Today we conclude our series on actions you may not be taking on social media, but might want to think about as we get ready for 2012. So far we’ve covered LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and your blog, and finally we come to the new kid on the social media block: Google+.
I know, I know. You know you really should start incorporating Google+ into your social marketing plan, but there’s a li-i-i-i-i-ttle part of you that’s just hoping it’ll go away.
And for that little part, I have some bad news: it won’t.
We’re still not sure how Google+ will fit in to the socialverse over the long term, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of its impending demise have been greatly exaggerated. So it’s time to bite the bullet and make a start.
1. Set up a profile on Google+
You know you’re going to have to do it at some point, so you might as well do it now. Fortunately, setting up your Google+ profile is a pretty straightforward affair. If you already have a Google profile (e.g., for Gmail, Google Places, Google Reader, YouTube, etc.), chances are much of your information is already entered. A little creepy, yes, but it does speed the setup process along.
2. Set up a Business Page
A few weeks ago, Google finally announced the launch of Google+ Business Pages. Again, this is a must-do that you can get done pretty quickly. Visit plus.google.com/pages/create and follow the steps in the setup wizard. As you create your page profile, remember to keep those SEO keywords in mind (Google … search … get it?).
And don’t forget to create a nice, friendly post to let the world know your business has arrived on Planet Googleplus—wouldn’t want to be driving customers to a blank page now, would we? For more in-depth instructions, I highly recommend HubSpot’s free e-book How to Use Google+ for Business.
3. Create and fill up your Circles
Just like a Facebook page with no fans, a Google+ page does you little good until you start connecting. You can begin by connecting with other business pages: gurus in your industry, complementary businesses, and yes, even competitors. You can circle all the businesses and organizations you like, although you can’t add people to your Circles until they circle you first.
Keep in mind that your Google+ Circles aren’t set in stone. You can move contacts from Circle to Circle, create new Circles, and delete old ones. So don’t stress too much over who to put where.
4. Take Hangouts for a test drive
I sincerely believe that Hangouts, Google+’s video chat capability, is the golden goose that will continue to attract people to the network. With Hangouts you can conduct a live video chat with up to 10 people, and for us business owners, the possibilities are endless. Imagine being able to create your own focus groups without anyone having to leave the comfort of their homes or offices. Or creating a mastermind group with fellow business owners. Or being face-to-face with your overseas customers for the first time.
You get the idea. To start getting comfortable with the Hangout experience, I suggest that you take it for a test drive. Go to plus.google.com/hangouts and set up a chat with anyone—your business coach, your sales team, even your mom. If you need more detailed instructions, the Google Plus Tips blog has an excellent “Starter guide for Google Hangouts.”
5. Post unique content
Remember that the idea is to get customers, prospects, and colleagues who already know you from other networks to circle you on Google+. And that means that you’d better be offering something other than what they already see on Facebook and Twitter.
So yes, that means you need to find new articles, videos, photos, and other content to link to from your Google+ Page. Some overlap is OK, but if every single post is a replica of what you’ve put out there elsewhere, fans lose their incentive to keep up with your Google+ Page.
OK, so that wraps up our take on stuff to add to your social bag of tricks in 2012. Any surprises? Did we miss anything? Leave us your feedback in the comments—we’d love to hear from you!