A 'Small Business' guide to using Google Plus

A 'Small Business' guide to using Google Plus

Introduction

If you are a small business, getting started on Google+ is easy!
And it will increase your visibility on Google, helping the right people to find you and your business at the right time for them.

If you are a non-local type business, you will need to set up a page  then the links below is the place to start:

A Complete Guide to Google Pages

Google Plus Marketing Profile and Pages

This article will be useful for non-local businesses too, but Local needs a little more care and attention on the initial set up.
So…are you a ‘Local type’ business? If so, you need to make sure you set up a Local type page.

Below is a graphical guide, and you will see a load of links with extra support on each section if you need it…

neighborhoodsALL2

As you can see, at Plus Your Business we look at 3 stages:

Stage 1 Localize – click here for the full guide

Short version: got to www.google.com/business to get started!

And some more info may be of interest too:

What pages are not eligible to be Google Local Pages?

Google Pages for Businesses who ‘deliver as well’

Want to add in a delivery radius to a ‘Storefront’ Business?

How many businesses in your area are on Google Maps?

How to find the 21 digit ID of a Google+ Profile or Page

Stage 2 Optimize – click here for the full guide

Once you’ve started make sure you optimize your page, including adding your logo, an attractive cover photo, business open hours etc.

Then…

Stage 3 Socialize – click here for full guide

Your website:

1. Is it ‘socialized’ for people to share the content: https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/+1button/?hl=en

2. Is the Google+ page ‘following button’ added? https://developers.google.com/+/web/badge/

3. Check ‘Rich Snippets’ to see it is connected correctly: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

4. General business questions: Is the business ‘working’ i.e. does it help to achieve your outcomes? How many visitors per month equate to enquiries, that then convert into business?

Your Google+ Page:

Add in people from your local area, start to interact with them; post content that is of interest to people following you; know that with Google Local people can create reviews, and that you can interact with people who are engaging/reviewing/following you.

That gives you the basic set up. But as a small business, there is much more at your fingertips…

Viral marketing on Google+

If you are posting then you will want people to spread your ideas, which helps more people to know and love what you so.

You may well even build up enough ‘juice’ on a Profile or a Page to utilise the viral benefit Google+’s ‘What’s Hot and Recommended’ – this is done through consistency posting and getting 30+ shares

Share ‘back’ from a Page, through a Profile when the profile has more engagement.

Using Google hashtags and trends to increase exposure too.

Google+ communities

These are AWESOME for businesses to use both internally for projects, and to cultivate relationships with the right people.

So, private communities for intimacy – including with staff members

And public to enable engagement through them posting – needs moderation and management!

Google Hangouts

These can be used internally and with customers to connect your business to people ‘face-to-face’ that matter to you the most.
You can also look to run events, live streamed on YouTube too, that are automatically stored there and available in the future.

Full guide to hangouts here.

Google+ Express

From a Google+ Page you can ‘promote that Page’ using this service.

http://www.google.com/adwords/express/

This is the perfect way for a business with a physical location to start using Google Adwords in a very simple fashion.
You can decide how far in miles/kilometers from the location and how much budget you want to spend per day.

Google+ adwords

Google Page If you use adwords, then you add in ‘social extensions’ – i.e. link the Page to Adwords.
These can increase ‘click through rates’ on your ads.

If you don’t use adwords, then you may be missing out on using this ‘social proof’

Google Local Reviews also link to ‘social extensions’.

Test and review

ZMOT

How many ‘touch points’ have you made with your potential customers?

You want to be considering +1s, comments and shares as touches.

This makes you ‘top of mind’ when someone is looking to make a purchase decision.
Why would they choose a brand they don’t know, compared to one that has been showing them some plus love?

Additional resources on managing pages!

The Art of Managing a Google+ Brand Page

Make your Google+ Page or Profile a Destination

The more engagement you give, the more you get! Let’s now move onto some hints and tips…

Hints and Tips for Small Businesses

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Downloadable PDF

Discussion of Google+ for Small Business

Michael: Hello, and welcome to our Marketing Chat that we host every single Thursday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. I’m super excited about today’s chat because we’re talking with Martin Shervington about how to use Google+ for business.

If you’d like to join us, you can do it on Twitter by simply using #marketingchat. If you do a search for #marketingchat on Twitter right now you’ll see the discussion that’s happening there. And if you have a question for Martin, go ahead and ask that question on Twitter using #marketingchat.

If you’re watching here on YouTube and would like to engage with us, I encourage you to click on the Be Part of the Conversation link. That’s the little widget on the bottom left hand side of your screen. If you click on that, you’ll be brought into a special YouTube app where you can thumbs up things that are being said during the discussion and you can also type in questions or put in comments throughout this hangout. And we would love to hear from you in that widget. So please feel free to click on that.

Or if you prefer on Facebook, I’ll be checking in on our Facebook page, so you can post your thoughts there as well. Super excited about our guest and want to get to Martin right now. Hey Martin, thank you so much for being our guest on Marketing Chat today.

Martin: Hey, thanks for asking me Michael.

Michael: So Martin, can we start just with you sharing a little bit about yourself and also the work that you’re doing.

Martin: I run communities on Google+ under the Plus Your Business brand. So we’ve got the website Plus Your Business and then we have a slew of communities. The first one is called Bay Station, which is a public community, and then they have a series of private communities where we teach people how to use Google+ for business.

I probably ought to explain where I am, because there is inevitably going to be background noise. I’m down in Brazil at the minute working on a project. So I’m in a hotel, finding the best location for the internet connection to hold up during this time.

That’s what I’ve done for the last 2.5 years. My background is organizational psychology. I’ve got a law degree from almost 20 years. I feel old when I say that. 19 years ago when I graduated. And business as well.

And I fell in love with Google+ and just went wow! This is a cool platform. And we’ve got hangouts and other things like YouTube and Google Drive and Gmail. And I just became passionate about helping other people understand how to communicate effectively using the tools.

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Michael: So when you first heard that Google was launching a social network, what were your thoughts about Google+?

Martin: I think I arrived and I posted about 3 things and just went yeah – I don’t get it. And then I left. And then I returned on March 6, 2012.

So I was just on the middle end of the first adopters and the first generation.

And from the 6th to the 9th, I was lucky enough to get into hangouts and for people to show me what to do and time to explain it. I was like, this is different. I didn’t know this was going on. I had not a clue.

And that’s when it all started. And I made notes. And everything I learned, I made notes. And I’m a bit geeky, it turns out, with making process documents and trying to understand literally step by step what’s happening with things. So that’s one of the things I’ve continued to do for the last 2 years and 8-9 months, is breaking everything down.

So I didn’t get it is the answer. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t really connect the dots. So as soon as I did, it was just, I was down the rabbit hole. I was gone. And it’s been great. And I love it. I think it’s a wonderful platform with great people. It’s beyond the platform, which we’ll explain.

Michael: You’ve done such tremendous work and helped so many people and businesses with their work on Google+. In fact right now can you share what you’re doing, because you were sharing with me before this broadcast, why are you down in Brazil right now?

Martin: So I came down for a short job in Sao Paulo and then I decided to stay. And I came into a beach area, which is a village about 3 hours north next to the jungle, next to the ocean, and it’s called Maresias. And I turned up here. And I’ve been here. It’s a nice pleasant place just to chill out for a little bit.

And bit by bit I started to get to know more locals. And I said to them, what do you do? And it took about 3 weeks, just pottering away and doing the pleasure business. And I said, let me have a look at you on the map. And I did the research and found that a lot of people weren’t on Google maps.

Suddenly, we found 20 people that we got on the map or helped to tidy up certain things with their pages on Google+. So the project has become a case study for Plus Your Business on how to put a village on a map on Google Maps. And this is just for displays, and I’m writing the process documents for everybody, and I’ve got a couple people that speak great English and obviously Portuguese as well, which allows it to be a lot easier than if I was muddling away by myself. My Portuguese is not to be proud of. That makes it sounds as if it’s existent. It’s not. So you’ve got to have good people on the ground.

But that’s what we’re showing. We’re showing what to do in order for a business to get established, and then top of mind, how to get the reviews if they want to go social. I’ve been doing the research today, finding the research in Sao Paulo who they can be adding in and beginning to develop the relationships so that the – and this is now getting into the content about personalized search so that if they do start editing content, they have the right people engaging on it, potentially could serve this very easily in Google Search itself. So it’s one to watch. I’m enjoying it.

Michael: That is awesome, and I’m so excited to hear that you’re doing that Martin. And I’m sure you’re just providing so much value and help to these villages. And I’m excited to read this case study when you’re all done. Where will this be published, and when do you think will be published?

Martin: In the next week I’ll be publishing the first stage. So have a look at http://PlusYourBusiness.com. It will be on the blog. And then I’ll produce the full report. And it will be 3.

I’ve got 3 stages for businesses. And the first stage is localize, which is get on the map. Make sure everything’s set up properly and verified. That’s one of the main things. The next stage after that is optimize. So make sure you’ve got all the details, whether it be the hours that you’re open and the content and the things that you want to be found for and the things that you’re doing. And then the third stage is socialize.

So all of that is going to be available on the blog and just helping people. But I think what the interesting thing, and I know you’re going to have lots of questions for me around this, there’s a big question of why. And that was one of the things here. People were like why do you want to be on there? We’re a pizza place.

And actually when people pull up their mobile phones, it’s very easy to go, do you want to be found when somebody in this village or somebody from Sao Paulo types in hotel – do you want to surface? And people were like yeah. Well at the moment you’re not even on the map. So unless you’re going to be in organic search results generally, which is harder. It’s something we can cover. But if you’re a local business and you’ve got – people who would want to know and connect with you in the local area, you aren’t going to be on the map.

People are like, great, sold done. And that’s the first stage for a lot of small businesses. You’ve got to Google yourself. Find out if you’re coming up just for your own business, the name of your business. And then once you’ve done that, then start looking at Googling yourself for the things that you do. And if you are a – for example, 2 pizza shops have gone on the map here, so I use that example. You want to see if somebody puts in pizza if you come up, even if you are on the map.

You’ve got advertising as well. And it’s not just about organic local listings and search. It’s about Google Adwords, Google Adwords Express, and having local businesses that understand. It’s a very simple pay per click system. And it’s incredibly easy to set up using Google Adwords Express. And again, it gives people more options to get the right information to the right people at the right time.

Because it’s all become personalized, increasingly. This is a big thing. I don’t know if people realize the way it’s gone. The default on Google.com is private. The default used to be personalized. Actually global settings are personalized as well. But private means that potentially the people that you have in circles, the people that you’ve connected with on Google+, the content they post can appear in your search results very quickly.

If people have got you in circles on Google+, they’re connected with you, when the people search for things that relate to your subject area, your content can surface very easily. And this is a huge change.

When we talk about social SEOs, small businesses can move things into search very easily. It’s not one single spot at number one. It’s actually to do with building your network. And Google have said that. Small businesses, every business should look at having a page and building the map.

Michael: I love you just talked about social SEO and how important it can be for businesses to be followed by their target audiences. And I love what you’re doing right now and of course in Brazil your goal is to figure out how to connect them with the local audience, with people who could possibly be interested in their businesses, and really be focused on the target audience that the business is looking for. I think that’s a great approach, and I’m really excited that you’re talking about social SEO, because a lot of people don’t really talk about that.

Martin: That’s mainly what I do talk about when it comes to search because I don’t have a technical SEO background. And this has been an experiment for me to understand how content moves into search. And it’s a content marketing approach. And one of the things, and I see this here, and I know this from within the Plus Your Business, it’s about community, and having authority within that community of people that then signal to search through their engagement that this content deserves to surface in the future.

So we’ve got case studies on lots of different things that we’ve done. My blog, until I started building up Plus Your Business which was only last September, my blog had 36K unique people looking at it per month. That’s all content marketing.

Between the two, it’s still at that level. But it works. But you’ve got to put time into building the relationships, building the network. Otherwise the alternative is to look at using paid services. However, that’s later. That’s in that socialization process you decide how far you want to go. In terms of the initial stage of what’s the direct business benefit? You can be found on the map. If you’ve got a front door, that’s the first thing.

Then after that it starts to become, do you want more people to see your content, do you want to be in the search result. Let’s face it Michael. What do you want? You actually want more business.

So is this a route to get more business? Let’s step it up. Let’s take it to another aspect of Google+ and something that is that zero moment of truth. A concept that’s been around for 3-4 years. You want to be top of mind when people make a purchase decision. If you take content marketing, so people create content and videos – people don’t buy that often from that initial thing. What they buy from is the relationship they built up over time with you. And when they are about to make that purchase decision, it’s going to be you as opposed to someone else.

So Google+ allows you to build communities and connect with a community of people that are the right people for you to be in contact with that might well want what you do. And it’s about relationships.

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Michael: I think when you’re talking about relationships and building community, that’s key in Google+. And a lot of social media managers I’ve talked to have struggled in Google+, because they’ve built their profile and then posted content, but they’re not seeing any sort of engagement. And part of it is because they haven’t done the work that you’re saying, which is building the relationships, circling the influencers, starting to build that engagement.

So what counsel would you have for that small business that is listening to what you’re saying Martin and saying, he’s right. I want to be found for important search terms, especially for my local market. I want to be optimized for social SEO. And they take your advice and they begin working, read your blog posts, start to construct an optimized profile for themselves. But now they want to start using Google+ so they can be found.

What is your advice to begin to build that engagement when first starting off? And do you suggest that it be done by the business profile or a social media person working at the company?

Martin: There’s lots of bits here. It’s great chatting with you Michael. People don’t realize that we’re buddies from the social media marketing world for the last year. You talk in the right lingo for me, which is you’ve got a profile which is a person, and then you’ve got a page, which is the business.

A profile is easier to build. People relate to people easier than they relate to brands they don’t know and don’t trust already. So that’s the first thing. They are easier. However, if you’re a social media manager, then it kind of makes sense to build the brand page, otherwise you’re kind of building your own profile. And if you change companies, then what do you do? Do you just switch out the name and that business has lost the traction on that, the follower count, etc.

So a brand page can have up to 50 managers. You can have 50 managers on the connected YouTube page as well. Which means that you can share the load. You can transfer if somebody goes on holiday. You can pass it over. And if it’s a business, they’ve got to look at the page.

Now if you’re an individual who effectively is your business – if you’re a therapist or a very small business, building your profile might be the best thing. But you can’t sell your profile, so you are the thing that you’re building, which is great for personal brand building.

So you kind of go between. And you make the decision – is this something that could be sold in the future, alongside the website, the bricks and mortar business, alongside the thing? Then it has to be a brand page. So if you’re personal branding, go for profile. If it’s anything else, go for brand page.

Now, there’s a little caveat. In the first few weeks, it’s not a bad idea just to check out your profile. Google+ is here to stay. There’s been things said. I think people wanted it to go away for a while, because it’s hard work.

It’s staying. So you’ve got to look in that case, Google is a pretty big company. Google+ is Google because it feeds into Gmail, hangouts, search, YouTube, Google Drive – all of these things. Google+ is Google. So if you make a decision to invest the time, it’s not about getting a result in a day or a week or even a month. It’s actually seeing this as a way of displaying and generating trust for the business, for the brand, and building the long-term relationships. And building it with people who are authorities within the subject area as well as potentially the local businesses too. And adding value to the community.

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Engagement tips. That’s the context. The starting tips when people begin, go and +1, share other people’s content. Having made a few posts just to say what you’re about, go and put some effort in. Some brands will say we will not share other people’s posts. It’s off brands. The marketing department’s going to cry if it finds out. So you can’t use that tool.

Sharing is a tool that says I want my network to look like yours. I want you to add me back. I want you to circle me so that you potentially see my content in your stream. But you can’t use that. So what do you do? You look at the +1 and you look at comments.

The +1 moves you to top of mind potentially, or rather it introduces – it’s very clever how Google+ has done it. In the notifications area at the top, you remember who has +1’d. You see it. It has an impact on you. So when you have the brand name and the logo, and the people are consistently +1’ing your content, so when you see that logo in the future you’ve got a positive brand association.

However, you might not circle back from that. You may not feel totally connected even though you’ve got that top of mind process happening. So you comment. And you seek connection. And you seek connection with people with whom you relate and whose content you relate and who you want to be connected with.

So you look at making the connections. If somebody’s talking about a particular subject area, you go and add value to that comment thread around that, just like you would in real life. And there’s conversation there.

If you can share, sharing’s really powerful because it says I want my network to look like your network. And it means that you are aligned. Now you’ve got other tools on Google+. You’ve got events. People can connect on event threads. And it’s a form of content that is very powerful as a way of saying, I’m into this thing, you’re into this thing, and we’re having an experience here right now. You can go circle the people that are on that event thread because you assume that they’re into those things. And you can circle the host.

I did this once with a Google Plus Your Business, they had an event with InfusionSoft, which is the software that we happen to use. And I watched the event, and it was great. I went to a public Google community. They posted the event there. And I made a comment, loved your star. It was a fantastic show. Love your software. We’ve been using it for a while. Really good.

He then sends me a private message and says, I’d love to hangout. Let’s chat. We’ve had a couple of hangouts. I’ve shown him what we’re up to. And that came from connecting around the content and around the event. And that’s the kind of thing that happens. And it’s because the hangouts, which we’re going to talk about in a bit – people can go, yeah, it’s a bit like Skype.

But how often do you just ping somebody a quick message and end up in a Skype call 3-5 minutes later? It just doesn’t happen. Whereas on here, it’s just seamless. And you just feel you’re flowing through the ecosystem. And that’s not even the hangouts on air bit. And it’s just an enormous set of tools, it’s a toolbox really for building relationships.

And I think another aspect for small businesses is leaving trying to get stuff into search. Build the relationships because you value the relationships. When the time comes for people to engage on your content, you will have the people around you.

And it’s a bit like the advice I give around building communities. Don’t start to build a community straight away. Understand what’s going on here. It’s got a certain culture. It’s different to Twitter. It’s different to Facebook. And just like we’re talking about the different language, there is a different feel.

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And the people that are here – and I know you’re going to ask me about this one – have established themselves often here as the primary home. Whereas other people may decide that their home is elsewhere. And they have a bit of status. And it’s different. Maybe they don’t need that because they’ve got a good home, a good community of people around them.

Michael: Martin, I am taking furious notes, because you’re sharing so much gold right now. Because you’ve been sharing about ways brands can engage with, obviously the +1s, the shares if your brands allow shared content, definitely do that you’re saying. Definitely the commenting to engage with people. And then you’re even saying things like community and event pages are great places to find your target audience, because here they are. They’re already gathered around an event or a community. There’s your spot to be able to engage or find people.

Those are brilliant strategies that you are leveraging and offering that advice to businesses like that. What are some mistakes that you’ve seen brands make in their engagement process?

Martin: I’m going to list. Let’s start with the first one. The first one is do not check that notification box to say send an email to the circles unless you know the people want to receive that content. And I’ve followed Seth Godin since the early 2000s. And Permission Marketing was a book that took – I learned consumer behavior marketing at university. I did a joint honors degree in law and business. And Permission Marketing, that book, suddenly I was like, they didn’t teach us this. This is good.

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And I applied the same on Google+. So if you want some tips, I create opt-in, like who wants to receive notifications from me on this particular content? And this isn’t the first week for people to do, because you need to build trust and so on. If you’re a brand that’s known, you get a lot more people wanting because you get excited when somebody like TMobile and – it’s different.

But to start with, this isn’t what to do. But once you’ve got a little bit established, then you build opt-in lists, micro lists of like 100 people, maybe a little bit more, that say, yeah, I want to receive that content, that great blog post, that wonderful video series, whatever it is. I want it.

What not to do, #1, don’t rush and push your content into people’s email that haven’t asked for it. Because it can often lead to people getting muted. So that’s the first thing. And that happens a lot more by individuals than it does by brands, to be honest.

Michael: That’s huge.

Martin: It is huge. The next one is don’t share into communities without adding value to that community. And one of the ones I see is people sharing a post – and I’m going to give a tip about how to avoid a certain spammy looking thing. So people share a post on the page, and then they’ll just share direct into a community without adding any value. They’re basically just pushing their content without really caring for people there.

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Some of these communities have been established for almost 2 years. December 2012 Google+ communities launched. And people care about them. So if somebody just chucks that in, that’s likely to get moderated out. Just to be aware.

Here’s a tip. If you share the same blog post on your page or profile and you share it to multiple communities, and you do it a nice way, it’s great to be part of – and all of that. If you go into your settings, you can hide showing community posts on profiles. There’s a little checkbox. And I think you click it to hide. I think you actually take the action to do that as opposed to it being an uncheck. I think you check it.

And that means that when you go to your profile people won’t see the publicly shared other posts going to other communities. However, the big caveat, you’ve got to add value to the community when you share it. That’s the second one.

Michael: That’s great advice.

Martin: The third one I would say for brands is simply not being enough committed to the community that they are in. And I mean this, even sharing from the page. You’ve got to build up over time that +1, comment, share. Add in value when you share other people’s content. Spend time reading it. Don’t just share it.

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If you’ve got no followers and you share something, very few people are likely to see it. So a way to say to a person who’s already established – and all followers means is the potential for content to flow in their streams. That’s the best way to be looking at this.

But if you add value and you say, wow! I read your post Michael about the showcase apps on hangouts, and I agree. I think this is a great tool. People connect with you. And it almost doesn’t matter how many followers you’ve got. They go, you’re making a bit of an effort here. I understand how this works. And if we sustain this then we can form a relationship over time that’s mutually beneficial. Hey, I might well circle you, as long as the content’s reasonably aligned.

So I think building that time to build the network before you try to achieve – you get a few more visitors to your site, but you don’t sustain anything which is really solid over time, which is where you build up the followers and the relationships. Because you want people to know your brand, like your brand, and go, I’m going to share that stuff to everybody because they’re great.

I don’t want to name names. But in a good way, SEOWise are wonderful brand managers. In fact, they’ve got a guest blog coming out from Alexander from there. SEM Rush has got a post out today. You, you’re fantastic. But there are so many good people. And those are the ones to go and look at. They’re friendly. And people respond very warmly. And the culture on Google+ is so often, how can we help?

And you don’t try and sell. That’s another don’t. Don’t try and sell on platform. You can inform people something is going on. But you’ve got your website. If you want to be deep in the relationship in that way, it’s much better.

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Also, I’ve got another one, God I’ve got a whole list. Also, don’t rely on automation. Rely on automation for content distribution, wonderful. But it doesn’t help with engagement. You need a person to say thank you.

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Another one. Thank you for sharing my content. That’s awesome. I appreciate that. And you add that person into a circle. This is the engagement mechanism playing out and how relationships form.

Michael: That’s huge Martin. And I’m really glad you mentioned communities. Because I have found personally that communities have been the place where I find amazing people that are interested in the same topics. Like for instance, I just got into mountain biking. And when I post a picture of a trail on my Google+ page, I might get one +1. But if I take that same picture and share it with the mountain biking community, all of a sudden it’s 20-30 +1s and shares because those are the people that are interested in that topic.

Martin: That’s an interesting one. Once people understand the basics, a community – I feel so Seth Godin about this. Between him and Chris Brogan, they’re my marketing heroes. And Jay Baer is in there as well.

But the Seth Godin approach is like these are hives ready for communication to other people. So you drop it in and these people are all buzzing around loving the thing that you’re into. So if a brand is the mountain bike manufacturer, and they’re adding value to the community – hey, we’ve got a new model out – as opposed to we’ve got a new model out. It’s $895. Go and click this button.

It’s like, these are all the features. This is what you’re going to find. Then it adds value. And that’s great, because it means you’ve actually got a place for your content to have a leaving, breathing group of people that are waiting for that. They want that. But it’s not – you have to understand to go easy. And once you get it, you’ll see what people will respond to.

And it’s better when you go into communities. Make friends with the moderator. Know who they are, add them into circles. If that’s what you’re going to be doing. Maybe as a brand, go and +1 their content. If you can share, maybe you share. And that basically says, I’m not just here for myself. I’m not just trying to get the results for me. I’m here to add value.

Michael: So now I want to touch on something that we’re doing right now. And that’s the video hangout, which has been an amazing part, I think one of my favorite parts of Google+ is these video hangouts. You’ve already mentioned them and how valuable they are. What are some ways that you think businesses, because I don’t see – I mean I definitely see businesses using hangouts, but I’d like to see a lot more businesses using hangouts.

What would be your advice for businesses that want to start to use hangouts. Because having this personal engagement, moving it form a comment to a face to face conversation is huge for engagement. What are some things brands can do to leverage hangouts?

Martin: I move away from the social aspect of Google+ in my answer. And I think the first stage is start using them internally as a business. Start actually moving into the ecosystem and understand how this thing works, because hangouts are an aspect of this. You can invite circles of people to hangouts. That’s Google+. Unless you’ve got your circle set up, you don’t use that.

But you can just invite one person. People don’t even have to have a Google account to enter the hangout. So I think the advantage of this, we’ve all known for a long time – people say the world’s getting smaller. And travel seems a waste of time. This is a great, it’s a very immersive environment for people to connect within. And it’s free. Even with a Google Apps pen, you get 15 devices connected on a hangout at a time. It’s still $5 for a Google App. It’s not –

So the potential just to experiment with it is huge. And I think once people to go this works. This works when I connect with Joe who happened to be away and I want to catch him at the end of the day. Instead of using Skype, I’ll –

Okay, what customers could we start to meet in this particular environment? Could we set up little private calls where we invite a few people in and we demo things or show them a slide show? Or what if we started putting a hangout on air? Instead of having it just as a private hangout, we have a hangout on air and we present to people live, we have Q&A session, we have the event, and it sits on YouTube after.

And then what you find just bit by bit, it starts to expand out. Okay, YouTube and Google+ has that. Well if you have a public event or a hangout on air on YouTube and you go, that was great for that period of time, but I’d like to download that video. I’d like to take the audio version to an mp3 and put it on a podcast, on Sound Cloud. What about taking the front end to it, the back end to it, put it on a private members’ area on the website, make people feel special, make it free but make it available to those customers that are really engaged.

And suddenly you start to see how all of these bits fit together. And I think that’s one of the difficulties with Google+. People go, isn’t that the place where you just put stuff in the stream. No, it’s the whole of Google is Google+. It just happens that the concept is it’s a social layer. And the principle of circles and that +1 button on people’s websites and the Google login is spread out across the web.

And for a business, it’s coming back down to a real focus point and going okay, what am I looking to achieve? Am I either looking to achieve increased efficiency within an organization, increased leads? Do I want to create content? Hangouts on air are a great way of creating content. What is it I want to do? And then the technology is freely available to do that.

Michael: Yeah, hangouts to me have been amazing. Just from the engagement standpoint. But also the things you can do. You can share your screen. You can share slide decks, PowerPoint decks, you can basically create a webinar and not pay anything for it.

Martin: And from a collaborative point of view as well, you can bring in Google Drive and work in a document anywhere in the world altogether watching on the screen.

This is cool!

You can open up the YouTube app in the hangout and you can watch a video together. The educational possibilities – it’s just down to your imagination.

But the reason I put it back to just get in and understand the tech part of it is when you have the vision, and I can be sent to businesses and say, there’s so much you can do. And I know for some people, particularly a small business, it’s like, yeah, but I need to make sure that Joe at the end of his sales meeting is reporting back, and I’ve got the information I can then send off to the distribution team. I want to check it. Just start there.

Or the other aspect is say to your customer, join a quick hangout. We do this all the time. Within Plus Your Business, we have an academy. And let’s chat. Do we get on? Can we help you. It transcends – it sounds very grand – but it gets you out of the thread, the limitations of not being able to see facial expressions and voice tone and sharing links. There’s a side chat. People can’t see this watching. But there’s a little side chat and you can drop links in there, and people can open it up and have access to it.

You talk about the showcase app. In a hangout on air, you can use these extra functionalities. But let’s bring it back down. Do you think that having quick conversations with your team, sales team, other members of the staff who are in virtual spaces or not in the office, is that a good thing? Yes. Great. Look at hangouts. That almost is the first thing I would recommend.

Michael: I use hangouts all the time to converse with not only colleagues here at Experian but just people that work at other companies where we were working on a campaign together. And hangouts are a great way to be able to bring in a bunch of different people from different locations and have a face to face conversation. You get so much out of nonverbal communications to get feedback.

Martin: Good.

Michael: I want to ask you this earlier, and I forgot, because you were sharing so many great things about engagement and different tactics. I wanted to ask you about the circling. When a business is first starting out on Google+ and they start to find – and you mentioned going into communities and events and finding people that are the right audience for that business – being able to circle people.

Can you talk a little bit about the circling strategy? Because you can name circles different things. And what are some different circles a business might want to consider creating instead of just grouping everybody into one circle.

Martin: You definitely don’t want to group everybody into one circle. So I’m going to give a tip. That’s going to depend. Let’s go for the first thing. This is the first tip I would give. Create a circle of round about 50 people who you want them to know who you are and what you do. And have that as your influencers circle.

Then go on the home stream. It will either show the name of that circle, the people you really want to pay attention, and there’s a little dropdown where you see it there. Click into it. And you make sure that it’s on notify. So every time anyone from that circle posts, you receive a notification. When you then receive that notification, you go and you +1, comment, share those people.

So this is the circle mechanism to make sure your attention is punctuated by the right content for you.

From there, it becomes – depends on the business. I have a process that I use and I like to teach people how to do which is an engagement circle process. The more engagement that people give, the more attention I start to pay to them. And this is particularly useful in a brand page in the early days. And I move people through grades of circles. But this is getting into a circle strategy, and what I would say is don’t just throw people into circles and hope for the best. It’s not about that. It’s about building quality relationships and the circles are differentiated contact lists.

Because the next stage after that is then starting to build up opt-in circles so that you ask people, hey, would you like to receive this incredible thing that’s going to be free and you’re going to love it? People say, yes. They start to become – in fact, I’m going to give you a resource that will help enormously for brands, which I wrote for Social Media Examiner, which is How to Find Your 100 Brand Evangelists. And I’ve got other blog posts that are like 11 Ways to Build Followers on the Page.

But the process I’m describing is largely spelled out in that blog post. And I know it was very well received, because I just basically said, this is what I’ve done to build a few of the pages. And it hopefully will give step by step process. But one of them is find the influencers, start building the relationship there, and then start finding your brand evangelists. You only need 100 people, if even that, to love what you do. When they have a network, to be engaging on your content, for them to be sharing that content.

There you go! Look at this. The magic of technology! So Social Media Examiner. Michael Stelzner has just been great. Support at helping me write on their blog. Just wonderful support, mental. And the content I’ve put on that site is hopefully good instructional content for people, because their standard is so high.

So that should be a good guide.

Michael: Martin, I’m going to link to this in the about section of this YouTube video right after this broadcast ends. That way people can get to it. I’ll actually link to it in the showcase app, so that people can click to it. I’ll utilize Google+ right now to do that. That’s great. Thank you for sharing that article, because I think that’s huge about making sure you’re circling people in the right way.

And I like the way you’re thinking on it and how you move people through circles and how you’re paying attention to certain circles and getting those notifications so when they’re posting you can immediately engage and see what they’re writing. I think that’s a wonderful way to leverage it.

Martin: Can I have an extra bit in, which is what people will find is if you put the infrastructure in place – this isn’t about the relationships. This is about the system. This is about understanding how the technology works and how you. I’m going to give an example. If you have a circle of 500 people, you will not be able to notify or to send an email to that circle. It just will not happen. The algorithm will not allow at that level.

Now if you have smaller circles, it’s likely, as the trust builds – there’s actually a factor within the algorithm that allows you to increase the numbers you share to. We’ve observed this over time, or it would seem that there is. If you create your circles too large, even if they’re opt in, you scuffle yourself. So it’s knowing these sorts of things. And this is just the granule infrastructure. And there’s an enormous amount to understand. And I’ve tried to give as much in the blog post.

But when you’ve got that bit done, it just means you know what you’re doing when you build relationships. So let’s say Michael you share one of my posts, and I go, Michael has been +1’ing this and that. He seems to want his network to look like mine, and he seems to want to build the relationship. Therefore I’ll add him into a circle as maybe a new engager. And then you continue that behavior.

Okay, I’m going to move him up. That’s the relationship being reflected back into the circle groupings. But what matters is me going, I know who Michael is. I know what he’s doing. That’s interesting.

But you need to understand the mechanics of it. It isn’t about the numbers. It’s about finding those 100 people. But we’re not talking 10s of 1000s. And this is a great thing for small business, and particularly when it comes to personalized search. You can connect with people here and it doesn’t take a lot once you understand what you’re doing.

Michael: Martin, I’m so glad you’re sharing that. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about really the people you’ve engaged with and building that community of people that are going to want to interact with you. And for a business to be interested in their products and services, that’s key.

Martin: I’ll be very open. My phrase that I use in terms of the numbers is the numbers matter but they don’t.

And what it means is the numbers matter if they matter to you. And if someone goes, wow! You got that many followers? Your boss or other people get wow’d by, we got that number of followers and it’s increasing by this rate, that matters. However, the 100 relationships, they matter far more when it comes to engagement, because you can have a lot of followers on a page and there can be no engagement due to a lot of reasons. The content’s just not relatable.

So it’s understanding that the follower numbers aren’t going to give you a guarantee of the engagement. You need to build the relationships. Unless you’re a big brand, and you’re putting out content. And you’ve already got people that just want that thing because the content’s amazing.

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Michael: What do you think is one of the best Google+ features for a small business?

Martin: If you look at a small business, it’s search. Google+ and the relationship for a local page, for that pin on the map, for you to be present in the physical world and present on the virtual world and then start looking at the optimizing and looking at connecting to the right people and then looking at how personalized search works, I think that’s a really good opportunity for businesses.

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I think it does take work. But I think that when we look at why is it different to other social platforms, it’s because the platform extends out into searches. Google+ has got a search engine that indexes every post.

Every post on Google+ has its own URL. Every post is indexed by search. And it’s only able to be seen by the people that have the right to see it. So if you see a post that you and I have had a conversation privately on a thread and it’s its own URL, that could surface, and it could have my face and your face in it in search. That’s another thing for people to know. Google+ posts still have faces or logos next to them. And that’s good for a branding point of view.

And that content or that URL, these posts, are like blog posts. They’re micro-blog posts. So they have a title. They have content. They have tags. You can attach an image to it, which is really important for engagement. Think about your images. That’s really, really useful. But these surface in search.

So Google+ has got a search engine that indexes every post. You build the right network, you engage with them, you build the relationships, your content can surface to the right people at the right time. And that’s why there’s an opportunity, because Twitter doesn’t have a search engine. Facebook doesn’t have everything integrated into Bing.

And also, there’s a lot of people around who understand this process now. So helping small businesses and businesses in general has become easier as we begin to describe things more effectively. And from a social SEO, you can do things on Google+ when you build a community.

Another one of my phrases – sometimes I wish I had better phrases that were tweetable – but the community on Google+ will give you search results. And what I mean is if your content is engaged upon by people who for instance already have authority on the subject matter that relates to that blog post, they can signal to search, it’s important for people to see, not just in personalized but potentially in global results or incognito. So when you’re logged out totally.

That is how it works. So I think that understanding the search is very much related to Google+. It’s got to be a benefit to small businesses.

Michael: I think like you’re saying it’s a huge benefit for small businesses to take advantage of that so they can get ranked better for social search. I also found it really helpful just personally for my own personal search, because I circle authorities on different topics, especially for social media, because I work in social media. So you’re in my Google+ circle. You’re in another circle that gives me all the notifications of things you’re doing.

And I found it really helpful, when I’m doing a search for Google+, it’s not uncommon for your articles to come up, because I’ve circled you, and you write about Google+. And I’m clicking on your articles. I know Martin. I trust him.

Martin: Well thank you that you like the content. But I say that is right because the process is you build trust. This is the indulgent bit. It’s just great chatting with you because you let me go off on these things. But as you build trust, as a brand, other people start to go, that brand there is a really good brand. And they start to share it.

And you essentially create a reputation for the brand. Other people may not know the brand, but because you said it was good it creates reputation. Then as it surfaces in search, and particularly when you get to that point of the incognito broader spread, that content is seen as authoritative. So it’s this process of trust, reputation, and authority building.

And authority historically was an author. It was someone that published, that came along and said, you’re the best in this particular subject matter. I’m going to put you on the shelf in the library, in the bookstores, and what have you. So search is like the library. And social is very much like the news, the papers, the stuff that’s current now, even though Google surfaces later that then allows it to be searched.

In fact, I’ve got a blog post and I’ll show you. If people search for social SEO facts or evidence – this is always risky when I do this – but you might find –

Michael: I see it. It’s ranked #1.

Martin: I did this case study. There’s a video on it. And you can go and click on that post. But I just said, this is what we’ve done. This is on the Plus Your Business site. And there’s links to show how to do social SEO by community building on Google+.

So we’ve got all of these things. It’s available to be done.

Michael: Love that! I’ll make sure to also link share this in the showcase plug in and also in the about section of the YouTube video.

Martin: And I had a wonderful designer, Dustin Stout, create the branding. And this is another very useful thing with Google+. It’s a lot of personal branding.

There’s different level content. Green is the very button-clicky level one. Yellow’s very much around circles. And then the level three, for the social search, we’ve got red. So if people can find the right content on the site for them.

Michael: I love that. Great visual from Dustin. I love Dustin’s work as well. It’s awesome.

So we’re about to close up Martin. I want to ask for just a final tip that you’d have for business to leverage Google+.

Martin: I’d say the first thing is don’t be frightened. Just get started, but don’t expect that it’s going to be done in an instant. And also have faith that starting as a good time.

If people are looking at investing their time in different places, look at the next year and think about how much value you would experience in your business if you had an additional 1K-2K-3K people that are the right people finding your content as it surfaces in search or directly from engaging in circle.

That would be great. If I had 3K extra people, and it might be 10K, 100K, but whatever level you’re at, it’s going okay, I think it’s worthwhile spending the time. And that gives you a direct experience now.

But I’m going to add in some extra things Michael, even though I know you only want one thing. This is an ecosystem. This is about efficiency. Don’t just think about search. Think about how these tools can transform how you can do business. Myself and the team collaborate with so many different people on projects, it’s fast, really fast. Because there’s so little friction.

We can get things done. This is a good tip. We set up private communities for collaboration. And in fact, you go to Plus Your Business, there’s a post on there, how to set up private communities for team working. But again, use these tools. They will make your life and your business easier and better.

Michael: Martin I want to thank you so much for spending time with us today talking about using Google+ for business. Where can people learn more about you and also how can they circle you and get notifications about your posts?

Martin: Well, http://PlusYourBusiness.com is where the fun starts. There’s a free quick starter guide if people want to sign up. We’ve also got a free level one community. And I am there, and we have a number of events every week where people can come into the hangouts and experience it for themselves with guided support.

And then you’ll find me on Google+ if you just search for Martin Shervington. And I’ll be there.

I’m on Twitter. And Plus Your Business is @PlusYourBiz on Twitter. So you’ll find me about the place.

Michael: Wonderful. And I’m adding all these links right now into the showcase app so if you are watching in the YouTube plug in you’ll be able to see those. I’m also going to add all these links that Martin just referenced as well as his link to Google+ profile in the about section of this YouTube video so you can all check him out. And make sure to circle Martin there on Google+.

Martin, thank you again for chatting with us and just looking forward to following you more and learning more from you.

Martin: My pleasure Michael. Thank you.

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