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4 Ways Google+ Can Help Enterprise Brands

After a recent overhaul consisting of 41 updates, Google+ might as well be a whole new animal. Brands are reevaluating their presence in this fast-growing social space, while marketers are trying to pin down exactly how to take advantage of the multitude of new capabilities, including search integration. A few of us at Ignite Social Media recently sat in on a webinar hosted by Sprinklr, in which Google+ representatives gave us some insight into the multi-million-dollar question: Can Google+ help enterprise brands?

What is Google+?

Google+ Social IconIn order to understand what Google+ can do for your brand, it’s important to know what the platform is all about. Google+ is designed to make your entire Google experience better by associating your true identity with your relationships, social interactions and the recommendations you share across Google. This interconnectivity, in combination with Google Circles, allows you to share content online in much the same way you would share it in real life.

With 190 million monthly active global users, Google+ represents an opportunity for brands to reach a considerable audience through carefully targeted content. 390 million monthly active users take social actions across Google every day, whether they +1 a favorite website or post a restaurant review in Google+ Local. Brands who participate in these interactions can significantly influence the online experience of potential customers, even going so far as to impact the brand’s ranking in search. Large-scale, enterprise brands would do well to join the Google+ game now as the overall Google platform moves toward total integration across search and social.

How Can Google+ Help Brands?

Improved Content Discovery

Having a strong presence on Google+ drives discovery of your content, which is the first step in connecting with users and potential customers online. By regularly posting engaging and informative content on Google+, a brand can impact how easily users find that content in Google search results and on YouTube. For example, H&M has improved its ranking in related searches by establishing and maintaining a very active presence on Google+. The brand’s more than 3 million followers have helped H&M capture high-ranking spots that were previously occupied by unaffiliated websites.

H&M on Google+

Google+ Page PanelsGoogle+ Page Panels also appear prominently on the right-hand side of the Google search results page when a branded search term is entered. Anyone who searches the term, whether or not they follow the associated brand on Google+, will automatically see the brand’s logo, the most recent content they shared on the channel and their follower count. Think of it as a Google-verified snapshot of your brand that encourages users to connect with you.

The brands that a Google+ user follows directly impact that user’s search results, which is why a brand’s followers are such a valuable asset. One of the webinar presenters used the search term “Halloween” as an example, noting that both Martha Stewart and Pottery Barn were returned in her search results because she follows them on Google+. If you were to perform the same search, however, those brands probably wouldn’t rank at all. This puts a lot of power in the hands of businesses, which can use Google+ to influence how and where branded content appears.

Deeper Customer Relationships

Google+ gives your brand the ability to initiate a meaningful conversation with potential customers by bringing personal interaction with customers to the web. Through several collaborative features, the channel fosters a “new breed of brand engagement” that leads to stronger customer relationships. Google+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air allow brand managers and other representatives to have face-to-face interactions with followers. Maybe you’re connecting influencers with interested fans to help them learn about your product, or maybe you’re hosting an exclusive Q&A session with a celebrity sponsor.

Other Google+ features that support this idea of a connected community include:

Custom Google Hangout Applications

These apps allow brands to customize almost any experience to be more social. Good brand examples include Toyota’s Collaborator Hangout app and the Penguin Storytime Hangout app.

Google+ Communities

These groups connect people, brands and organizations around a shared interest, such as Travel Photography or Cakes & Baking in The Cadbury Kitchen.

Google+ Sign-In

This fast and trusted sign-in method has a lesser-known benefit. When someone signs into your corporate site through Google+, Google can determine whether they have an Android device and prompt them to install your brand’s official mobile app.

Toyota Collaborator Google+ Hangout App

More Effective Paid Advertising

Google+ has a complementary effect on paid advertising as well. Integrating Google+ social annotations with paid advertising online is shown to increase the success and efficiency of that advertising. In fact, Google ads that appear with social annotations show a 5-10% increase in click-through rate (CTR), demonstrating the importance online users place on the recommendations of their peers. If your brand is running paid search ads on Google, you have the option to automatically share these annotations on the page; and Google highly recommends that you do. In order to take advantage of this social boost, make sure your brand’s Google+ page is connected to a Google AdWords account.

Google Gets Better with Google+

Measurable Impact on Business

The incentives for brands on Google+ take on new meaning when you measure how they impact your business goals. Within Google Analytics, there are five social reports available to help you monitor key metrics. For example, the Conversion Report shows you how Google+ is driving conversions for your business, allowing you to define which actions represent a conversion and to associate a dollar amount with each. You can track the number of conversions, in which social drove a user to your site, as well as assisted social conversions, which refers to users who interacted with social on the path to conversion.

Google added another nifty tool to their belt in the form of Google+ Ripples, which illustrates earned media, surfaces brand advocates and the global reach of content. Try it out on a popular Google+ post by clicking the gray arrow in the upper right-hand corner and selecting “View Ripples.” You’ll see a visually pleasing diagram of how people have been sharing the post and just how far it has traveled through the wild world of the Internet. With Google+ Ripples, brands can identify community influencers with widespread followings and use this information to improve the virality of shared content.

Google+ Ripples Example

If you’ve caught the Google+ bug and want to dive right in, start by reading The guide to Google+ for business: Getting started.

Do you see Google+ becoming an integral part of our online experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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