Google+ has always been an enigma for most small business owners. There’s a lot less talk about Google+ compared to the big 2 social networks – Facebook and Twitter. Add in Pinterest or Instagram and it’s little wonder why Google+ fades into the background.

While most small businesses are busy building a large Facebook Like count or Twitter Follower number, there are a select few small businesses who are reaping significant benefits from using Google+ to market their business.

So before you dismiss Google+ as something you just don’t have time to look into right now, have a read of these 3 ways / reasons to use the social network that has in excess of 300 million active users (btw in 2013 Google+ officially became the the 2nd largest social network behind Facebook)

 

1. Google+ Authorship

The number 1 reason you need to be using Google+ is that it allows you to claim authorship over the content you write across the internet.

You’ve probably noticed for a while now that when you make a search on Google you sometimes see search page results like this. Notice the profile pictures next to some of the results.

 

These profile images are pulled from the author’s Google+ page under the Authorship feature that Google uses in it’s search results.

You might be asking, “Well that’s nice, but what’s so special about the profile images?”.

Having Google+ authorship can significantly increase the traffic your get from search engines. Studies have shown that having an image appear next to your website content in a Google search results page can increase clicks and attention (take a read of the study by Search Engine Journal).

Most businesses online are investing into content marketing so it makes a lot of sense to make sure that whatever content your product on your blog or when guest posting somewhere else, you want to have your profile image show up to get more clicks.

Google+ Authorship, a no brainer and something every small business should leverage. Here’s how you setup Google+ Authorship.

 

2. Google+ is your main local listing on search results

If you have a physical component to your business like a call center or service center then you absolutely must be on Google+.

Your business Google+ page is the main listing that people searching Google see when they make type in searches like “cafes nearby” or “greek restaurant in ___(insert suburb/city)___”. Here’s an example of one I tried

 

Not only does the George Street Cafe have a strong position on the search results page, they also have their full address available, a pin on the map and a star rating. That’s definitely going to catch the eye. So where does all that info come from? Well George Street Cafe’s Google+ page of course.

 

If you have a physical location that needs to be found by customers you need to be investing time into Google+. Get all your important information up there (like address, opening times etc), put lots of pictures and encourage reviews from your customers.

 

3. Effective Influencer Outreach

Google+ offers a lot of really useful ways to get in touch with influential figures in your industry.

Say for example you’re running an online jewellery store and there is a particular blogger who you think will really love your pieces. You want to get in touch and discuss how you could work together.

Google+ offers a great avenue for doing this because it’s a lot easier to get someone’s attention. The reason for this is that notifications via Google+ show up quite prominently even when people are just checking their Gmail inbox.

 

There are a number of ways to get the attention of an influencer via these notifications. Here is a list of different methods

  • Mention them in a post
  • Share a post with them directly
  • Share a post and you’re in a circle they subscribe to
  • Comment on a post they created
  • Comment on a post after they comment on it
  • Add them to a circle
  • Suggest new people to add to their circles
  • Tag them in a photo
  • Tag one of their photos
  • Suggest a profile photo for them
  • Comment on a photo after they comment on it
  • Comment on a photo they are tagged in
  • Comment on a photo they tagged
  • Start a conversation with them
  • Send them an invitation or update an event
  • Remind them about events
  • Any activity on events they created

The idea is to warm up the influencer by consistently getting their attention over a period of time. Once they get familiar with you it’s a lot easier to strike up an introduction and get the conversation going.

But wait there’s more
Another thing that has just been released this week is that you can now contact people on Google+ even if you don’t have their email address.

Normally if you wanted to drop a more detailed message to an influencer you would need to do it via email, thus beginning the long hunt for their email address.

Now with Google+ you can message a person you’ve connected with on Google+ without their email address.

If that influencer hasn’t added you to their circles (that’s Google+ version of being friends on Facebook) you can still message them but it will move to a separate section. Read all the details of the new Google+ communications feature.

 

Next steps?

If you haven’t already the first thing you need to do is setup your Google+ profile with all your important information. First step is log into your Google Account and go to Google+. Don’t forget to setup a Google+ business page as well.

Once you’ve got those done try and dedicate some time, even if it’s 2 hours a week, to learning more about Google+ and how you can use to market your business better.