Social networking for business has been steadily growing in importance since Facebook revolutionised the way we connect online and the other big players Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have tried to carve out their own space in the competitive social marketplace. However one thing we all have to face up to is that whilst most (I use most to mean over half are still in love with Facebook) regular people don’t use Google+ that much if at all and what is available in terms of engagement data is terrible for the network, it will dominate in 2013 and those of us operating websites and online businesses will be forced to use it. That’s right forced – I’m not going to dwell on that though – I’ll explain quickly why we are virtually forced (ok coerced not forced) and then move onto discussing how we can take advantage of that.
Google Can Force Us to Use Google+ – What’s More, Users Will Help Them
The first obvious step Google has taken to force adoption of Google+ by every webmaster and every copywriter who works online is through the Google Authorship programme. I’ve yet to fully embrace that, although I am busy throwing some love to Google+ by linking to my profile on there (not very active… I much prefer the discussions on LinkedIn to be honest). The programme basically gives webmasters better looking search results with author photos in exchange for using authors who have Google+ profiles. For those of you who like a good conspiracy this chap covers the way Google has manipulated this ‘advantage’ where they may not have let others do so: http://www.thegooglecache.com/white-hat-seo/why-i-am-removing-google-authorship/.
The problem with this is that now, website owners who are ahead of you and have already embraced Google+ fully are starting to refuse content from guest authors who haven’t. Many of you know that I run a landlord finance site. At a conference I was shocked to learn that a noted writer had been turned down by one site for a guest post due to not having a Google + profile as ‘accepting unknown writers to Google sent bad signals to the engine’. Now we’re talking a noted writer, active on many other social platforms not an unknown – that kind of trend will continue. You can guess what that particular lady did the next day – she got a Google+ account.
So Let’s Join Them
Google+ has a lot of new features and opportunities for us as business owners and despite feeling slightly uncomfortable with how they have forced a relatively unwanted social network on the masses we have to embrace those opportunities rather than worry about the factors we can’t change. Much like LinkedIn you now have the option to join groups that are relevant to your business and sector – for example Digital Marketing groups. This kind of professional networking feature that lets you quickly find, and connect with your peers, customers and discussions and news that you may be interested in is likely to provide similar opportunity to the similar Groups feature on LinkedIn. As noted earlier, though, I haven’t seen the same quality of discussion on Google+ as you generally see on LinkedIn but it’s nowhere near as spammy as Twitter seems to become once you get into ‘trying to network in a business context’ on there.
Another great feature of the active content promoters on Google+ is that many are fast movers who are breaking stories in your sector ahead of the bigger (slower) news outlets. If you follow a number of these fast movers you can get to adding your slant and coverage to some stories ahead of some of your rivals. It also lets you build some relationships with content promoters which you can leverage the times you are the one to move first with some news or a new product that changes your sector. All those stories from the last two years where one Tweet led to thousands of reshares, links and visitors are likely to be Google+ stories in 2013 and beyond so bearing that in mind and building your connections with content promoters now could be crucial as the network grows.
That leads me to 3 actions I intend to take in 2013 when it comes to Google+
- Share content on there more liberally
- Connect to more content promoters and groups
- Embrace authorship where appropriate on my personal sites and encourage clients to do the same where appropriate