You followed the sage advice of social media experts who told you why your business should be on Google+
, and you created a business page
for your brand.
The worst thing you could do is let your page sit idle. Google recently announced that it heavily integrates Google+ into Google search, which makes it all the more important to optimize your page and get involved on the social network.
Here are the five first things you should do with your Google+ business page:
1. Optimize your page for search engine optimization (SEO).
As I said above, one of the most powerful features of Google+ is Google's search. Perform the steps below to make your page attractive to Google's search bots.
Hint: To edit your page, select the profile view and click the "edit profile" button. Then, click in the area you want to edit.
Verify your page with Google. Unlike your Twitter handle, there can be any number of pages with the same name as yours. The good news is that Google provides a way to verify your page as your brand's official page. Verified pages have priority in search rankings over non-verified pages. This is the best way to protect your brand.
Add a carefully crafted tagline. Unless you've set up a local business page, Google+ allows you to include a tagline under your brand name. Only the first 10 words you enter will appear in the page header, and only the first 21 characters appear in the pop-up people see when they roll their mouse over your page name. Make the tagline descriptive and use your most important search keywords—e.g. "Premier lower Manhattan luxury hotel."
Write a complete introduction. Not only is your introduction important to sell your brand to visitors, it's the perfect place to build SEO. Use keywords you want associated with your brand in search, but use them sparingly and naturally. The introduction section has a rich text editor, so include links to your site using good anchor text.
Add recommended links. Use the "Recommended Links" sidebar to link to the major sections of your website. Also link to your other social media profiles, such as Twitter and Facebook. If you're a sophisticated analytics user, you might want to tag these links—and those you put in the introduction—so you can accurately track traffic from your page.
2. Upgrade your page's visual appeal.
Your profile's job description plays a large role in people's first impression of your brand. Most people will only visit your page once to determine whether they want to circle you, so do as much as possible to grab their attention.
Make creative use of the "Scrapbook" photos at the top of your profile. The most eye-catching examples use the five photos as a single banner. Here are some great examples, and here is a guide to create that effect.
Also take advantage of the rich text editor. When you're in edit mode on the introduction section of your profile, you'll see a bar with several formatting tools. You can format text in bold, italic and underline, create bulleted and numbered lists, and add anchor-text links. If your introduction is long, use bold subheadings to break it up. My agency's Google+ page is a good example of how to use these formatting tools.
3. Post high-quality content.
Before you get your first follower, I recommend you put up at least three or four posts. By default, visitors land on your posts tab first. If someone sees "XYZ Brand hasn't shared any posts yet," he or she has no motivation to circle you.
Your first posts should be superstars that show off the great, interesting content people will get if they follow you.
In your posts, use Google+'s formatting options. Even though you won't see the rich text editing bar that appeared when you edited your profile's introduction, you can still do a certain amount of formatting using special codes:
- To bold text, *put asterisks around it.*
- To italicize, _put underscores around it._
- For strikeout, -use dashes around the text.-
These are pretty rudimentary, but they are way above anything available on other social media platforms. Use them to create posts that look like blog posts.
Also, try not to post anything without at least a photo. Google+ won kudos from its early adopters—and loyalty from many of the world's top photographers—for the beautiful way it displays photos. A photo or video appropriate to your post catches the viewer's eye and makes him more likely to read your post.
4. Attract followers.
Now that you've optimized your page for search, made it visually appealing, and begun to post high-quality content, you're ready to open the doors to business. But as in any social media outlet, you can't just "build it and they will come." You have to attract early adopters and use them to build a following.
It takes a little more work to get followers on Google+ than it does on other social networks. For one thing, Google+ restricts brand pages from adding someone to their circles until that person has added the page or mentioned it in a post with a link.
Unlike Facebook, you can't create ads on Google+ to bring new people to your page—at least not yet. Try these ideas to build a following:
Promote your page on other social media channels. Post on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to let your followers know you're on Google+. Where possible, put links to your Google+ page on your other social media profile pages.
Promote your page on your website. Put a Google+ badge on your site. Google provides a tool to create a custom badge linked to your profile.
Use personal profiles to promote your page. Have employees create personal profiles on Google+ so they can regularly link to posts from your brand. Notice I said link to posts, not directly to your brand page. It's OK to post a recommendation link to your page, but the most effective way to sell your brand page is to make your content visible.
In order to expand your reach, these personal profiles should take advantage of Google+ search to find and follow people who may be interested in your brand. Unlike brand pages, personal profiles can follow anyone. If you complete your personal profile and post good content, many of the people you follow will follow you back. You will begin to build an audience.
5. Interact and engage.
Once you have a following, establish a cycle for posts and engagement.
Post new content regularly. My experience on Google+ is that you can't post too much. The early adopters on this network appear to be very ready to engage and hungry for content. Just make sure you add value.
Circle the people who circle you. When you add followers to your brand page's circles, they get a notification. This lets them know there are real people behind your brand page who will listen and interact.
Create engagers and VIP circles. When you notice someone who consistently engages with and promotes your content, put him in a special circle. He is someone you want to stroke from time to time. Share his content to encourage him to do the same for you.
Also keep a circle for any VIPs who follow you—celebrities or others who are influential on Google+. You want to cultivate relationships with them.
Regularly monitor your stream. Just as engagement is key to EdgeRank on Facebook, engagement influences your page's rank in Google and Google+ search. It's not enough to just have a profile and posts centered around good keywords. If two pages are otherwise equal in a keyword area, Google will boost the one with more Google+ reach and engagement.
Google+ business pages offer an exciting opportunity. Those who carefully build their pages and invest in posting and engagement should reap big rewards down the road.
If your brand already has a Google+ page, what works for you?
Mark Traphagen is the director of social media marketing for Virante. A version of this article originally appeared on WindmillNetworking.com.