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Engaging with Google Plus: An Introduction
Friday, November 11th, 2011

Earlier this week, Google announced support for business and organization pages on Google+,  the latest social network from Google.  We’ve been following Google+ for several months and we thought it would be a good idea to review opportunities to get engaged on Google+.

Google+ is the latest social network from Google and offers the tightest integration with other Google services like Gmail and Search.   Google combines the functionality of popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter into its own unique experience.

The first thing you’ll notice on Google is the very clean interface and the following + things.  This is a combination of the Facebook “like” button and the Twitter re-tweet.  Users can + links or photos that they like in their feed or on external websites.  The + can also be used to address a user like +Ascentum, which is similar to Twitter’s @Ascentum system.

Adding the Plus

The easiest option for businesses and websites is to add the Google+ button to their site content.  The integration is very similar to the Facebook Like button and allows users to quickly + content they find interesting on your website, many users also use this as a bookmarking system that they can refer to later.

The other major importance of adding the Google+ is impact on search.  Google has indicated that the content with more pluses will receive higher search ranking.   It would be a good opportunity to add this functionality now to help building your site’s prominence in the future.

Joining the Plus

Now that Google has added business pages it’s a great opportunity to add your business .   Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Google+ doesn’t currently have the ability for multiple people to update an organization page.   This functionality may be available soon but until then, we recommend creating a new Google User account specifically for your business page.  Use this account exclusively to manage your Google+ Page.

Once you have your Google Account created, you can create your Google+ organization page here: https://plus.google.com/pages/create

The  page setup is very simple but you’ll need a square image with your organization’s logo and some details to describe it concisely.  Most of the Google+ Page fields will accept HTML links so you can link to your website for more information.

You will probably need to promote your new Google+ organization page on your webpage and other social networks to connect with users.  One interesting benefit that Google has added to search is you can use +Ascentum to quickly find your companies Google+ Page.

As more users add your organization page you may want to develop some “Circles” of users to help group them into different categories.  You can use these circles to communicate different information. For example, employees, volunteers and regular users can all get their own circle and receive different communication.  Whenever you post something to your page you can choose which circle(s) should see the update.

Hanging Out…

One thing that makes Google+ unique is the the Hangout functionality.  This lets you have a live video/chat with a fairly small number of users.  This could be a great way to engage employees or volunteers without the time or expense of organizing personal meetings.

While Google+ is still fairly new it does offer some unique possibilities for engaging users and like all the networks before, it’s free to setup and experiment with.

-Colin Smilie-

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