An important social network that has been overlooked or ignored by all but a niche group is Google+. It remains popular with technology enthusiasts but has recently started gaining traction in the publishing world, especially amongst newspapers and online news sites. There are many features that set Google+ apart from Facebook, and these can be used to maximize opportunities in your business.
Consider all the components of your business that either influence you, or are influenced by you. These would obviously include customers, but could extend to suppliers, business partners, even key industry influences. Now assess how you can use Google+ to build a strategic network of these components in ways which will promote growth in your business, networks and relationships. This is done by creating circles in Google+ and linking these components based on their role, influence and connections.
This is just an initial stage in creating an effective Google+ network, and it is worth taking a more detailed look at how you can use Google+ to benefit you and your business:
-1- Boost Your Profile
Like any other social network, Google+ allows you to create a profile which should always be viewed as a silent company spokesperson. As soon as you create a Google+ account, complete the profile, ensuring it is professional and effectively promotes your business and services. Now begin linking any content you publish on the Internet to your Google+ profile. This content could either be to your company blog, or even articles you write for other sites as an industry expert. Instead of this content only showing an email address in future, it will now include your profile picture and a link to your Google+ profile.
-2- Use Circles Effectively
One feature that sets Google+ apart from other social networks is the ability to group people and contacts in “circles”. You are able to create as many circles as you deem necessary, and the truly amazing part is that each person or contact can be assigned to multiple circles. Once you have created your circles you can begin exploring connections; you can explore who you contacts are connected to, and who they interact with, if they are also active on Google+. This can be used to initiate new connections between yourself and other customers, suppliers or industry experts, exposing you not only to new opportunities but also to new content that you can share.
-3- Join Communities
Google+ allows members to create Communities, which can be seen as separate networks of people with similar interests. Search through these communities for any that are relevant to your business and products or services. Explore the community before joining; you want to ensure that the community is indeed relevant, and that it is active and properly moderated. You will only benefit from communities that are active and managed. Once you have found and joined relevant communities, begin participating by sharing ideas, offering expert advice, or even just posing questions to the other members. Remember though, you are there to participate and network, not to overtly sell your product or services.
-4- Create Hangouts
Hangouts is the term Google uses for group video chat in Google+, but this is not a regular video chat. Used correctly Hangouts will not only increase your exposure, but also your credibility and influence. You could use Hangouts to host a Q&A session for one or more of your products or services; live stream a new product launch; or even for an informal focus group. Hangouts can be recorded and archived, remaining accessible to potential clients indefinitely, and showing up in search results.
Now is the perfect time to begin exploring the opportunities Google+ could create. It is not simply another social network as it has many features and benefits that clearly set it apart, and you won’t see it that way anymore once you have identified how to use it to your advantage.
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