Build The Perfect Pinterest For Business Profile

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Gerry Mora explains how to build the perfect business profile on Pinterest . As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Use Pinterest for business as a picture-perfect addition to your digital and social media strategy. The Pinterest user base, which has recently reached 12M, continues to grow, and it has become the fourth-largest web traffic referral source behind Google, direct and Facebook. However, small businesses and enterprise software companies continue to challenge the utility of using Pinterest for business outside of promoting crafting and food to women.

Hmm. More businesses are truly becoming crafty with their use of by Pinterest for business … and I do not mean the crafty use of yarn and baskets. 25% of the Fortune Global 100 companies leverage Pinterest for business, the 3rd most popular social network in the US, because of the 98 minutes per month those users spend browsing and engaging with the platform and their brands.

This high adoption rate of using Pinterest for business is key for your company, no matter what industry you are in. The platform drives traffic to your website, blog or e-commerce site, which is key to company’s success. So, if Pinterest has the potential to drive critical traffic to your site, then plan to co-opt this native behavior to take advantage of the incremental site traffic to help increase your sales and leads!

How To Build The Perfect Pinterest For Business Profile

Before you get started with using Pinterest, you need to set up your Pinterest profile. Here’s a simple list (and blueprint) to help you build the perfect Pinterest profile for your business!

  • Your Business Profile Name. Make sure to use a keyword-conscious business name with which your customers and prospects will be familiar. Although you do not have a limit your Profile Name, there is a 37-character cut-off. If you have trouble working within the constraints, think of a using a memorable abbreviation.
  • Description Of Why You Are Using Pinterest For Business. Note why you are using Pinterest for business with a collection of keyword-conscious words. You are limited to 160 characters to be interesting and to the point with your description.
  • Business Profile Pic. Whether you upload your smiling face, a person using your product of service or just a logo, make sure to use a 160px by 160px unique graphic or photo to humanize your brand.
  • Company Website & Social Accounts. There are only three places that you can list on your Pinterest profile site that will link to your business: your website, Twitter and Facebook pages, so make sure to use them! Make sure to engage the website verification process to receive a check next to your site, adding to your company’s legitimacy.
  • Board Name. Describe each board with keywords searched for by your customers. You can use up to 100 characters to name your board; however, your visual limit is capped at 26-characters.
  • Board Description. Use customer-centric descriptions of each Pinterest board in the 500-character space provided. Research indicates that a 200- 300 keyword-conscious description for more views and repins.
  • Board Cover Photo. Select and use the best/most visual pin as your cover photo. Update your cover photos regularly to keep makes your content feel more ‘fresh’ than it really is.
  • Important Boards. Drag and drop your most important boards to the top row of your page to make sure your readers see them. Place THE most important board in the middle. If you are just staring with Pinterest for business, make sure to have at least 5 boards with at least 10 pins on each board. Look to increase your board count to over 25 boards over the next 6 months. If you are not sure you can populate that amount of boards, then create an editorial calendar to help you plan your content strategy.

Take the first step to improve traffic to your blog, website or e-commerce site today by using Pinterest for business and setting up your profile. Please tweet me @GerryMoran and let me know when you change your profile, and I’ll be happy to let you know what I think!

Why Your Small Business Needs Enhanced Campaigns

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Sarah Beth Wiltse discusses why small businesses need to use Google AdWords new enhanced style campaigns . As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

 Last month, Google’s release of Enhanced Campaigns created a new way for small businesses to optimize their ad campaigns, especially in regards to mobile. Enhanced Campaigns revolutionized the approach towards advertising for many companies, causing endless discussion among PPC marketers. Despite the frustrations that many marketers feel at the somewhat drastic changes, everyone is eventually going to have to upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns.

Since the shift is inevitable, small businesses would do well to start adapting now. In fact, Enhanced Campaigns is simplified in a way that makes it exponentially easier for small businesses to promote themselves on mobile devices. Whereas before you had to develop separate campaigns for each type of device, now your small business can concoct one awesome ad campaign that targets both mobile and desktop searchers.

What Changed?

One of the major updates in the Enhanced Campaigns tool is the merging of mobile and desktop campaigns. You can no longer separate your campaigns by device. This essentially means that device targeting is a thing of the past. For larger companies, this likely means a bigger adjustment, since all of their campaigns targeting various devices must be meshed together. However, small business that didn’t have the resources to invest in a mobile campaign are now able to automatically add a mobile option their desktop ad campaign.

With Enhanced Campaigns, ads are smarter. Small businesses don’t have to develop a system for targeting the right device, user, time, or location. The ads are designed to be automatically selected at the appropriate time. There are more bidding options in regards to location and device, as well as more refined controls over location targeting. All of these elements make it even easier for small businesses to run a successful ad campaign.

One final note about the new tools: new ad extensions are particularly useful if you are trying to capitalize on your new mobile ad campaign. Mobile campaigns can not take advantage of click to call extensions, offer extensions, and location extensions.

The Benefits

With the help of a more advanced conversion tracker that understands the different goals of mobile ads, small businesses have a clearer, simpler way to obtain and understand the ROI. Once Enhanced Campaigns demonstrates to you the ROI resulting from your mobile ad campaign, there are very few good reasons for your small business to shy away from a mobile campaign.

The changes to Enhanced Campaigns created a distinction between these two groups – those who are already using Google Analytics with a linked Adwords account and those who are not. Using the streamlined ad campaign tools offered by Enhanced Campaigns gives your small business an edge on the competition that is dragging its feet in regards to the change. If you take positive action now, you will be able to develop your skills in using the tool before your competitors are forced to adopt Enhanced Campaigns this summer.

Is your small business using Enhanced Campaigns? What changes have you noticed?

Understanding the Business Benefits of Facebook

In an article from the web we check in on B2C where author Shell Robshaw-Bryan discusses Facebook marketing for small businesses. We hope you enjoy the article, learn, comment and share!

Facebook is the king of social networks and as such, almost doesn’t need an introduction. It is likely that you are already familiar with Facebook and probably have your own Facebook profile. With over a billion users, it’s the biggest social network with a user base that is still growing.

As with other social media platforms, Facebook allows businesses to build a community with the potential of turning a proportion of those community members into customers. By clearly showcasing a combination of the attractiveness of your goods and services, your customer service and your brands personality and/or USPs, you can use Facebook to attract new customers to you and foster brand loyalty in your existing customers. Just like on your website, your aim is to make people stick around long enough that you get the opportunity to persuade them to buy in to your brand and become a customer.

Don’t make the mistake of using Facebook like a one-way sales channel. Bombard your Facebook fans with offer after offer, and you’ll find this is the quickest way to lose potential customers (unless you have a deal based business model such as Groupon or Wowcher). As a rule, no one wants constant hard sell filling up their timeline. The key to successful use of Facebook for businesses lies in your ability to engage followers, listen to them and to balance the content you are publishing.

What’s the point of Facebook?

Facebook provides businesses with the ability to create and grow an engaged community of customers and potential sales leads.

Building communities and individual relationships

Facebook provides an excellent means by which a company can not only demonstrate their expertise in any given area, but they can actively create a brand personality, in keeping with brand values and marketing strategy and promote their unique selling points.

Facebook is all about engagement and adding value. As a result of reaching out to your customers, you’ll obtain highly valuable insights that will shape your communications (extending to other social networks and even transferable to your traditional marketing channels), making them even more effective.

Successful use of Facebook relies upon effective engagement and in your ability publish fresh and interesting content.

Building a community doesn’t come easily and it certainly won’t happen overnight. You will need to commit to and invest in a long-term strategy that will underpin all of your social media activities. If you are after a quick win or instant results, then social media is not going to provide that, unless you are using paid advertising.

Whilst this introduction to Facebook deals primarily with the free page all businesses can set up, you do have the option of enhancing your presence further by taking advantage of promoted posts and Facebook ads. Similarly enhancing your page with free or paid-for Facebook apps, can help to improve the quality of your content and help you to attract more visitors.

Facebook pitfalls to avoid

Ignore your Facebook wall at your own peril

Checking your social media pages every now and again just isn’t enough, and for any page with more than a few hundred Likes or followers, it is critical that you are regularly monitoring interactions.

Consider this scenario. An irate customer posts on your Facebook wall complaining about a customer service issue. Respond to such a post quickly, providing an apology, reason and resolution and you can effectively turn the situation into a positive PR opportunity. Consider that same irate post on your Facebook wall left un-answered for several days. This makes it look like you don’t care about customer service and also shows that you don’t pay attention to your Facebook wall, sending a very negative message to anyone visiting your page and it certainly won’t help you convert new customers.

Once set up, the single most important thing to remember is to monitor your Facebook wall. Whilst daily monitoring is acceptable, for active Facebook communities, then you are going to want to check your wall for any mentions, pre-sales questions or customer service issues several times a day. Read more about the perils of not monitoring your Facebook wall in the article Keep track to avoid social media fail.

Fake likes are largely worthless to you

You are likely to come across companies offering to sell you ‘Likes’ and for a new page, this can certainly be tempting. Consider this though – why do you want to buy likes? What benefit do you get from appearing to have more likes? The real value of Facebook comes in the form of genuine fans, which should largely be made up of existing and potential customers – these fans are receptive sales leads and so have an intrinsic value, making it worthwhile to invest your time into engaging them.

Buy likes and your new fans will have no real interest in your brand and as such can’t be categorised as potential sales leads, in which case they are of little or no value to you.

Failing to engage sends out negative signals

To make Facebook work you need to give people a reason to come to your Facebook page; when they are on your page, your goal is to ensure that they see something they are interested in, resulting in a desirable action, such as clicking through to your website. If you rarely update your wall you aren’t giving people a reason to come back. If however your content is interesting and fresh, then people will like your page and will keep coming back.

Facebook and all social media, is about crafting two-way conversations. Engaging fans isn’t about constantly pushing out content; it’s about publishing content and then pausing to listen to your fans responses. This way you will learn what they like and will be more able to understand how to reach your target audience. When a fan is actively engaging via activities on your wall, they are highly receptive. Give them what they want and engaged fans can turn into customers.

Controversy can increase the viral potential of content but is unlikely to win you customers

Some believe that posting controversial content will help that content spread and go viral. Whilst this can be an effective strategy for achieving viral spread, it isn’t recommended. Controversy often stirs up strong emotions which can have very negative implications.

Stay away from being too controversial, you don’t want to polarise or alienate people; you might have strong political or personally held views, your business’s Facebook wall however is not the right place for you to express them.

To read about viral marketing and controversy see the article Trust me i’m a marketing ‘expert’.

Beware of the Facebook Troll

Lurking online is a special breed of person, known as a Troll. Simply put, a Troll is someone who is purposely antagonistic, argumentative and/or offensive. They will often respond to posts just to create an argument or cause a reaction and will frequently use abusive or offensive language.

Depending on your point of view, you might see them as a harmless nuisance or you might see them as anarchistic trouble makers. Once identified as a Troll, my own stance is to block the offender from posting. Blocking or banning should not be taken lightly though – if someone has a real customer service issue or complaint to air, it is always advisable to deal with it rather than simply removing the post and banning the user.

Don’t be tempted to deal with the potential threat of the Troll by locking your profile down and stopping people from posting on your wall altogether though. If you do that, you will no longer see any of the true benefit that social media provides, as you will no longer be inviting two-way conversation, turning Facebook into just another one-way marketing channel.

Part two of this introduction to Facebook will be published later this week and will provide you with some facts and tips that will help you get the most out of your Facebook activities, as well as some suggestions for engagement activities that you can take away and implement.

6 Tips To Trick Out YouTube For Small Business Success

In today’s article from around the web we visit Inc.com where author Timothy Carter discusses 6 tips to use with YouTube for your small business. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

YouTube has surpassed Yahoo! as the second largest search engine, now boasting more than 20 billion regular viewers. In the U.S., the average visitor goes to YouTube 23 times each month, spending an average of 26 minutes there each time. This is a powerful marketing tool if you know how to tap into it.

1. Create Your Own Channel

Image via Flickr by mauritsonline

Single videos will never give you the marketing performance a YouTube channel can offer. Take the time to set up your own YouTube channel, and fill it with several high quality videos before you start promoting it. You don’t want users to view your channel prematurely and determine there isn’t much to see there. After you’ve got a solid body of work to show off, then begin promoting your channel on other social networking sites or through paid advertisement.

2. Thoroughly Plan Your Videos

Before you shoot each video, take the time to carefully script it. Invest in good equipment so you can produce quality work that people will enjoy watching and sharing. Don’t just depend on funny material, incorporate all the emotions you can. Make people cry, get angry, laugh, and really feel something. If possible, budget for a professional videographer to create the videos.

3. Choose Titles Carefully

There are so many videos out there competing for “funniest,” “strangest,” or the ”best” of everything. Create unusual titles that show your videos aren’t just one of the many claiming superlatives that the material doesn’t support. Craft short titles that convey the point quickly and precisely. Look for titles that haven’t been used before and avoid titles that sound like all the rest.

4. Choose Keywords Carefully

Instead of slapping down the most obvious keywords, think outside the box. Take the time to find what keywords people are actually searching for instead of guessing. YouTube provides a keyword suggestion tool which is very useful in finding out what words people are searching when they look for videos related to yours.

5. Use Overlay Ads

Overlay ads are the best way to draw the traffic you get on YouTube back to your website where they can make a purchasing decision. The overlay ad sits discreetly at the bottom of your video, so it doesn’t detract from the viewer’s experience. This gives you the best bang for your advertising buck.

6. Monitor User Feedback

When you’re tricking out your YouTube channel, nothing is more vital than user feedback. Bear in mind, everyone’s got an opinion and people online tend to spout negative opinions like Niagara Falls. Don’t take every criticism to heart, but definitely look for trends in the comments that you might use to better develop your efforts. When you get positive comments, identify what the person liked so you can recreate something similar in your next efforts.

The key to YouTube success is getting a response from your viewers. If they’re going to hit the Share button, it’s because you made them feel something they want to pass along to others. Teach them, make them mad, make them sad, or make them laugh. But whatever you do, make sure they feel it strongly enough to pass it along to their friends.

Five Ways Social Media Has Forever Changed the Way We Work

In today’s article from around the web we visit The Huffington Post where author Vala Afshar discusses a few ways in which social media has changed the way we work. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

I recently attended an exclusive event sponsored by Salesforce.com to learn more about how to become a customer company. I was truly inspired by Marc Benioff‘s vision of the future of a truly connected company and the impact of social, mobile, app, and data on how we work and engage employees, customers and business partners. Becoming a customer company is a multi-dimensional journey that starts with a listening and learning culture, engaging customers across all channels, selling as a team, servicing customers everywhere, creating communities, connecting to partners, including products in the social network graph and delivering value added services via enterprise apps.

In an effort to learn more about the collaborative and connected organization, I asked Jacob Morgan to share his views of how social media is changing the way we work. Jacob is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Collaborative Organization – a highly recommended and one of the best social business and collaboration books – and a thought leader that I know and admire. Jacob runs a strategy consulting firm called Chess Media Group and is also very active on Twitter. He’s a keynote speaker and subject matter expert on collaboration and the future of work innovation.

It’s interesting to think that around than ten years ago there was no Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Linkedin, Wikipedia, Instagram, Pinterest, and pretty much any other social media platform or service that you can think of. In these ten years virtually everything we know about how we work, has changed and it’s all because of social media.

It’s hard to have a conversation with a business manager today without hearing about Jive, Yammer, Sharepoint, Chatter, and the dozens of other employee collaboration tools that are now making their way into enterprises around the world. All of these tools and the strategies that go with them have taken their cues from the consumer world of social media.

So what is it about social media that has changed the way we work? According to Morgan, social media has enabled several new things, among them are:

Collective intelligence

Organizations have the ability to leverage the experience and wisdom of an entire workforce to solve a problem or identify an opportunity instead of just relying on a specific team. After speaking at a conference recently someone from a large oil and gas company told me how they couldn’t solve a problem of a drill melting at extremely hot temperatures. They posed the problem on their collaborative platform for the thousands of other employees to try to solve and received a solution which was worth over a billion dollars.

Serendipity

Being able to come across a person or piece of information that can be used to improve a situation is a valuable thing. Organizations who deploy collaborative solutions greatly improve the chances of this happening. Employees have the ability to discover information which they can contribute to in a positive way. Lowe’s Home Improvement saw this first hand when an employee asked for more of a product to be delivered to a store which other stores were not selling much of. Eventually this employee shared a demo she was doing at one of her stores to sell out of the product and other locations quickly followed. This employee who was asking for additional product happened to share her demo which resulted in over a million dollars in additional revenue.

Easy to find people and information

Email and static intranets are the default forms of communication and collaboration within many organizations. This leads to around 25-30 percent of an employees work week spent in front of email and a large amount of duplicated content. Enterprise collaboration platforms have enabled a much more effective way to find people and information. A way which is self-sufficient (meaning you don’t need to ask anyone for anything) and empowering to the employees. My company, Chess Media Group, is a small business. We deployed a series of collaboration tools and strategies and since we have done so I have sent approximately six emails over the past four months, so yes, this is applicable even for smaller organizations.

Anyone can be a leader and employees have a voice

When most employees think of a leader at their company they typically think of an executive. Social media has changed what it means to be a leader. Employees now have a voice where they can share their ideas for anyone within the company to see and read. These employees have the ability to become leaders in their own right on any topic that they care about. One of the world’s largest consulting firms in the world (hundreds of thousands of employees around the world) has seen this happen first hand where junior and mid-level employees have the most widely followed internal blogs in the company. These employees are not executives but they are leaders with a voice that everyone listens to.

We are also seeing the complete destruction of work-hours as being set from 9-5. I’m in my late 20’s and grew up using social and collaborative tools in every aspect of how I work. For the future workforce not having these tools is the foreign way to work.

Transparency and flatness

Most organizations in the world are hierarchical and not transparent. It’s analogous to climbing a ladder where only the first few rungs are visible and the rest are hidden. This is changing and many organizations are no longer using this as the way to work. Employees (including managers and executives) are now sharing what they are working on, how they are feeling, who they are meeting with, and what is happening with their department or the company as a whole in a discoverable and public way. There is greater insight for employees to understand not just what is happening in their organization but how their individual contributions are impacting something greater. Managers and executives are now able to interact and engage with anyone at any level and vice versa. Entry level employees can communicate and share information directly with top-level executives and executives have the opportunity to discover and recognize employees and their ideas in a public way. The CEO of the world’s largest grocery retailers prides himself on being able to gain insight into what is happening inside of his company (through an internal Twitter-like feed) while quickly being able to discover ideas and recognize employees, even it means doing something simple such as waiting in a cab at a red light and “liking” an idea that someone submits. A small action with a great impact.

Organizations seeking to evolve need to not only recognize the changes in technology and behavior but they also need to take a strategic approach to changing how their employees fundamentally work. Technology without strategy won’t get you very far.

The ability to connect and engage with people and information anywhere, anytime, and on any device is fundamentally changing everything we know about how we work, how we lead, and how we manage and it all started with the consumer web and social media. Now, these changes in behavior and technology and rapidly entering enterprises. The smart organizations are the ones who recognize this and are evolving to become collaborative organizations.

This post was co-authored by Jacob Morgan. Jacob is the principal of Chess Media Group, a management consulting and strategic advisory firm on collaboration. Jacob is also the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Collaborative Organization.

Google+ for Business: Why It’s Worth Your Time

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author The Wishpond Blog explores why Google Plus for business is worth your time. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Another Social Media Network?!

It’s almost been two full years since Google+’s official launch, and many people still don’t see the benefit of it over Facebook. Many of us have already invested so much into our personal Facebook network, much less our business Facebook pages – so starting all over from square one may sound incredibly unappealing. After all, Google+ is nothing more than a watered down clone of Facebook that no one uses, right?

Not quite.

Why Google+ is Worth your Time

Google+ is loaded with intuitive and innovative features that are unmatched on Facebook or any other social media network. It’s true that Google’s user-base seems a lot less engaged than on other websites, the infrastructure and groundwork of features like Circles, Hangouts, and others more than make up for its deficiencies. Google+ also boasts incredibly powerful search engine optimization benefits for any businesses or content creators that use its network. If Google+ just seems too empty for your business to consider, isn’t this the prime time to join before your competitors can entrench themselves in your market?

The Google+ Demographic

This infographic provided by website-monitoring.com provides some great information about the demographic snapshot of Google+ as of February 2012. The full infographic can be found here.

Find out more about Google+ on Wishpond’s Google+ Marketing Resource Page.

Using LinkedIn Effectively to Build your Business

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Andrew Paul explores why LinkedIn benefits your business and how to use it effectively. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Albeit, this post is a little off topic for me and isn’t really connected to email marketing but I thought it was an important part of marketing yourself and your business, so I decided to share my thoughts on the subject.

 LinkedIn is an awesome business marketing and communications tool. It provides a great way to connect with peers, business contacts, improve your business and network. If you use it correctly, you can enhance your personal and business brand. LinkedIn allows you to connect with like minded business people who are interested in networking, making new business connections and improving their reach. Remember, it’s not only what you know but who you know that will help you get ahead. Building beneficial connections takes time and effort. Be smart about who you connect with and how you use LinkedIn.

Below are some suggestions that will help you get the most out of using LinkedIn correctly and not making stupid mistakes.

  • Keep your profile up to date and complete: LinkedIn has many great features. Your LinkedIn Profile is still one of the most compelling reasons to use the website, which is why LinkedIn is one of the best searchable databases of business people available. If you want people to find you, you need to make sure that your profile is complete and up to date.
  • Don’t use canned invitations: This doesn’t mean every Invitation has to be a lengthy personal novel. Below are a few tips for keeping Invitations efficient and personal.
  • Keep it short and simple. Don’t use the default invite that automatically appears when you send an invitation to connect.
  • Don’t click the button that say’s this person is my “friend”, when you don’t even know the person. I am amazed how many people attempt to connect to me by using this feature. I always ignore requests that come from people saying they are my friend when I don’t know who they are. This is a really bad way to try and connect to people.
  • Only connect to people you know, people you do business with or people who you would like to do business with that are in your same industry. There has to be a mutual benefit for someone to accept your invitation and connect with you. If you don’t know the person, there has to be some type of common connection to connect with them. If you share a group, use that group to connect and write them a personalized email explaining why you want to connect. If you have a mutual and common LinkedIn connection, ask that person to introduce you to the person you would like to connect with.
  • Don’t expect everyone to use LinkedIn the same way you do: Setting rigid networking standards is a bad thing to do. What’s the point of posting a profile and using LinkedIn if you don’t have an interest in connecting with people, networking and building your business? This can be a source of needless frustration and can actually prevent you from building relationships and building your brand.
  • Give LinkedIn messages equal importance: Many people have a tendency to treat LinkedIn communications as less important or less time-sensitive than a regular e-mail or phone call. Nothing could be further from the truth. People get jobs, hire employees, gain clients, and make deals as a result of LinkedIn communications. They are every bit as important and must be a part of your essential business correspondence just like the rest of your e-mail. If they’re not, you’re connecting with the wrong people.
  • Don’t spam: One person’s networking is another person’s spam. Better to err on the side of caution. There are plenty of ways to use LinkedIn productively without getting a bad rep as a spammer. Some basic rules of etiquette are:
  • Don’t post marketing messages, job listings, or connection-seeking messages on LinkedIn Answers.
  • Don’t automatically subscribe your connections to your newsletter.
  • Don’t send connection requests to people you don’t know or don’t have some type of connection to.
  • Do your homework: People provide you all kinds of guidance, both direct and implicit, regarding what to contact them about and how. If you’re the one initiating the communication, it’s your responsibility to communicate on their terms. Showing them that you took the time to do your homework about them demonstrates a certain level of commitment to the relationship right from the outset.
  • Be proactive when making new connections: If you just set up a profile, connect with a few of your friends, contacts and people you know personally, and don’t expect your phone to start ringing off the hook. Business will not start flowing automatically just because you have a profile setup. It takes time to build quality connections and understand how to communicate with them.
  • Don’t confuse quantity with quality: If you want to track your real progress using LinkedIn, don’t measure it by meaningless metrics like number of connections, endorsements, or questions answered. Use metrics that you know directly tie to business results, such as:
  • Leads generated
  • Joint venture requests
  • Strategic partner prospects
  • New sales
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Publicity opportunities

LinkedIn needs to be used intelligently and as an add-on to your existing business communication tools. Regularly update your profile status. You shouldn’t update your LinkedIn status with non-business related items. This is not Facebook. Update your profile status with news articles or interesting posts related to your industry, company related headlines, and relevant content. You want to engage conversation, and most importantly, show your professional connections what’s happening in the industry and your world. Make time for LinkedIn on a daily basis. Share helpful and informative information, great articles and disseminate valuable information that your connections can use.

A Getting Started Guide for Google+

In today’s article from around the web we visit Inc.com where author Skadeedle explores Google Plus and how to get started the right way. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

What is Google+? Google created and launched its own social network in 2011 called Google+.

Aside from being “just another social media platform,” Google+ also integrates Google products, services and search engine features all into one easy-to-navigate page. As a business, you can create a Google+ Page and build a community around it. This not only gives you the benefit of connecting your business with potential customers, but also boosts your website’s placement in Google-powered search engine results.

 Why Google+ Matters

It’s no secret that Google is the most popular search engine on the web. In fact, the term “Google” has gone from a company’s name and product, to a verb used to describe the act of searching on the internet. When someone “Googles” your business, you want them to find you easily, right? Using Google’s products to boost your search results, and increase your sphere of influence, is an effective way to do just that.

Rumor has it that websites with verified Google+ Business Pages get some good search engine karma from Google. Google+ content indexes well with Google’s search robots, so websites that post often appear higher in search results. Active use of Google + can lead more potential customers to you – Good news!

What You Can Do with Google+

Like other social networks, Google+ allows members to connect and share text, photos and links. But Google+ also offers some unique opportunities to connect via video chat, multimedia content and more.

On Google+ you can:

  • Create “Circles” of people and companies that your business interacts with – such as customers, vendors and partners.
  • Schedule and host video chats via Google Hangouts.
  • Post photos, videos, links and statuses – either to the public or to specific Circles in your network.
  • Create and participate in interest groups.

Quick Glance Google+ Glossary

Circle: An organization system for the people and Pages you follow. This allows you to create targeted lists of your audience so that the right updates go to the right folks and brands.

+1: The Google+ equivalent of Liking something on Facebook. By clicking the +1 icon on a Page or post, a user is saying, “This is good – I like it!”

Tag: To mention a person or Page in a post. This is done by putting a “+” before the name of the person or Page in a status update. The person or Page will receive a notification on Google+ when you do this and may receive an email, depending on the settings of their account.

Hashtag: A Word or phrase (without spaces) that is preceded by the # symbol. Hashtags are used to keep related content grouped so that those interested in a certain subject can easily locate it.

Hangout: A video chat between up to 10 Google+ users. These can be streamed live for more folks to watch, and the video can be saved to YouTube.

Should Your Biz Be on Google+?

Yes! Though it might feel like juggling yet another social network, this is not one to miss. Because of the search engine benefits and the Google connection, being on Google+ is necessary for your business. It’s also easy.

If you’re a small brick-and-mortar business, claim your Google+ Local listing, which is a business listing with Zagat information that is automatically created by Google.

Convinced? Then it’s time to tap into the power and benefits of Google+.

Getting Started

To join Google+ as a business, you must first join as an individual using a Gmail account. Start by creating your Google+ personal profile, then you can use that to set up your Google+ Business Page and claim your Google+ Local listing.

Creating a Google+ Page for Your Business

  • Click on the “More” link at the bottom of the left sidebar to find the Pages section.
  • Click “Create New Page.”
  • Choose the category that fits your business.
  • Fill in the necessary information.
  • Upload your logo, and a cover photo if you have one.
  • Start posting.

Make sure to add the Google+ chicklet (widget) to all pages of your website or blog so that those who come to your site can +1 your pages and share them with their networks.

What’s Google+ Local?

When Google users search for your business, a Google+ Page comes up containing location, hours and other information – and if you’ve claimed that Page, you can revise the information and make changes. “I think one of the most overlooked areas of optimization for a small business are their local results. Many small businesses are local in nature, so optimizing their Google+ Local Page [is] very important,” says John E. Turner of Postali.com. “Often times people don’t even claim these listings, leaving it up to everyone else to decide what is being reported about their business. Local optimization is not the same as traditional search engine optimization, so make sure you get out there and claim, complete and optimize all of your business listings.”

Effective Use of Google+

Because Google+ is a more robust service, it takes a little more effort than other social networks to set up and run. As you follow people and other companies for your business, you’ll want to add them to Circles so that you can keep your contacts organized. For instance, you may want to create a Circle for local customers and another for online customers. You may also want to create a Circle for vendors or businesses with whom you’d like to work.

 By organizing those you follow into Circles, you have the ability to tailor what content goes to each group, increasing the effectiveness of everything you do.

When folks in your Circles follow you back and you send updates to the Circle they’re in, an option appears at the bottom of the update box that says “Also send email to CIRCLE NAME.” If you check this, then everyone in that Circle will receive an email about your update. Sounds good, right? Not always. Use this feature sparingly so only your most newsworthy or important posts send an email

Creating Share-Worthy Content on Google+

Twitter is for conversations. Facebook is for community building. Google+ is for information. Think of it as the classroom or manual of social media sites—and treat your postings as such.

What should you be sharing? You’ll want to share new content from your website so that the links get that search engine boost from being mentioned on Google+, but that’s not all. Google+ is the perfect place to post tips, brief how-to items and articles that are more relevant to your business. The more useful the post, the more likely it’ll be commented on or shared. Basically, you want to inform and enlighten your audience by being an expert in your field.

How Often to Post

While there are lots of people and businesses signed up on Google+, not many are regularly participating. Do you know what that means? More opportunity for you!

Since there is so much opportunity to make a name for yourself and your business on Google+, you should try to post at least once a day—if not a few times each day. Also, if you’re mentioning a specific person or business, tag them in your posts by putting a “+” and type their name. A list will come up, and you can click the right person to add. Interacting with other users sparks engagement with your followers.

Engagement on Google+

Your Google+ presence is only as strong as your engagement with other Google+ users. Why? Because the more your posts get liked, commented on and shared, the more powerful they become in Googleland. But how do you get seen, heard and shared?

You have to build your community—that means adding folks and businesses of interest to your Circles, interacting with them and keeping your fingers crossed they follow you back. You can also add a Google+ link to your website or blog so that fans can easily find and follow you.

 Encouraging G+ Sharing

The more your Page and posts are shared on Google+, the more valuable your Google+ account becomes. That’s important for the search engine aspect of things. Encourage your followers to interact and share whatever you’re posting by keeping your statuses, photos and videos information-rich and interesting.

Who are You trying to Reach?

You’ll want to connect with influencers. Tag them in your posts, when appropriate, comment on their posts as your business, and add them to your Circles.

Hashtags on Google+ A hashtag is a keyword or keyphrase (without spaces) that is preceded by the # sign. This transforms the word into a hyperlink that groups the status or post with others using the same hashtag. When you type # into the status box on Google+, it’ll automatically generate suggestions as you type, allowing you to see potential hashtags to choose from.

Dos and Don’ts of Hashtagging

Do: hashtag all your Google+ posts.

Don’t: just post a link and include tons of hashtags (spam alert!).

Do: use various hashtags to capture several themes within the post.

Don’t: use multiple variations of the same word (overkill!).

Do: use the hashtags that Google+ suggests as you’re typing.

Don’t: use acronyms that you’ve made up as a hashtag (no one will find you!).

Why Hashtags Matter

Your goal with social media is to expand your audience and increase their engagement, right? Hashtags help you to reach more people. Simply put, hashtags allow more users to find your status updates and Google+ Page. More eyes for your business on Google+ can translate into more followers, and ultimately more clients.

Choose your hashtags wisely, selecting only those that directly relate to your industry. Don’t be afraid to use 2 or 3 hashtags at once (too many can look spammy).

Google+ Management in a Jiffy

Adding Google+ to your social media repertoire doesn’t have to be stressful and time consuming. With good planning, managing your Google+ account could take mere minutes each day.

So, how do you do that? Here’s a simple three-step plan for keeping your Google+ work easy, fast and effective:

  1. Post something new—whether it’s a tip for your customers, a link to a new blog post or page, or a photo that shows something neat about your business. Post something straight from your website and don’t forget to hashtag it.
  2. Read and respond to other posts. This is where organized Circles come in handy. You can select whose updates to see using your Circles, rather than viewing everyone’s posts simultaneously. This also lets you target posts for specific segments of your audience.
  3. Respond and share. When someone tags you in a post, respond. When you see something that’s a great fit for your own audience, share it. These are the things that will take your Google+ posting from talking at people to talking with people—a good thing for your business.

Automating Google+ Updates (yes, it’s possible)

There isn’t yet the breadth of options for automating Google+ that other social networks have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It is! If you use the Chrome browser, you can download the Do Share plugin and schedule some of your posts in advance. However, it’s important to remember that some degree of management does need to be handled manually—especially since responding to others is such an important part of Google+ management.

When you follow the tips in this guide, you should be on your way to Google+ success. Simply posting new and interesting info, effectively using hashtags and conversing with people is all it takes to make an impact on this social network. With a small investment of time, you too can build up your business profile for the search engine giant, resulting in more customers – always +1 in our book!