Local marketing once meant bulletin boards that caught our attention, fashioned flyers that fascinated us, walls covered with posters that compelled us to act. Yes, at one time, local marketing meant printing, printing, and more printing. Not so anymore.
The times are a-changin, as Bob Dylan sang, and local marketing must change with them. With 1.19 billion active users on Facebook, 215 million on Twitter, and 359 million on Google Plus, the world changes, the market digitizes, the flyer evolves.
Attention has centered on the last of these, Google Plus, the second largest social media site. Interestingly enough, Google Plus’s features—circles, profiles, authority, “+1’s,” and hangouts—can replace old local marketing strategies.
So, if you’re looking for some new touchpoints, consider these tips on how to improve local internet marketing with Google Plus.
Circles: Stop Hanging Flyers
The circle is a symbol of inclusiveness, unity, fellowship. Lovers use it to bind themselves. Taoists use it to balance Yin and Yang. And of all things, Google uses it to include the right people in the right conversations.
Circles, then, are groups of like-minded people. Every Google Plus user can create multiple circles, and every circle has its own conversation.
Circles are perfect for local marketing. Basically, you create a circle and add people—who are following you—to those circles based on their interests. This helps you share information your audience actually wants to read. No longer do you have to use the local flyer to advertise to an audience you don’t know. When customers choose to follow your business on Google Plus, they do so for a reason: to receive notifications, specials, and information about your business.
Circles opens creative avenues for internet marketing. For instance, let’s say I manage a local Carmike Cinema. By exploring followers’ interests, I could create many creative circles: a horror movie circle, a Johnny Depp circle, a family circle. And, in each one, I could inform customers about the newest Halloween release, Johnny Depp’s latest haircut, popcorn specials for families. Circles, then, allow you to tailor specific messages to diverse audiences.
Circles also motivates customers to visit your business. Just show them how active you are. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, so consider Google photos. With 1.5 billion photo uploads every week, and with tools similar to photoshop, Google Plus boasts of optimizing photo uploads. So if you’re sponsoring an event, if you’re hosting a sale, if you’re celebrating Black Friday, upload photos to show customers your activity. If you’re at a college sponsoring their homecoming, if you’re at a church sponsoring their fundraiser, if you’re at a hospital sponsoring their patients, upload photos. Show people that you and your business are real, personal, and interactive.
Of course, to add followers to a circle, you must know something about that customer. And Google helps with that, too.
The Profile: Portrait of a Customer
Google Plus accounts are bound to Google profiles. With a Google profile, you publicly display your interests, information, awards, and anything else you want the world to know. It’s an easy way to manifest your personality, and it’s even easier way to learn what your customers are passionate about.
Businesses depend on customers for survival. In many ways, knowing the needs of your customer is knowing the purpose of your business. Thus, it’s important to know who your customers are, what their needs are, and why they’re interested in your business.
Google Plus accounts are remarkable for this purpose. Every account user has the option of displaying hobbies, recreation, and other interests. You can find this information under the “About” page.
Use this to your advantage. Don’t be a super stalker, but don’t let the opportunity fade away. If a customer follows your business on Google Plus, follow that customer. If your customer likes pumpkin spice lattes, tell her about your $2 latte happy hour. If your customer dislikes horror movies, it’s probably not smart to add him to your horror movie circle.
Local internet marketing depends on an audience, and Google Plus helps you find this audience. But internet marketing also depends on page activity. And, as a search engine, Google knows how to optimize page activity.
The “+ 1”: Search Engine Optimization
Google Plus has a unique feature: the +1 button. “+1” is comparable to the Facebook “like,” except for one difference: the more your +1 is clicked, the more your page is favored by Google search spiders. In other words, Google Plus optimizes your business’s search results with every “+1”.
Every Google Plus account is treated like a website. Thus, if your page has a lot of activity, Google assumes your authority is legitimate, and you will move up in the search results. Google documents, indexes, and saves your Google Plus content, so when you post something to your Google Plus page, expect it to stay around for a long time.
Think about it: according to the social media monitoring website, Sysomos, 92% of all retweets happen in the first hour, 1.63% in the second hour, and .94% in the third hour. So, by the third hour, if your content is not retweeted, consider your tweet dead. In contrast, Google Plus content lives in search results for months, and if your content is popular, years.
So if your marketing through Google Plus, expect your content to stay alive.
If your business has a blog, Google Plus serves as a second avenue to distribute your content. It’s a powerful tool, for not only do you introduce content to specific audiences through circles, but your content can move up in search engine rankings. Google Plus, then, improves your internet marketing with just a little “+1”.
In order to harness this search engine power, Google has introduced another feature: Google Authority.
Authority: Tell Your Business’s Story
Perhaps the most important feature for bloggers, Google Authority enables writers to claim their content, no matter what it’s for, who it’s for, or where it’s written. In fact, Google Authority allows writers to claim all their content. So, if you write for three blogs, your Google Plus account displays your content for all three. That’s why Google calls this “authority.” The more content you produce, the more authority you have and the higher you rank in search results.
Google Authority goes a long way. Not everyone can have access to it. First, you must show you are producing a lot of content, whether its blog posts, video or picture posts, or just regular posts to your circles. Once you’ve proven this, you can apply for your authority. When approved, your picture, logo, or brand will appear next to everything you produce. This photo is profoundly effective: by seeing your photo next to posts in a Google search, searchers feel more comfortable clicking on your link. The photo tells searchers, “I am a real person, and you can trust me.”
Google is first and foremost a search engine, and Google Plus ultimately serves to this end. Google Authority adds to search engines a way of validating your posts. When a customer searches for a product that you offer, and when your page shows up in the search results, your business’s logo will appear next to your posts. It’s brilliant, for your authority reveals your business’s personality, character, and story. And telling your story is the best internet marketing method.
Hiring and Hangouts: Internet Marketing for Employees
The previous four features market your business locally. But advertising locally is not the only useful quality of Google Plus: Google Plus helps businesses hire employees.
A Millennial Branding study reveals that members from both Gen Y and Gen X turn to Google Plus first for job searching. In fact, 35% of Gen Y, 31% of Gen X, and 31% of Baby Boomers use Google Plus to search for jobs, making Google Plus the most popular social network for job searching among Gen Y and Gen X (LinkedIn for Baby Boomers).
With so many job searches in Google Plus, whole communities are assisting the process. For instance, Google Plus has a community dedicated to content strategy. Underneath its left column is a page dedicated to “jobs.” Click on this and you will find several people posting job opportunities from freelance writing in Chicago to search specialist at UNICEF in New York.
Google Plus also coordinates with Google’s job board. When using job board, Google Plus users have an advantage: Google takes information from the user’s profile and filters jobs based on that user’s experience, degrees, and interests. This makes hiring smoother for businesses. Instead of sifting through various applicants who may or may not be qualified, Google Plus encourages the right people to apply for the right positions.
When a business has a Google Plus account, and when that same business posts job opportunities, users can easily find those opportunities. They simply find them from the job board, from Google search engines, or from following your business. But what happens when potential employees express interest in these opportunities? Use hangouts. Hangout are video chats conducted between up to ten Google Plus users. And when you are interviewing, hangouts can be a very useful device.
Google Plus Enhances Local Internet Marketing
The times are changing, and businesses must change with them. As the second largest social media site, Google Plus is not to be ignored. If your business does not have a Google Plus account, stop, go to Google Plus, create an account, and start exploring its vast potential.