If you’re a social media user, even a casual one, you have no doubt heard of Google+ (pronounced Google Plus). If you haven’t, it’s basically a social network that was supposed to compete with Facebook. It hasn’t, because nothing in the foreseeable future is going to replace Facebook, but Google+ is giving it the old college try.
If you’re not a regular social media user, you may be wondering why you should even bother with it. Hopefully you’re already using something like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, and understand the basics of social networking. If not, be sure to take some time to familiarize with at least one of these networks, because social media is going to be one of the most effective marketing channels you can tap into—it’s got the widest reach for the lowest cost (free).
But Google+ is a little more special, and is something you can benefit from even if you don’t become a power user—and it’s important for one very simple reason:
You are more likely to win Google searches if you’re on Google+.
That’s because Google looks at the person who is doing the searching to see who they’re connected to on Google+ and other networks (like Gmail), and will return results that their connections have shared. For example, let’s say you and I are connected on Google+. You do a search for small business marketing, and one of the top results is a blog post I wrote on the subject.
There are actually so many articles and blog posts about small business marketing, that I could never hope to place that high for that particular topic. But Google saw that we’re connected, and figured that if we know each other, you might be interested in what I had to say on the subject.
(You can check this out by logging out of Google and then doing the same search. My result will disappear from your page.)
So what does all this mean for you? It means one very simple thing: if you have a small business in a niche industry, you need to do two things:
1. Sign up for a Gmail account, and upload your entire professional database to Gmail.
2. Set up a Google+ account—go to Google+—and then add everyone in your new Gmail account into different Circles (or groups).
Those people who are on Google+ will receive a notification of your connection, and will hopefully add you to their circles.
Then you need to make sure you add your blog posts and articles you’ve read to your Google+ feed (you can do this if you see a +1 button on the page). As your connections search for those particular topics, any items you’ve shared will show up in their Google feed. Share your own items, and your connections will more easily find you during their searches.
And if you’re sharing good and important information, you’ll get the credit—and attention—from the people you’re trying to connect with.
About the author: Duncan Alney is the president and founder of Firebelly Marketing. He is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and photographer, and he’s working on his first social media marketing book, which will be out in late 2012. Duncan has lived on 3 continents and in 5 countries, but is proud to call Indianapolis home.