4 Reasons Why Google+ is a Killer B2B Social Media Platform

Most of our B2B clients have staked a claim on Google+, but they don’t invest in it. Why? Because they consider it a ghost town. They say Google+ is irrelevant. They invest in Facebook and Twitter and (more and more) in LinkedIn. But you know what? Recent studies indicate that, while many companies were asleep at the switch, Google+ has emerged as the killer platform for B2B social media marketing.

B2B marketers need to understand these four reasons that Google+ is the next killer platform for marketing, and why it should be an important part of your B2B marketing mix.

1. Number of Active Users

According to GlobalWebIndex, Google+ now has 343 million active users, more than any other social network besides Facebook. Google+ is far ahead of Twitter, and light years ahead of LinkedIn.

Notice that qualifier: “active” users. The 343 million number is not a measure of the number of people who signed up for Google+ accounts, and who may or may not ever log on. Rather, it is a measure of the number of people actively participating on Google+. Over a very short period of time, Google+ has confounded critics and become a platform that cannot be ignored.

2. Circlecentric Marketing

Google+ circles enable you and your B2B company to market in a more intimate way to people who are following your company.

Consider this: because Google+ users can circle your company page, it means they have opted in to receive information from you without having to fill out any forms or communicate via email. That’s true on other social networks, of course, but what’s different is how you can then interact with them.

On Google+, you can do research on the person who has circled you, circle them back, and (most importantly) add that person to unique circles based on how that person fits into your target market. This means you can provide that person with highly useful and specific information, instead of just a general communication blast.

Furthermore, B2B companies can begin to interact with that individual in other, more personal ways. And this means that, in addition to creating a better communication channel, you can make those users feel like you notice and care about them. For example, by sharing that individual’s content and inviting them to private communities, private events, and private hangouts, you don’t just send them a message; you build and strengthen a relationship. And this is a cornerstone of any marketing mix.

Martin Shervington provides a more detailed description of circlecentric marketing.

3. Better Organic Search Results

In Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s upcoming book, The New Digital Age, he is quoted as saying: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

This is the clearest statement yet from Google (which tends not to be very clear) highlighting how authorship is becoming extremely relevant in search results on Google.

This essentially means that if you are posting on Google+ correctly, your content will be ranked higher than content posted elsewhere. Furthermore, because of Google+’s tight integration with the Google search engine, your posts are treated much like regular webpages (unlike posts on other social networks), and will therefore rank higher in search results.

4. Google’s Long-term Vision

Google+ is a social destination and a social layer across all Google properties. The integration they have made is breathtaking. It places a social layer upon:

  • Gmail
  • Google Maps and Local
  • Google Now
  • Android
  • Google Wallet
  • Google Offers
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Search
  • Google Adwords
  • Google Calendar and Events
  • Google Play
  • YouTube

What Google is really saying is that “Google+ is Google.” And this integration will only go deeper and become stronger over time.

It’s no secret that Google’s business model is to sell advertising. There’s nothing wrong with that and, in fact, their strategy is a brilliant one. Google wants to provide more and more relevant search results to users, so users will do more searching on Google. This means advertisers get better value from Google, which means Google sells more advertising.

Google has created Google+ to be the killer platform for B2B social media marketing. What is your B2B company doing to take advantage of it?

10 Google+ Power Tips for B2B Social Media

Early adopters flocked to Google+ when it was launched last year because that is what they do. Another social network was not what they needed, but it is part of Google and worth checking out. In the past year Google+ has shown to have an effect on search results, because Google is always trying to improve their search results. Social signals has proven to be another card in that deck.

There are also active and thriving communities on Google+, but again, among small niches. Former Apple evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, has written What the Plus!: Google+ for the Rest of Us to show everyone how to build a network and community on Google+ (This book was provided by the publisher for my review). I also have a copy to give away. See the end of the post to learn how to enter.

If you are looking for an in-depth guide to using the platform and gaining expertise, you should check it out. The book is focused on effectively sharing content and maximizing its reach, and it doesn’t matter whether you are using a personal profile or a B2B company page to do this. Rather than go into the details, I have pulled out 10 power tips from the book to help you with your Google+ efforts for your B2B company.

Circles

1. Sharing Circles
Circles are the core of Google+ and let you control both your outbound and inbound posts. You can segment your audience into circles and share content with just a particular circle. You can also create circles around industries or events to filter posts that are coming in. One way to add value to your followers is to create a public circle of industry journalists, bloggers, influencers or trade show attendees and share it. This makes it easy for people to circle these profiles.

2. Search for Shared Circles
Rather than find individual people, you can find public circles that other people have shared. Search for “shared a circle with you” and this will return all the public circles recently shared. To reduce the number of results, or do a more targeted search, add a keyword, like B2B, marketing or an event name to your search.

Posting

3. Alert Someone by Email
If you want to share a post with someone, and they are not on Google+, you can + or @ their email address and Google+ will send the post to them. Use this sparingly. Do not mention all your customers this way on your Google+ posts, but it is a clever way to share off the platform.

4. How to Conduct a Poll
Instead of embedding a poll in a Google+, just ask a question and add comments below as the answers. Readers can +1 whichever comment is their answer. Disable comments on the post to make sure people vote rather than comment. This method of polling was started by Dain Binder.

Responding

5. Respond from Email
Because Google has integrated Google+ into so many aspects of its products, when you receive email notification of someone +mentioning you in a post in your Gmail, you can see the entire post and respond right from that email. This saves time and lets you engage with posts without too much disruption to your normal workflow.

6. Always Be Crediting
As you are building a following and audience on Google+, make sure you acknowledge the source of your discoveries. Curating content on Google+ and sharing it is an important part of what you should be doing, and it is a best practice to +mention the people, companies or sites that are the source of that information. It alerts them that you have shared their content and may provide a new connection for others. And it’s good karma.

Chrome Extensions to Improve Google+ Experience

Google+ has been designed for the Chrome browser. Additionally, any programmer can create an extension that adds functionality to the browsing experience, so you can get even more out of Google+. Here are some extensions mentioned in the book for particular tasks.

7. CircleCount
Roll over any profile or page name in Google+ to instantly see their follower history and the average number of +1′s, reshares and comments. This gives you a sense of someone’s activity and relevance to your company without having to click and leave your stream.

8. Replies and More
This extension makes it easy to reply to the author of post by making sure they see it. One click of the button +mentions them in the comment. The “and more” part of this extension provides more reach for your posts. It lets you easily share any Google+ post, yours or others, on Twitter and Facebook. You can build you audience and engagement on Google+ by letting people on other platforms know what you are doing on Google+.

9. Do Share
This extension lets you schedule your Google+ posts. If you have a global audience, or you just want to test posting on the platform at different hours of the day, you can schedule posts to both personal profiles and pages. Even if you schedule a post to go live in the middle night, try to check for comments as soon as you can. Most of the comments on a post occur within a few hours of it posting.

10. Streamified
If automatically cross-posting to multiple social platforms is your thing, this extension will automatically post what you share on Google+ on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. This helps you share valuable content on the other networks, as well as drives traffic back to Google+. Streamified can also pull your blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn streams into your Google+ profile.

Are there any other power tips about Google+ that you would share with other B2B marketers?

Win a Copy of What the Plus!

I have shared this post on the SocialMediaB2B page on Google+. To enter to win a copy of What the Plus, share that Google+ post on your Google+ profile or company page (or both). Post the link to the Google+ post in the comments below. Enter by November 1, 2012 at 11:59pm ET and a winner will be selected at random on November 2, 2012. Only one entry per Google+ profile and one per page.

3 Ways to Get B2B Social Media Value from Google+

Many B2B marketers have already been scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make use of Facebook and Twitter. Along comes Google+, another social network that the average B2B marketer just doesn’t have the time to learn and master.

There are, however, reasons to believe that Google+ will be more valuable to B2B companies than Facebook and Twitter put together. And since getting in early is a big factor in determining long-term success, B2B companies should test the waters with Google+ right now. Here are a few reasons why B2B companies, even in niches like restaurant card processing and orthondontic website design, should be using this network.

1. Google+ Has More Appeal for Business than Recreational Users

The Google+ platform resembles Facebook, but lacks the pizzazz. The overall Google+ environment — particularly in terms of features like Circles and Hangouts – has much more appeal to businesses interested in talking business, than it does to individuals interested in harvesting virtual asparagus.

Action Step: Set up a company Google+ company page, and use it as a conversation hub. Through Circles, connections can be categorized according to product, service, the nature of the business relationship. It’s completely user-defined. Circles serve as an excellent, laser-focused system for both gathering market intelligence and sharing insights. Through Hangouts, companies can host private, real time video meetings.

2. Content Associated with Google+ Is Highly Visible in Search

Not surprisingly, Google gives Google+ content favorable positioning on its search engine, which, by the way, has an 80% market share. There are two major ways a firm can strengthen its search presence through participation on the network:


Action step: Produce original content. Original content published on Google+ posts is indexed and ranked, and appears in both standard and personalized search queries. Keyword-optimized posts may achieve first-page positioning for matching search queries.


Action step: Deploy rel=author links. Google has begun to associate content with authors as well as with publishing sites, using what is called the rel=author link. If a company’s writers have personal Google+ profiles and link their content to their profiles, their content will be more widely visible.

At this stage, it is difficult to measure the impact of Google+ optimization with any precision, since Google is developing the platform rapidly and continually changing where and how content is displayed in SERPs (search engine results pages). Directionally, however, Google is giving us every indication that it intends to continue looking for ways to make Google+ content stand out in search.

3. Google+ Delivers SEO and Social Value without Participation

Let’s face it: a lot of B2B companies don’t have the bandwidth to post content and chat with business connections on social networks all day long. Yet even these firms can derive useful SEO and social marketing benefit from Google.

Social shares of content through likes and tweets increase brand awareness and generate leads. Social shares are also positive ranking factors for Google. While the Google+ share, referred to as a +1, may not be socially significant (yet), it is thought to carry more SEO weight than shares on other networks.

Google+ social shares have broader implications than many other network shares. When people +1 a firm’s content, it may become visible to their Google+ connections when they perform personalized searches, creating a social media/search ripple effect that can increase brand awareness and generate leads.

Action step: With this in mind, B2B companies can promote Google+ sharing simply by adding +1 buttons to key site pages and all blog posts, and by adding a link to the firm’s Google+ page to all site templates. Instead of proactively trying to build a Google+ community, firms can just make it easy for Google+ enthusiasts to come to them.

Time for a Strategic Social Shift?

By now, many B2B companies have had enough time to assess the value of their Facebook and Twitter marketing. If results are lacking, a shift to Google+ is a much better option than giving up on social media. For B2B marketers that have not yet taken the social marketing plunge, exploring Google+ could be the perfect first step.

Is your firm using Google+? How have the results been so far?

Just One B2B Social Media Reason for Google Plus: Search

Google just rolled out Search, Plus Your World and B2B companies need to take notice. If you have been taking a wait and see attitude, or you just don’t have the bandwidth for Google Plus, Google just changed the game and moved this to the top of your priority list.

Not another social network, you said. We are already challenged to come up with enough quality content. And learn a new platform? And see if our customers and prospects are there? Again, none of this matters anymore. Google Plus has always been about leveraging our social connections to provide better search results. But now Google is showing Google Plus results as top results in search.

It shouldn’t matter to you that Twitter is calling it “a bad day for the Internet.” Marketers need to roll with the changes that happen all the time in social media.

Lots of resources already exist online and off for learning about Google Plus, the platform, but for the time being, B2B marketers need to create personal profiles and business pages for their B2B companies. Yes, Google Plus is great for engagement because of a threaded comment system. Multiple people can manage a page (which wasn’t possible at roll-out). Circles really do allow you to segment outbound messages. There is not an ecosystem of management tools for Google Plus yet, so it will be a manual process to share content on the platform.

But for now. Get on there and start sharing content. Want to drive traffic to your blogs? Need more downloads for your ebooks and white papers? Share links on Google Plus. Prospects still find their way to your site and your content by search, and Google is giving B2B marketers another tool to help with that.

This really should be at the top of today’s to do list for B2B companies. Circle Social Media B2B on Google Plus while you are there.

Google+ Pages for B2B Companies

Google+ has released their business pages and now B2B marketers need to understand why they need to join Google’s social network. The biggest reason is search. You may have heard about social search and how your connections influence your search results, well, Google+ does more of that. Share your content on Google+ and it has a better chance of showing up higher in search results.

If you jumped into Google+ when personal pages came out and you understand how the platform works, you know what kinds of posts resonate and how important engagement is to the platform, you should absolutely create a Google+ page for your B2B company today. If you are not familiar with Google+, you need to create a personal page and get started understanding it. Create your business page too, so you can start learning about how to use it effectively.

A Google+ Business Page is tied to ONE Gmail account and you cannot add other administrators at this time. Make sure you assign the right person to create your page, because they will be the only one who manages it until they roll out multiple admin support (which is expected). One way to address this is to use a company Gmail account, so multiple people can log in to the page. I did come across a reference to giving someone access to a page, but was unable to find details. I will update this as it changes.

11/11/11 Update: Google is discouraging people from creating a new company Gmail. They would rather people create a Business Page with their personal Gmail account, knowing that multi-account management is coming this quarter.

How to Create a Google+ Page

Go to the Business Pages Site and click Create Your Google+ Page.

Choose company, select your category and enter your information into the fields provided. Since this is brand new, there is not an obvious to edit this after it is created.

Google reminds users of the importance of including a web link on their Google+ Page.

Another huge benefit of Google+ is that it is the first social network that allows you to segment your customers, prospects, partners and even vertical industries into Circles so you can publish targeted messages to them. These sample Circles remind users of this important function.

Google wants to make sure you know what to do now that you have created the page, so they offer some suggestions, as well as easy ways to promote your page.

And just to show that the best way to learn is by doing, I created a page for Social Media B2B. Circle us to learn more about Google+ as we learn more.

Remember as you are learning about using Google+ and developing a content calendar, there are no tools that currently let you manage your pages. This means that publishing and engaging will be manual, at least for the time being. Make sure you have the resources to keep up with your plans.

Here are some examples of B2B Google+ Pages. Add yours in the comments below, especially if you have started one for a non-technical B2B company.
Argyle Social
Dell
Hubspot
Intel
Radian6
Salesforce.com

Thoughts about Google Plus to Inspire B2B Adoption

As a preview to its launch of Google Plus last week, Google launched the +1 button last month. In my post at the time, I wrote that one of the biggest problems for the use of the recommendation button for B2B companies was its reliance on people’s Google network, not their professional network. This network exists in their work email and LinkedIn network. I offered a suggestion to bring business network relevance to the search benefit of +1. With the new Google Plus social network, Google already provides a connection to your LinkedIn network as part of your social graph.

From a business perspective, it is still too early to use Google Plus, but you can already start thinking about the benefits and how you will use it for your B2B company. Google has announced that there will be business specific functions coming, but for now Google Plus is based on personal profiles. The following articles provide some context for your inspiration, rather than explain the platform. So many articles have been written and shared in the past week, that I figured if you were interested, you have already read them and are aware of the details.

Remember that at its heart, Google Plus is about tying social to search so Google can provide you better search results based on your social graph. Jay Baer’s post on Convince & Convert below does a great job explaining why this is so important to Google. If you have thoughts about how you can use Google Plus for your B2B company, let us know in the comments below.

The Google Plus 50
from Chris Brogan
If you’re curious about Google+, the new social network platform from Google, you’re not alone. I’ve logged several hours already on the platform, experimenting, testing, and observing. It sparks my attention from several angles: marketing, technology, community, media, mobile, advertising, and more. To that end, I wrote down 50 things to think about with regards to Google+, in no particular order.
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Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus
from Convince & Convert
My initial, abbreviated take is that Google’s new social toy is essentially a Facebook Twitter hybrid with outstanding ease-of-use and eye-popping potential. In the very first release, Plus has a killer integration with Picasa (Google’s photo service), and its live video chat feature (called Hangout) could very easily become a Skype killer. The most obvious and ballyhooed functionality is the Circles paradigm, which puts segmenting your contacts front-and-center and makes it an easy process via drag and drop controls.
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Why Google+ Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Facebook
from Social Media Today
So by now, you’ve likely heard Google+ is coming to an internet near you. You may have taken a look at the demo, or gotten an early invitation, you might think this could usher in the next generation of social networking. And you might be right. I’ll admit, I’m anxious to see if Google’s actually gotten it right this time.
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How to measure Google Plus with analytics
from Christopher S. Penn
Right now, Google Plus (hereafter lazily abbreviated as G+) is in its infancy. That said, it’s certainly got the buzz and the shine that social media folks have been craving for some time. It’s got the ease of Facebook plus the asymmetric relationship nature of Twitter. As a result, expect marketers to flock there in droves as they get invited. Shortly after their arrival and spamming of their friends, the inevitable question will be asked:

How do you measure this thing?
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Google+ Invites
from sbdc blog
Traditionally, invites have been handled via a company giving out a set number of invites to beta users who then decide who to send those invites to. But with Google+, they are doing something different. Rather than giving beta users a set number of invites, they are systemwide making invites an option or not. They are turning on the invite/sign up process when they want to add to the userbase, and then turning it off when they think they have enough people.
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