Google+ is one of the world’s largest social networks. At 170 million active users, Google+ is behind Facebook but still ahead of LinkedIn’s 150 million users. Don’t be fooled by its lower user count however: Google+ is still a power house.
Unlike Facebook, which just about everyone is on, Google+ tends to be populated by first adopters, influencers, networkers and serious professionals. While Google+ might not be the best place to get a hundred likes for the latest funny photo, it’s an absolutely fantastic place to build your brand and market your business.
Google+ also has one big advantage over other social networks: Google +1s have a big impact on search results. Google +1s don’t affect rankings globally, but do affect rankings powerfully on a user-specific basis.
That means that if you write an article about blogging and a user +1s that article, they’re much more likely to see your content ranked in the future. All your content about PPC, about social networking, about video marketing and everything else will get a huge boost because they +1ed a piece of content by you. This alone makes Google+ worth investing in.
All that said, Google+ is often misunderstood. People often don’t know understand how to use this powerful platform and as a result make mistakes. Here are ten of the most common mistakes people make and how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: A Corporate Sounding Tagline
On a Google Plus page, your tagline is really the only space you have to sell curious browsers on taking a closer look. The tagline is short, but it gives you a chance to “hook” people.
Don’t squander your tagline on a corporate sounding sound bite. Don’t use it on a cute sounding slogan. Your tagline should be something that directly hints at a benefit. It should promise a benefit and get people hooked in.
Spend some time perfecting your tagline. It’s a vital part of your page’s first impression.
Mistake #2: Not Fully Utilizing Links
One of the truly great things about Google+ is that it allows you a ton of leeway on your links. You can put almost as many links as you want. You can link from both your own “about” page as well as your brand pages.
Link to all the different resources you can. Link to all the credibility boosters you have on the web. Link to your personal site, your company website, your LinkedIn, your Facebook page and any other resources that can help boost your credibility and allow people to get to know you.
Mistake #3: Not Regularly Posting Content
Google+ revolves around content more than just about any other social network. On Facebook, it’s common for people to share all kinds of things, from photos to quotes to personal updates. On Twitter, even more so.
Google+ however revolves almost solely around content. People on Google+ expect to receive high quality content from the people in their circles, especially if it’s from someone they know in a business context.
Google+ allows you to post entire articles in an update. This makes it easy for people following you to digest your content all within the social network, without having to leave and go to an outside site.
Publish content regularly on Google+ – It’s the best way to build a relationship with your audience.
Mistake #4: Not Encouraging +1s
Getting more +1s works wonders for your business. It can make your content rank higher in Google+. It builds social proof when others see that people like your content. It helps your future content rank for that specific user.
Getting +1s isn’t something that happens on its own. A lot of people who like content will never +1 it. People are often more used to “liking” Facebook content than +1ing Google+ content.
How do you remedy this? By asking people to +1 your content. By incentivizing people to +1 your content. Make it an active mission of yours to get people to +1 your content.
Mistake #5: Poor Use of Photos
Google+ is the most powerful social network in terms of photos in the main stream. On Facebook, only thumbnails of photos can be shared. To view a larger photo, people have to click on the photo to go to the photo album.
On Twitter, it’s even worse. All photos are shrunk down into a short URL and only the URL is posted. There is no preview for the photo.
On Google+ however, you can view the whole photo right in the stream. Large photos are shrunk down to fit the stream; but even the preview is quite large.
Make sure you utilize photos in your Google+ stream. A picture can tell a thousand words.
Mistake #6: Not Enabling Direct Connect
Direct Connect is a feature that makes it easy for people to find your brand page. All they need to do is type in the “+” sign followed by your brand name in Google. For example, to find McDonalds, you’d just type in “+McDonalds.”
You won’t see any search results. Instead, you’ll be taken directly to the McDonalds brand page. This is true of both searching on Google.com, as well as through Google search bars in Chrome, Firefox and other browsers.
If you’re not enabling Direct Connect, you’re going to miss out on traffic from your highest quality users. It’s hardcore social media users (influencers) who’re most likely to use the Direct Connect feature. Make sure it’s enabled to make sure you don’t lose your most powerful followers.
Mistake #7: Not Verifying Your Page
Verifying your page with Google+ prevents anyone else from taking your brand’s name. Nobody else will be able to get a “verified” page under the same name.
Also, if you’re using Direct Connect, verifying your page will ensure that your page is the one that pops up when people type in “+” and your brand name.
Verifying your page does take a bit of effort. First, you have to post a bit of HTML code from Google+ on your website. You may also be asked to provide proof in the form of a credit card statement or utility bill.
Mistake #8: Not Segmenting Using Circles
One of Google+’s most powerful features is circles. Circles allows you to separate the different groups of people in your life, as well as the different people who follow you professionally, into different groups.
For example, you might separate your newcomers from your buyers from your “super elite” crowd. You might also have a separate circle for contributors to your business and your inner circle.
You’ll be able to post tailored content just to each of those groups. You’ll be able to make sure that everything you post is on-message for the people who’ll see them.
Mistake #9: Reposting Too Much
Google+ is all about building your personal brand. It’s about posting original content. It’s about impressing people with your content. It’s not about constantly reposting what other people are saying.
On Facebook and Twitter, sharing and retweeting is very common. On Google+, it’s less so, especially for businesses and brands. That’s not to say never to share, but the ratio should be much lower.
On Facebook, a good 20% to 30% of your content might be shares from other people. On Google+, less than 10% of your content should be shares. Focus on high quality original content, not resharing what other people posted.
Mistake #10: Overlooking Hangouts
People often underestimate just how powerful hangouts are. Hangouts allows you to connect with your friends using audio and video conferencing, completely for free. What’s incredible is how seamless the video and audio is. It’s easy to use, it’s fast and it just plain works.
Most other kinds of software on the market that can do this kind of video conferencing cost a boatload of money. Even Skype video conferencing isn’t as smooth and easy to use as Google hangouts.
You can use hangouts for classes, for impromptu gatherings for presentations or group meetings. Don’t overlook hangouts just because it’s free – It’s a robust and powerful piece of conferencing software.
These are some of the most common Google+ mistakes people make. Google+ isn’t Facebook, but it’s still one of the most influential social networks around. Develop a strong Google+ strategy and it’ll pay off in customers, in brand, in credibility and influence.