Social media marketing is arguably one of the toughest strategies to master as a small business owner. However, it’s also one of the most lucrative.
While some platforms are making the social media game hard to play (ahem, Facebook), Google is thankfully making it much easier with features that can make a serious improvement in boosting your business’ search engine rankings and increasing your online exposure.
Not to mention it’s an informative, fun and user-friendly platform, and with over one billion registered and 359 million active Google+ users, it’s a no-brainer that a strong Google My Business page following is something you need for your business.
Now that you’ve learned how to set up your page and fix any issues with it, here are the top tips to build your following and reap the benefits:
GMB Profile: Start With The Basics
You didn’t think you could just hit the ground running with getting people to follow you when nothing’s there, did you? Yes, just like every other social network you’ve got to lay the foundation first.
So let’s take a couple steps back before we take a step forward by teaching you how to set up your page and optimize it. A breakdown with all the tips you need on this can be found in parts 1 through 3 of our “Google My Business – Dominating Local SEO” series (part 1, part 2, part 3). So go read those posts and then make your way on back…great!
Now that you know putting in the work to optimize your page will generate traffic and views, it’s time to spark some engagement and get people following.
Learnings: You have to build a strong GMB profile before you can get users to stay. Optimizing your page and having a proper set up from the get-go will ensure success in building an engaged online community.
Personal Profile: How It Can Help Promote Your Own Brand And Business
Although you don’t need to blast every bit of personal information on social media (actually, it would be a bad thing if you did), it is important to differentiate between your personal and professional brands on social media while also utilizing them in tandem.
Mark Traphagen is a brilliant example when it comes to using a personal profile on Google+.
For example, followers of your business want to know there’s a real person behind the scenes. Show them the human side of your business and be a storyteller. The human quality behind your business’ brand is by far the biggest connector you can have with a potential customer.
On the flip side, you should also be integrating what’s going on in your business with your personal following in order to reach a larger audience and spread the word in different networks. Those who follow you personally will be some of your biggest cheerleaders for your business, so you should definitely be bringing them in to the loop.
Learnings: Having a separate presence between your personal and business pages on social media offers a better opportunity for brand reinforcement and reaching a broader audience.
Getting Started: Baby Steps For Commenting and +1
Yes, optimizing your page correctly will direct people to your page, but you’re not going to get the kind of numbers you’re looking for if you just sit around and wait.
Let them know you exist, that you’re conversational and thoughtful, and that you can provide useful insight by commenting on relevant topics to your industry or in your niche.
If you take those kinds of steps to put yourself out there, we guarantee it will be noticed. People may be passive followers at first, but the more you pop up on someone’s radar, the more familiar you become. From that point on, they are more likely to engage and take up your call to action.
Learnings: Relevant discussions, thoughtful conversations and useful advice allows you to be perceived as knowledgeable, likable and interesting. The key ingredients for someone needs to become a follower.
Join Communities: This Is Actually Fun
Rather than always commenting on other people’s content, make sure you’re starting conversations and sharing posts in places other than your page as well. Take keywords related to your business, i.e. “digital marketing,” and search for communities based on those terms.
Search for people in your industry who could be potential collaborators or sources of inspiration and guidance. Then see what communities these people frequent, and join them.
Not only will sharing content in communities greatly extend your reach, but it will also increase your credibility.
Learnings: Seek out communities and be a conversation starter by asking questions or sharing something you thought might be of interest to others in the group. And be careful not to be too self-promotional; if you provide value, others will come to check out your page.
The Perfect Post: Learn How It’s Done
People don’t want to read the same content they read everywhere else. Make your content exclusive to your Google My Business page, and as always, it needs to be valuable and compelling.
Perfect example of a professional Google+ post from iiWorks
Visually speaking, garner more attention to your post with proper formatting. Use bold titles, as this stands out not only to your audience, but to Google as well. How do you do that? Add an asterisk before the first word and after the last word in the title, i.e. *Check out this article on the SEO trends for 2015*. You should also take advantage of a concise introduction, a shortened link for a more user-friendly experience and an attention grabbing image that is high-resolution and aesthetically pleasing.
After you’ve crafted your posts, add the hash tags you would like to include to increase your presence in search findings, and decide what circles you would like your post to be visible to.
Learnings: To get your posts noticed they have to be constructed in a way that is easy to read and catches the reader’s eye. Make sure to post content that is strictly on-topic on your business page, and on your personal page you can do a mix of other things you generally like. Don’t forget that high quality, original images often say more than words – and definitely draw more attention.
Search On Google Plus: The Power of Hashtags
Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter. People looking for posts on a specific topic are going to search hashtags that may be pertinent in order to find a variety of content in one organized place.
Before you tack on a hashtag to your post, look up some of the hashtags you want to use to make sure that your content will fit in with the other posts under that category and be seen as valuable information, not misplaced information.
Learnings: Make your posts searchable through the use of hashtags, which will increase your reach. However, also be careful not to make your hashtags too obscure.
Perfect Timing: Find Out When To Post
Unfortunately, as saturated as social media has become, timing is critical in making sure your posts are seen. Do your research on when your target audience is most active on social media and when they are most likely to share content.
Review your Google+ posts’ activities
To make life easier, using scheduling tools such as Hootsuite can ensure that you don’t miss a post during an opportune window of time and gives you insightful post activity analytics.
And don’t forget: A simple “Thank you for the +1” can make somebody’s day and you may even win a new followers for your circles.
Learnings: There’s not an exclusive period of time that’s best for posting. Examine your target audience’s social media habits, what time zones they live in and alter your posting schedule so you can get maximum exposure.
Google Hangouts – Interactive and entertaining
A key feature of Google Plus is Google Hangouts.
Hangouts are much more engaging than a Twitter chat or a forum, and they’re also much more valuable from a marketing standpoint. A Hangout allows you to wholly connect with your audience by hosting an open window of time where your audience can see, hear and interact with you in real-time.
Example how to create a Google Hangout for your followers (public invitation)
Google Hangouts also has a record feature, so if anyone missed the session, you can post it later.
Learnings: Find out the most common themes of the information your target audience finds most valuable and then give them the opportunity to pick your brain or get a more in-depth lesson through a Hangout.
Get More Followers For Your Business Page
Remember how we said you have to use your personal page and your business page in tandem a few numbered points back?
Well, one of the most crucial points in connecting your personal and professional pages is asking your previous contacts and your friends to connect with your business page.
Review your business profile: How many followers and views do you have?
It seems like a common sense strategy, but you would be surprised how many people don’t take advantage of that built-in base audience you already have. Your personal connections are going to be the most agreeable people when you ask them to do something, and chances are they’ll want to support you.
Learnings: Tap in to your already-there audience and ask them to like and review your page. The interaction you get with your built-in following will help you gain exposure with those people’s followers.
Increase Google+ Awareness
Make it known that you’re on Google+ by having a badge on your website next to all our other social media icons, in your email signature and in the header of any of your newsletter correspondence.