I think it’s finally safe to say that the debate over the value of using social media for business is over. Most marketers agree that social media is a simple, cost effective way to expand a company’s reach, build communities, and increase brand engagement — not to mention that almost all companies are using social media platforms in some fashion. However, the debate over which channels to use and why continues to rage on, especially in the already time-crunched marketing departments of the B2B industry.
When a company is planning their social media strategy, Google+ is often sent to the chopping block. In recent months, there has been speculation over declining usage rates and lack of activity on Google’s social network, making it an easy choice for B2B marketers to cast aside. But ignoring Google+ may be a hasty decision without a closer look at the network’s potential for B2B businesses. Here are a few reasons to give Google+ a second look:
Google has forced the issue of Google+ usage on business by completely integrating Google+ pages into their search algorithms. Google users are now provided with a “personal results” section in their search results, which contains images, posts, and videos from a user’s Google+ network that relate to their search. An active company on Google+ will have a greater amount of relevant content available for indexing into search results, increasing their reach.
A few tips:
- Share with your circles often. The more content you share, the more potential touchpoints you create with prospects.
- Add +1 button to your content. Adding the +1 button to your blog posts can help to improve the search rank of your content. To Google, the more +1’s you get, the more relevant your content is.
- Vary your content. Google indexes your content types differently. Varying your posts with pictures, videos, and articles helps expand your reach.
Shortly after the release of Google+ Pages, Google announced an integration between AdWords and Pages. This new AdWords feature, called “Social Extensions,” allows users to leverage their +1’s from all channels into their AdWords campaigns. This means that when a Google user searches for a company utilizing AdWords, their search results will not only return relevant ads, but also the total number of Google+ connections that user has that have given a +1 to that company’s content on any channel (i.e. 50 of your friends recommend this company). With consumers so deeply influenced by recommendations, this extension can dramatically improve ad performance. A few tips:
- Enable Social Extensions. Click the Ad Extensions tab in your account and select Social Extensions from the drop down menu and choose “new extension.”
- Use social report segments. AdWords reporting now offers a “+1 Annotation” segmentation in its report to provide insight into a the impact of social media on ad performance.
- Add +1 button to your content. The more social recommendations for your company that can appear in search results, the more success your campaigns will have.
When Google+ was first released, Google heavily promoted the platform’s “Circles” feature. Google made the bet that a major feature missing from Facebook was the ability to easily segment contacts into social “circles” as we do in our day-to-day lives. For the most part, the bet turned out to be a smart one and many have praised the feature and its advantages over Facebook. Circles can also be used to easily segment a client base — a huge value for B2B marketers. Segmenting your networks allows for greater relevance to those you share with, better understanding of your own network, and allows you to avoid oversaturating your followers’ feeds.
A few tips:
- Start Early. Wherever possible immediately sort new contacts into circles. Your network will grow fast (hopefully!) and segmenting a large number of people can be a pain.
- Update your circles. How you classify a connection can change frequently. Try to find a free hour at least once a quarter to reevaluate your circles to ensure the right people get the right posts.
If you’re still debating the value of Google+ in the B2B space, your search results, content strategy, and campaign effectiveness could all be suffering. Regardless of the platform’s activity and user base, tight integration with AdWords, influence over search results, and simplified segmentation make Google+ necessary for business of all types.
Check out Pardot’s Google+ page here.
Are you using Google+ in your social media efforts? Let us know!