users to add a brand or product to their Google+ Circles, allowing the company to communicate with them directly on the news feed.  Google is working to integrate Google+ for businesses and their other tools including Offers, much like the popular GroupOn, which will advertise a daily deals service.  This system aims to target consumers with Offers from the companies they have added to their Circle.  A PC World article suggests that companies could achieve this large consumer following on Google+ by offering deals and freebies for adding their brand to their Circle.  Google+ is changing social media by allowing users to impose sharing boundaries, good for users, bad for businesses.  Companies will have to invest more time in individual marketing in order to reach through the Google+ boundaries to their consumers.

What does this mean for you?

Sales reps can add current customers, possible leads, and old customers to specific circles on Google+.  Reps can then send each Circle business articles, company service or product updates, and promotional marketing materials that are pertinent to their relationship with them.  Google+ allows you to integrate your personal and professional lives.  By connecting to customers on a social network you are creating a personal relationship with them outside of your company website or professional communication like phone and email that may be personalized enough to close the deal.

An article about “Why Google+ Business Profiles Will Trump Facebook Pages” lists features pertinent to businesses Google+ has that Facebook does not.  Search will allow businesses with Google+ business pages to stream information live and appear organically in a user’s search query.  Integration of Apps and other Google products into the social network platform of Google+ will provide companies with a more enriched web presence.  E-commerce within Google is growing.  Google+ could combine Google Checkout and Products search enabling companies to link the payment system to its product database within Google.  Advertising and analytics have always been an important part of Google for businesses including AdWords, AdSense, and Google Analytics to reach and track a larger audience than Facebook pages.  Mapping Tie-ins like Google Places could allow users to interact directly with companies’ Google+ Profiles that they find through Maps search results.

Google recently released a video featuring Product Manager Christian Oestlien detailing the company’s plans to release an optimized version of Google+ for businesses.  Currently Google is focused on creating the consumer experience in Google+, so they caution businesses against creating consumer profiles for business identity just yet.  Google will be testing their new Google+ Business Profiles with a small group of companies to monitor how the interact with consumers via circles, stream, hangouts, and Google offers a link for businesses who want to be a part of this testing period.  After the business test period, Oestlien said they hope to have Google+ business profiles open to everyone within the next few months.

Of course there were businesses who chose to jump into Google+ without Google’s permission, brands will follow their customers to social media.  “Google is Blasting Business Profiles from Google+” states that Google has started removing profile pages set up by businesses, not users.  Google has already replaced pages like SearchEngineLand and Sesame Street with 404 errors.  Google may leave some of the business profiles running to monitor how businesses and consumers interact in the Google+ interface including Ford, Breaking news, and Mashable.

As SEO-conscious sales managers you may be wondering “How Google+ Will Affect SEO for Your Website”, and while the answer is still unclear, there are theories circulating.  Google+ uses Sparks as a personalized content aggregator so users can pick topics to have streamed to their profiles.  How exactly businesses can get their content ranked into Sparks is still uncertain.  Public posts and comments made on these posts within Google+ will be indexed through Google and made available in search results.  Google has not shared how it will rank content, however, but it can be understood that actual Google+ users will take part in content ranking and sharing as opposed to programs that search for links and keywords.  Businesses must understand that Google is tending toward the trend of relationship-centric social networking as opposed to strictly content.

Still interested in Google+ and want
to learn more about using it?  Check out Mashable’s Guide.

Share your Google+ experience with us in the comments!