No one would argue that the primary reason we must use Google Plus is because Google has tied using it into where your site may rank in the Google search engine. No other social network can compel participation in that way.
Profiles, Pages, Circles, Communities - very confusing. The video above explains the new changes as of December 2012 and how they benefit small business.
Google Plus Drawbacks
That said, there is a major drawback to Google+ and that is they do not aggregate shares and comments. That severely limits the benefits of using it because discussions are splintered in so many pieces.
How many do you really think are going to search for and comment
in more than one instance of your content being shared on G+?
There are other obstacles to participating on Google Plus. For example:
Google Plus Usability Issues
There are too many different ways content gets shared with different sets of people. Here's an example. I do follow Mark Traphagen who is a passionate Google Plus expert. I can see this discussion and get to the post where Mark is seeking Google + influencers, and I can reshare it, but I can not comment in it at G+.
Why? Maybe I'm not in that community? But then if I'm not why can I see their discussions? Because I am in Mark's circles?
Sometimes I can share - other times I can't share what I see and comment in, but I can search for the original source and share from there. Maybe if you don't have expectations of consistency this type of inconsistent usability doesn't bother you, but I find it a strong disincentive to use G+ (and Facebook which is even worse).
Social networks should be easy to use, consistent, and NOT work.
If your head hurts trying to figure them out they are losing users.
Google Plus Strategy
It is obvious that we need to be active on G+ but the question is what is the best way to make using it worthwhile? These tips come from Google Plus for Business Expert Mark Traphagen who writes a monthly Google Plus column on Neal Schaffer's Windmill Marketing.
I think it comes down to just like in real life. You have to organize and prioritize. In a reply to your comment on my Windmill post, I used an analogy of Google as a library, and I'll reapply it here.
If you walk into a library, it's just as overwhelming as a social network like Google+. You have to use the available tools to narrow down to what is most likely of interest to you.
I long ago gave up trying to see everything in a social network. I'm very selective about who I add to circles here, and every once in a while I go through and trim out anyone who isn't adding value to my experience here.
I've also been using the circle stream filters to improve my experience. If you haven't noticed, if you switch the home page view to any of your circles, using the tabs at the top of the stream, there is a slider at upper right. This adjusts how much of each circle you see in your default Home view.
When I started on G+ I put people in circles by topics, but that proved ridiculous. I might have put someone in a Social Media Marketing circle because they post good stuff on that topic, but if I go to that circle I'm also going to see everything else they post, so it's not really a SMM circle. Communities solved that problem for me; I join the communities with the best experts and discussions on the topics that interest me.
Now I'm in the process of paring all my circles down to just a few. I'll still have a few category circles, like "Family," but for most people, I'm going to put them in five circles, corresponding to how much I care about seeing what they post. Each circle will correspond to one of the five positions on the slider, where I'll set that circle. I think this will give me a better filtered experience on my home page.Google
And I never add Shared Circles unless I really trust the person who curated them and they aren't very large 😉
As for Communities, I try not to join too many, and be selective about the ones I do join. I take some time to look before joining. Are there good discussions happening regularly? Are there a lot of spam posts the mods aren't cleaning out? Are a good number of the members participating?
These posts by Mark will get you started on Google Plus:
- Your Google Plus Network Is More Powerful Than You Know
- Google Plus Hangouts for Business: Customer Contact on Steroids
- Build Your Google Plus Page Following with Topical Pages
- How to Build Search Engine Ranking Power with a Google Plus Brand Page
- New Features That Make Google+ a No Brainer for Business Marketing
- How to Create Google+ Posts That Get Read, +1ed, and Re-Shared
- Three Ways to Use a Personal Google+ Profile to Build Your Business
- Grow Your Google+ Business Page with the Power of Sharing
- The First 5 Things You Should Do With Your Google+ Business Page
Be sure to circle Mark on Google+ as he shares tips there as well as in his monthly column. You can follow him on Twitter
Hubspot Google Plus Resources
Hubspot has some of the very best resources for small businesses, and many resources for Google Plus:
- Google+ Finally Rolling Out Custom URLs for Pages and Profiles
- Free Guide: How to Use Google+ for Business
- How to Optimize Your Google+ Business Page [Free Ebook!]
- Google+ Local Replaces Google Places: What Local Businesses
- 4 Critical Ways Google+ Is Changing Search
- How To Track Google +1 and Facebook “Like Button” Clicks
Google Plus How-to Videos
Extended Tutorial of How To Use Google+ For Business Webinar by Chris Abraham:
This post will be updated with the best Google Plus strategies, how-tos and videos as I come across them.
If you use Google + and have strategies that work for you,
do please share them in the comments.
If you know of other posts that will benefit those trying to maximize the benefit of being active on G+ do please share them as well. Relevant links will be approved.