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

How B2B Companies Can Use Google +1 for Recommendations

Google just announced the +1 feature to bring social recommendations to search. The initial presentation of the button is that it gives people the ability to endorse search results, and share that with their networks. The problem with that idea is that people are unlikely to recommend a search result without clicking through to the page. But the real idea behind the +1 button is that it will be incorporated on web pages and blog posts across the web (see it live to the left), and when people in your social network +1 things on the web, they will show up in your search results.

If this sounds like the Facebook Like button, that’s correct, but there is more power in this feature if it is adopted. Instead of updating a Facebook profile one time or leaving a trail of likes on sites across the web, the Google +1 shows up when people are looking for information using search. The +1 is meant to be an additional cue to get users to click on search results. These recommendations will also be incorporated into Google’s search algorithm, thereby strengthening the power of personalized search results over pages optimized for all.

Google has continued to struggle with social networking because they have tried to add social components to existing Google properties, but the success of these has been limited by their lack of access to a user’s true social network. In the B2B world, people focus on building strong LinkedIn networks that they can leverage for business recommendations. How would you like to incorporate that network into your search results? If people in your network start using the +1 feature on pages and posts, you can follow the steps below to get more value from search results. As an experiment, click the +1 button above. We’ll see how many +1s we can get and determine how it shows up in search.

Google lists the following as sources for +1 endorsements:

  • People in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list
  • People in your My Contacts group in Google Contacts
  • People you’re following in Google Reader and Google Buzz

As I noted above, these are not the sources that most people would consider their network of business professionals. Additionally, the Google world is based on a Google profile and Gmail, which are not necessarily where people in B2B companies maintain their contacts. Google does offer that to include people’s +1 recommendations into your search results, add them into the one of the above categories. And this is where you can thank LinkedIn for offering the ability to export your contacts. Follow these steps to bring your LinkedIn contacts to your Google contacts, where they can influence and improve search results for B2B products and services.

1. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/connections.

2. Click the link in the lower right to Export Connections and follow instructions to export for Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file).
3. Log into your primary Gmail account.
4. Click the Import Contacts in the lefthand navigation
5. Click Choose File and select the one downloaded from Linkedin.
6. Click the check box for “Also add these imported contacts to:” and choose My Contacts from the dropdown menu.

7. Click import and you are done. If people in your LinkedIn network indicate their recommendation of things by using the +1, it will now appear in your search results.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below about using Google’s +1 to improve B2B search results. Are you suffering from sharing button fatigue and having trouble deciding on which networks to share the best content?

Watch Google’s video below, but remember that the power of this lies in the second part of the idea and its implementation across the web.
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Filtering Your B2B Input for Maximum Business Output

The first thing most people do when they get to work in the morning is open up their email and sort through messages that came in overnight. There are also messages from yesterday that need to be dealt with. Next we open our Twitter client, scan through mentions, DMs, keyword searches and take a quick breeze through new tweets from your network looking for interesting links. After that it is time for a journey through your RSS reader to see what else is happening. At this point you might even open your favorite news site for an update on the world. And how long does this take? 30 minutes? An hour? Can you really afford that much time out of your day before you get to work.

In our information overloaded society, many people feel like if they don’t start their day with this review of their major inputs of information, they will miss something. I’ve been thinking about ways to handle these inputs to be more productive and not cause continued distractions throughout the day. This is not a post about tools, of which there are plenty to choose from, but about needs and approaches to filtering information. The assumptions are that you have work and personal email, manage multiple twitter accounts, an out of date RSS reader and a full workload during your workday that would benefit from fewer distractions.

Here are some categories of job functions that require different strategies for filtering information:

Content Creator
Your job requires you to blog, tweet, post to social networks, create videos.
Information Approach: Your role in your organization requires you to remain the most connected. As a content creator, you need a constant stream of information for inspiration, content to share and things to comment on. Creativity and discipline are frequently at odds, but you need to compartmentalize your day and your processes. Your morning cruise through information should include bookmarking articles for later review. By using social bookmarking, this creates additional content, as well as making it easier to find things, instead of leaving all those distracting tabs open. Set some tweets of shared items to go out through the day so you keep a constant flow of outbound information that can be supplemented with regular tweets and posting of your content. This way you can focus on creating content in the morning when most people’s energy is highest. Heads down work requires turning off email, or at least not checking it every few minutes. And make sure your colleagues respect your morning creation time. You’ll take some ribbing, but everyone will benefit from a continuous flow of good content from your organization. After your block of time is over, go back over to email and twitter feeds to see what you missed. You will find that these boundaries will allow you to have some of the most productive time during your day.

Weekly Task: Spend 30 minutes adding new Twitter followers who will add value to your stream. Consider people who retweeted you and also retweeted the same things you did. Also search for others producing content similar to yours, but in another industry, as you are always looking for new ideas and inspiration

Trend Analyst
Your job requires you to understand what is going on in your industry, synthesize it and share with others internally and externally
Information Approach: Twitter, Google and other monitoring tools can be your best friend, but you need to establish keyword searches for your company, competitors, industry terms so the bulk of your information comes to you. As you use monitoring tools, most offer free trials and you can discover which ones provide the best results in your industry. If you are in a niche industry, there are probably a small number of blogs and sites that you need to follow. Update your RSS reader so these sites are in a folder that you can check once a day. You want as much information coming to you automatically, so you can spend more time analyzing what is going on, rather than waste time looking for data.

Weekly Task: Review one or two new social media monitoring tools from this list and set up free trials to make sure you are getting the information you need.

Meeting Sitter
Your job requires you to spend a big chunk of every day in meetings
Information Approach: Meetings, typing up notes from meetings and executing plans from meetings take up all your time already, and except for the occasional check of your email on your smartphone during the meetings, you are not distracted by incoming electronic information, but you still needs ways to know the major things going in your industry. Pick a couple of the best sites in your industry and subscribe to them via email. We offer that option in the sidebar, too. And if sites don’t offer it, request it, as it is easy to set up. This way you see the headlines as subject lines to give you the top level information, and can read any article that interests you for more detail. And here is a tool I found, even though I said I wasn’t going to talk about tools, called Nutshell. You can configure emails to update you with custom Twitter feeds and searches. Here are some reviews of the site from oneforty.com, a great resource for Twitter tools with reviews.

Weekly Task: Spend a little time getting lost in the rabbit hole of social networking and watch some funny videos to make up for all those meetings.

Work Shifter
Your job requires you to manage your own time, and sometimes lots of it.
Information Approach: This is one of the hardest approaches to information overload, because if you don’t go into an office, your work-life balance can get completely out of whack. The discipline required is monumental because with a full day ahead of you, and frequently time in the evening, it’s really easy to check email, check Twitter, hop over to Facebook and see what’s up. With multiple accounts everywhere, it becomes easy to cycle through everything once, and then go back and do it again. This is where your will power has to come in and the ability to divide your day into work chunks. Focus on the tasks at hand and reward completion with a dip into Twitter. Check email sparingly. If there is a crisis, they will call. Don’t let the social networking world take advantage of your extra time. It will suck it all up. I have actually heard of someone setting his own computer to block social sites during his heads down work time to combat this. Depending on what you do, and what kinds of information you need, review the strategies above for suggestions of getting information to come to you. Even with extra time, you still need to manage the inflow of information to make you more efficient.

Weekly Task: Turn of your computer and spend time with family and friends

If this post sparked even one idea to help you manage your work flow of information, I have succeeded. Please provide more suggestions below for things that you have done to get through it all. Be right back. I need to check Twitter.