Although Google+ has over 300 million active users, many solopreneurs and small biz owners still seem to view it with skeptism and doubt. Many have the impression it’s a ghost town…that no one they know or want to interact with is using it. Others don’t relish the idea of maintaining a presence on yet another social network.
I understand the arguments (OK, the first one not so much!), but if you haven’t already, I urge you to rethink using Google+ as business development tool. Like any social network, you get out of it what you put into it. I’ve found Google+ gives you a fighting a chance to get more for your efforts.
Here’s the short list of what I’ve found professionally beneficial about Google+:
Less labor-intensive to build a following
I’ve been on G+ since Nov. 2011, and to date, 5001 people have me in their circles. Compare that to my business Facebook page which has been around since June 20, 2011 and has 289 fans and to Twitter where I’ve got 1,770 followers since Feb. 25, 2010. Up until recently, I wasn’t quite as active on G+ as I was on the other networks and still my numbers grew. Sure, social media follower counts aren’t everything, but in my case I’ve found the degree of quality interaction has risen along with my numbers. The key ALWAYS is to post content relevant to your target audience so the right people find and connect with you.
Effective at driving discovery of your content
While no one (to my knowledge) has proven that G+ directly improves search ranking, it without a doubt increases exposure of your content online through shares by others. Just as I’ve found it’s easier to build a following on Google+, I’ve also discovered the people using the network professionally generally seem more inclined than those on other networks to share good content and engage with other users.
Doesn’t penalize you for branding yourself
Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t care if your personal profile’s cover photo represents you professionally, and the folks at Google don’t mind if your photo contains more than 20% text content. My cover photo is my logo – which is almost entirely text. You can post business-related content through your personal profile with abandon. No you can’t post spammy crap without penalty, but that’s the same for any network.
Doesn’t select what it thinks you want to see
Unlike your Facebook fans, G+ users have complete control over how much or how little they want to see from you in their stream.
Google+ lets YOU decide what you want to see. It doesn’t decide for you.
Doesn’t litter your followers’ streams
G+ lets you decide if the people who circle you see everything you +1 so you can actively engage with others without flooding your followers with your activity beyond your own posts and shares.
Pro-power of Communities
Google+ Communities are kind of sort of the equivalent of Linkedin Groups. The communities enable professionals with like or complementary interests to share information and engage in conversations that matter to them. Although I haven’t embraced the professional power of Google+ Communities nearly to the degree I should be, I feel impelled to mention them to you. They are the place to be if you want to expand your industry knowledge and build business relationships.
Keep in mind, as with any other social network, you need to commit to Google+ for the long haul to get results. Social media is about building relationships, building authority in your field, and building trust. THAT’s how you effectively covert connections into customers. It takes patience. It also takes using your G+ profile in a way that will build your brand. I use mine mainly for posting about small biz, solopreneurship, marketing, social, media and freelancing…it’s got a “business casual” tone to it, but I also regularly post content that’s non-business focused (and often humorous) so people get to know me better.
Have you been missing out by avoiding Google+? There’s no better time than now to get started using it to build our brand. Just remember…Ultimately, you control how other G+ users will perceive you through the type of content you’re posting. Don’t expect to make strides professionally through G+ if your feed consists of little more than kitty photos and “JackAss” style videos.
Your turn! What successes and challenges have you experienced with using Google+ professionally?
By Dawn Mentzer
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