Needless to say, Google plus is far from being a ghost town (as some were kind enough to explain to us). By now you are surely aware that Google plus is also a far more complex form of social media that integrates Google’s popular services, making them a very powerful force for marketing. If you still do not have a Google plus business page, it’s high time you reassessed your marketing strategy.  If you need examples of good practice, spy on big brands.

Let us start with figures. Forrester Research published a survey showing that Google plus offers many more opportunities for branding, and that users engage twice as much with brands on Google plus than on Twitter, and nearly as much on Facebook.

Shareholic also released Social Referrals That Matter report answering What is our behaviour post-click, when we actually interact with a link one of our friends shared socially?. It seems that although with only more than three minutes of diving into links shared by circles, 2.54 pages view during each visit, and only 50.63 percent bounce, Google plus does drive quality traffic. According to them, it is time you invest in Google’s social network, if the engagement is what you want, and everybody needs and wants it. What may interest you even more is that YouTube drives the most engaged traffic, and we know who owns that.

Finally, there is a report from Search Engine Journal analysing the most important factors for Google Local Carousel. It is not surprising that Google considers its own factors, such as the number of +1’s on URL’s, number of +1’s on Google plus Business Page, rating score on Google plus, and number of reviews on Google plus, as one of the most important ranking factors. It is not a surprise, but it is very important information especially for small and middle sized business, and one more reason for them to create a Google plus business page.

As with any social network, one needs time to learn how to speak its language, and this is especially specific for Google plus. One of the obstacles may be the fact that Google is always adding new letters to its alphabet; however, as with any other spoken language that is bound to constant change, Google’s language has even more reasons to change given the nature of the online world. These and many other reasons are common excuses for excluding Google plus from an online business portfolio.

Simply put: Google plus provides opportunity to post links, photos, hashtags, videos, real-time events, video conferences, and rich snippets. It is fully integrated in Gmail, and Google Chrome.  Google owns YouTube. Google plus has a search engine, and there is Google Authorship as well. If this is not enough to poke your interests, and if you are still not sure why you need it, peak into why big brands use it and how they make the most out of the great opportunities that Google plus offers.

 

When words seem insufficient, opt for compelling visual content.

I am sure you know that (sometimes) a picture is worth a thousands words, so why don’t you use the power of visual content? People react to good visual content, and often do not have the time or the willingness to read. Whether you want to present your brand’s product or to share a fun and interesting content, if you engage your users with, for instance, how-to-do visual content, or a visually focused story, you will surely benefit from the larger aspect of Google’s “ecosystem.” When engaged, a user will come back; it’s as simple as that. BMW is one of the great examples of how visual content engages users.

Not many companies have marketing budgets like BMW, but you do not need their budget; as you can still create high-quality photos and videos with the many great free visual and editing softwares available online. If you’re willing to invest your time, you can learn how to send the right message with quality visual content.

 

When you know your customers, you know their desires, needs, and preferences (that is, do not treat them as +1 button).

It is hard to build followers, especially if many of them are still on Facebook or Twitter, but you do not need the same followers, you can get new ones. You need to understand your customers, because when you do, you will know how to communicate with them and how to offer different content, which they can relate to.

With Google plus it is easier to follow trends, though it can be hard to predict what will attract interactions. Nike is a good example because they focus on all products and capabilities, covering different sports, and they use motivational style to communicate.

You need to present the best content for your products that can encourage engagement, and once you do, include participation that is more direct by asking your audience for an input. Also, reward your audience with coupons or other services, or invite them to chat with a Hangout showing them the inside of your business.

The important step for building your community is the listening part. You should truly listen to what your audience is saying. For newly established business this may seem fruitless, to say the least, however, if you are new, you can still monitor what your potential audience is talking about, what they are thinking about other companies that offer products similar to yours, and how they are perceiving your industry in general. Employ your investigating skills, because with more than 300,000 million monthly users (according to the report from October last year), you will manage to find valuable information. Check on your competitors, as well.

Finally, use music. Whether you like it or not, YouTube is integrated with Google+, and this could be of great importance for your online presentation. Burberry is a great example of how to use music that fits their audience and goes along with their brand as an important engaging element. As with pictures, music can also send a specific message. You do need to engage your audience, but you need to do it in a fun way to retain their attention, so, what’s better than music?

 

When you master Google plus language, do not be afraid of controversial and provocative content.

However if you only give your viewers bland content,  you will eventually lose their interest and they will start to see you as monotonous and boring. By offering controversial content, you should empower interaction, and provoke your followers by involving them in discussion; however, you don’t want to send your audience away. Marvel is a company that uses this sort of content (from time to time). By posting the content that can be interpreted differently by different audiences, Marvel manages to keep interaction going, and to incite discussions with other readers. Choose the content that relates to your brand’s product, but only in a small manner.

Small and medium sized businesses cannot compete with big brands in terms of budget, or resources, but they can employ the same strategies other big brands use. Google plus is a world yet to be explored, however, it is proving to be the place that can enhance social presence.