Is Google+ Right for Your Small Business?
by Caitlin Moriarity
Google+ is a relative newcomer to the social media game, but with your Google+ profile's influence on search rankings and Google+'s rapid growth, it's not an outlet you should ignore.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest – you’re probably already on multiple social media platforms, promoting your business and interacting with customers. So do you really need to get on Google+, Google’s social media platform? Aren’t you already doing enough in the social media sphere?
Ah, but despite a superficial resemblance to other social media platforms already out there, Google+ has some unique features and advantages you need to be aware of, before deciding whether Google+ is right for your small business.
Integrated with Other Google Services (That You Probably Already Use)
Google+ is integrated with your existing Google account. You probably already have one of those – for Gmail, to control your business’ listing on Google Maps and Google Place, or setting up Google AdWords campaigns. Setting up Google+ inside your existing account is simply a matter of clicking the “You+” link the upper right corner of the Google homepage, and following the instructions listed. Or go to plus.google.com directly and sign in with your Gmail address.
Open To All Comers
Google+ is an open social media platform – users don’t have to be members of Google+ to see your Google+ page. They can choose to follow you, but you don’t have to reciprocate – they see your content regardless. You can also organize your followers into lists called Circles that allow you to customize what content each Circle sees from you. You can have Circles for “Old Customers”, “New Customers”, and “Potential Customers”, and tailor the content accordingly.
Influences Search Rankings
One of the biggest advantages of Google+ gives business users over Facebook and Twitter is that your Google+ page influences where your business appears in Google search results. Google+ ties in with Google’s Search Plus Your World functionality. Users signed into Google can get personalized search results based on who they are connected to on Google+.
And there’s the “+1” feature – Google’s equivalent to a Facebook “Like”, affects how your business shows up in users’ search results. Every time a user hits “+1” on a post or page of yours, that post or page automatically gets bumped higher in search results for that user’s Circles. It’s a free way to increase your Google ranking.
But Is Your Audience There?
If you decide you like the sound of Google+ and want to give it a try, first make sure your target audience hangs out there. A 2012 study by OnlineMBA.com breaks down social media users on each of the big platforms, including Google+, by gender, age and occupation.
According to the study, 71 percent of Google+ users are male, 78 percent are between the ages of 0 and 34. Engineers are the most common occupation, followed by developers and designers. So from these current statistics, it seems that if your small business is a high tech startup, or a service provider serving the tech industry, Google+ may be a good place for you to focus your marketing efforts.
Keep in mind, though, that even if you don’t think your target demographic is currently on Google+, that could easily change soon. Google+ is still very new, as it went public just over a year ago, in September 2011. But it had already grown to 62 million users in December 2011, whereas Facebook took from its launch in 2004 to January 2008 to reach 60 million users. As of September 2012, Facebook has over 1 billion users – but Google+ has 400 million users.
Between the rapidly growing userbase, and Google+’s effect on search rankings, Google+ is probably a good bet for your small business.
© 2012 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from Attard Communications.
Caitlin Moriarity is a member of the millennial generation and a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. Visit her website at www.caitlinmoriarity.com.