On Monday, Google+ rolled out its brand pages for businesses, and while the social network has lost most of its steam since the initial hype, marketers are still rushing to create branded profiles.
Google+, despite its slowed growth and lack of interaction, is hoping to make a comeback with the introduction of branded pages based on the (very true) premise that marketers love content creation and social interaction; basically, that marketers see the use in creating as many online resources for brand information as possible.
It also doesn't hurt that Google+ will play a large role in real-time search results.
But, the greater implication of Google+ brand pages remains to be seen, so for now let's concentrate on the first step: creation.
Setting up a Google+ brand page is incredibly easy. You simply sign in with your personal profile and set up a page. The interface will walk you through a series of steps to establish the company, add information about services, location, and contact information. From there, you have to look at individual aspects of the UI to add value to your profile. Below are a couple tips for creating a better Google+ brand page.
1. Adding to Your Circles
Facebook has "friends" and "fans," Twitter has "followers," LinkedIn has "connections," and Google+ has "circles." Google+ doesn't let brand pages add personal profiles to its circles unless that person has already added your brand to his circles. However, this shouldn't deter your initial circle-building efforts. Add other brands to your circles that you interact with in social media. Some of ours include HubSpot, Mashable, and TechCrunch, as well as local companies and brands.
Also, make sure that any employee who currently has a Google+ account adds your brand to their circles, and then have them post about it. This is also an option when you publish your brand page; whatever personal profile it is linked to has the option to share its creation with their followers.
2. Add Photos and Videos
Photos always add value to a networking site, no matter what the industry. In Google+, they can be added in three main areas:
1. Profile photo
3. Photos tab
Your profile photo should be your branded logo, as is customary on any social networking site. And the photos tab is almost identical to Facebook: it houses "albums" that you can specify by adding photos and captions for specific events, services, products, etc.
The "scrapbook" section is where Google+ tries to differentiate itself in terms of design and put creativity in the user's hands. This is a series of five photos that are featured at the top of your profile. You can use this section to display whatever you want: portfolio work, office and employee photos, event photos, or create a series of interactive images that work together to create one larger design.
3. Add Useful Links
Your "About" section should be optimized from the get-go, meaning you should always have an introduction, contact, and website listed on your page. But Google+ has also included a helpful are here called "Recommended Links." This is the perfect place to link to other brand resources, pages, and networks. Looking at RainCastle's, you can see we've listed links to our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.
This sort of integration of social networks and web pages is beneficial in optimizing each page for search. You are strengthening each site with inbound and outbound links, and increasing credibility with Google when they crawl for your company name.
4. Connect your Google+ Page to your Website
Google gives you a simple one-line code to incorporate into your website that automatically links to your brand page. Linking your site is an important step to increase credibility, but also makes you eligible for Google Direct Connect, which hooks your Google+ page to search.
Basically, this gives people the ability to search for your Google+ page by typing into the search box "+[Company name]" ex: "+RainCastle Communications." Because this feature allows your Google+ page to appear at the very top of the page, it has a jump over Facebook and Twitter, and will automatically outrank any organic search results.
5. Share on Other Areas of the Web
Google provides you with your page's URL in a "tell the world" section, so take this and spread it like wildfire. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, Gchat; anywhere you communicate with employees, customers, and friends, quickly let them know that you've created a Google+ page and ask if they would like to network with you.