Last summer, when Google+ launched in beta to the uber-geeky technology crowd, the industry was all a flutter.
What we didn't expect is a Skype competitor or an incredible driver of search (though that should have been obvious).
Working with clients, we always recommend they – at the very least – create a Google+ account where they can share content that drives unique visitors to their website or blog. Typically, you now see the "social network" as one of the top 10 referrers to traffic if you use it effectively and efficiently.
But what does that mean?
It turns out, there are four creative ways to use Google+ that can take advantage of video and search.
- Hangouts. It's not the end all, be all because a Hangout allows only 10 people at once, but it's a great way to create a panel discussion, an intimate webinar, instant video conferencing, training/education, live expert interviews, focus groups, or staff meetings. All you need is an Internet connection, a Google+ account, and a computer camera or web cam.
- Crowdsourcing. What if you could ask certain segments of your target audience specific questions and get real and unfiltered feedback? Google+ allows you to do this either through Hangouts (see #1) or by simply asking questions on your page and clicking "public" so it goes not only to people in your circles, but to everyone using the site. You can also target the message by clicking "add more people" and selecting specific Circles.
- Podcasting. A couple of months ago, the For Immediate Release podcast did their very first Google+ recording. The co-hosts, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, invited four guests to record with them – both audio and video – their weekly podcast. While they already have a significant following through iTunes, providing video opened up an entirely different audience segment – those who prefer to watch video.Even if you don't have a podcast set up, this is very easy to do. Just start with pushing an interview or discussion you do, via Google Hangouts, to YouTube and then strip out the audioto upload to iTunes. It's five steps and requires a converter (most are free), but it's pretty easy to do!
- Audience targeting. Oh Circles. How we love you. Now we can target specific audiences without boring everyone with all of our content. You can have friends, family, clients, colleagues, prospects, clients, competitors, and more. Just like you segment your email lists (right??), you can do the same with your connections on Google+. Now you can send specific content – promotions, giveaways, white papers, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and more – to the audiences to which each applies.It's very, very easy to create Circles (unlike other social networks). All you have to do is click on "Circles" on the left-hand side of your Google+ page, click the empty circle that reads "drop here to create a circle," name it, and drag people's blocks into the circle.Then you can begin your message targeting, which not only keeps you top-of-mind, but also nurtures warm leads who may eventually buy from you.
What do you think? Do you have other creative uses of Google+ for business?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy "Will Google+ Succeed" Is Simply The Wrong Question
Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She is the author of the PR and marketing blog Spin Sucks, the founder the professional development site for PR and marketing pros, Spin Sucks Pro, and co-author of the forthcoming Marketing In the Round.