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What Businesses & Brands Can Use Google Plus Pages For Now

Initially, when I was pulling a Google+ presentation together for PubCon last week, branded business pages were not “allowed” at the time. However, the features businesses can use to increase traffic and grow a following on Google Plus are pretty much the same as before branded pages were launched.

For the record, this is not a how to create your business page on Google+ tutorial, Danny Sullivan already covered that last week.  This is about using the Google+ features as business tools, and capturing an audience to supplement what you already do on other social networks.

Think About Monitoring Your Brand Using Sparks

If you are still trying to figure out what Sparks is useful for, it is trending content found elsewhere on the Web. You can use Sparks to your advantage, as this can be inspiration for blog post ideas, used for commenting on popular news items, or simply monitoring content on the Web about your site.

You can see who is referring back to you, or other other mentions. This is what your biggest fans and employees may have already done. Think of it as an extended monitoring tool.

Think About Your Google+ Profile

Just like when branded URLs were released in Facebook, there may be a mad rush to secure popular brand names. But it’s likely that Google will be monitoring this closely, so use your real business name.

Think of how you approach your Google Place listing, or other local listings. Make sure to completely fill out your profile, and use video and images.

There are three things you should know about when you create your Google+ page:

  1. A Google+ Page cannot follow someone unless he/she follows them first
  2. A branded Google+ Pages cannot mention someone unless that person follows them
  3. If someone removes a Google+ Page from his/her circles, that person is removed from the Page’s circles as well

What Not To Do With Google+ For Businesses

Of course the first thing I did when Google+ for brands launched was look for Facebook (not that there was any expectation that Facebook would be here), and couldn’t immediately tell which listing was the real Facebook:

However, this is a good representation of how claiming and verifying your brand is valuable. There are some obvious inaccurate choices in the suggestion area, but I can’t easily tell if they have an official profile or not.

Likewise, make sure the content of your Google+ page accurately represents your brand strength. For example, PBS is a national brand with popular programming that’s syndicated all over the world. Sadly, there is no video content on the PBS Google+ profile.

Amazon is a great brand – I think of Amazon, I think of books, the Kindle Fire which goes on sale today, Amazon Prime, and well, shopping. I love the tagline – Earth’s Biggest Selection.

But why are there boxes on their Google Plus brand page?

Clearly they can’t favor certain titles, but the images chosen are a bit bland. While choosing images for your Scrapbook is tough, but you can get creative by dicing up one large image of your logo, for example.

Think About Your Circles

How do you communicate with your customers now?

This is an opportunity to segment customers, potential customers, leads and other people you do business with. Some ideas include:

  • Newbies
  • Researchers
  • Loyalists
  • Big Spenders
  • Locals
  • From Away

Some of my Favorite labels by Andrew Shotland include:

  • Annoying
  • Complainers
  • Daddy Warbucks

Think About Basic Features As Business Tools

The word “Hangouts” may seem a bit too casual for business use, but they can be creatively used for promotional and outreach purposes. For example, you can use it to announce or launch new projects, have a live Q&A, and provide access to hard to reach people within your organization.

The Muppets got on this right out of the gate, offering a hangout last week leading up to the release of the movie this month. Granted, it’s The Muppets, but the key is offering accessibility. (Side note: I’m reminded of Santa Claus who used to broadcast on UStream – even his office was decorated. But that was a one way video using chat.)

There has been rumored additional business functionality based on digging into the source code, including:

  • Google Voice integration
  • Google “Meeting”
  • Document sharing
  • Whiteboard functions
  • Calendar integration
  • Ability to record meetings
  • Google+ “Wall”

(See additional sources: Marketers Root For Expanded Opportunities Represented by Google+ and from Florian Rohrweck at Stilbruch)

How Google Plus Brand Pages Will Be Used In Search

It’s changing fast. Just yesterday, it was discovered that Google+ branded pages are appearing in search results (thanks to Melanie Phung  for the tip) – and you can add a brand to circles directly from a search result page. Of course this isn’t a surprise, it was just a matter of when.

When Google+ first launched this summer like most brands, SEL jumped on the bandwagon. Within days, it was delivering 22% of all social traffic, while not cannibalizing Twitter referral traffic – the pageviews from Google+ were all supplemental traffic.

When the official branded pages were announced, on the first day the posts on Google+ and the posts on Facebook delivered the same amount of traffic to the site.

It will be exciting to watch how traffic normalizes between the big social channels and the integration with Google Analytics, but until then, the focus is developing the audience and brand using the content we have and the tools Google provides.

You can also now add Search Engine Land to your Google+ circles and keep up with us on the service.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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