Social Networking Tools for Businesses

The social media explosion has caused businesses all over the globe to re-imagine what branding and marketing look like in a digital world. While this has been a step in the right direction for the global business community, social media marketing comes with its own set of challenges. For starters, each social network has its own language and boundaries. First off, there are the obvious content barriers that are embedded into both Facebook and Twitter. Still, it seems that the gap between Twitter and Facebook is shallow when compared to the nebulous black hole known as Google+. With this in mind, the big question surrounding Google’s burgeoning social network is: So, now what?

Google+ vs. Everyone Else

To date, the social network is described as the world’s largest ghost town. With over 170 million users, some are wondering if people are actually staying engaged with the network. To bring this home, just think of when your last Google Plus login was. Can’t remember, can you? You’re not the only one, and that’s a problem Google needs to fix quickly if it plans on being a real contender in the social media space.

Fortunately, for Google+ this isn’t the whole story. The fact of the matter is that it is still among the fastest growing social networks in history. With over 170 million users and counting, Google+ is a prime target for Web marketers. Its attractiveness is directly related to how it stands out from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. In order for Web marketing professionals and businesses to really hone in on the Google+ market, they must understand three key elements of the social network.

1. Google+ Speaks a Different Language – The types of messages used between Twitter and Facebook are actually pretty interchangeable. The tone is often fun, whimsical and even snarky at times. When considering content for Google Plus, it’s important to consider the roots of Google. At the core of Google’s business model is information. Google+ is more about useful information than about entertainment.

2. Deep Google Search Integration – A controversial element of the Google+ social network is its deep integration with Google search. With the new feature called “Search Plus Your World” search can be customized to fit the specific interests of a specific Google+ user. The real controversy comes with the fact that the +1 button – Google’s equivalent of the Facebook’s “like” button – serves a similar function to a backlink. That is, increased Google+ activity on certain content pages could boost the content’s ranking on the Google search engine. No matter how you slice it, this is potentially great news for businesses and marketers alike.

3. The Users Are Different – The Google+ demographic isn’t necessarily as wide as other social networks. To date, the bulk of Google+ users are male professionals. In fact, many professionals use their profiles as a means to network with other professionals within their field.

Google+ For Business & How to Use It

One of the latest developments over at Google+ is the unveiling of their business page platform. Setting up a page is easy enough. The folks over at Rackspace put together a neat little video on their Google Plus page to demonstrate just how easy it is. Spoiler alert: you can set up your page in a matter of minutes. Many businesses are eagerly anticipating an influx in user engagement. Here are three major ways businesses can prepare:

· Optimizing Circles – Using circles isn’t only about properly segmenting potential fans of your business. Properly using keywords in your circles segments can also boost your search ranking in Google. Using the circles feature also gives you power to create compelling content for specific groups of users. Theoretically, this will translate to more effective marketing messages for businesses.

· Optimizing Your Business Profile – The worst Google+ profiles are overly complicated. The key to optimizing your profile is to keep it simple. Also, it’s important to use targeted keywords in the About section of your profile.

· Creating Compelling Content – This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many companies fail to realize how important good content is to a marketing strategy. In the case of Google+ – and just about any other social network for that matter – users respond to visually compelling messages.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that Google+ was built for users. It wasn’t necessarily built for businesses and marketers. The big idea is that as Google+ evolves, relevant search will improve, and Google will have a deeper connection with users. Any business or marketer should approach marketing within this same framework.

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