This post is an excerpt from The Google+ Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Success on Google+.
Here are four ways to better engage customers on Google+:
Google+ engagement revolves around relevant and interesting content that benefits your page visitors.
Many content experts follow an 80-20 rule, where more than 80 percent of the content is something that can engage your customers, teach them something or make them happy. 20 percent is about you and your business.
Crazy Egg, a marketing software provider, fills its page with relevant posts on marketing, some created in-house and some shared from other sources. One recent post talks about the reasons users leave your website quickly. It is filled with great information and very relevant to all web marketers.
They will occasionally talk about their own software on their Google+ page, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Many of their articles bring you to their blog, which is just one click from their site (and a sale). Their Google+ presence delivers enough revenue per year to cover an employee.
As Coppyblogger’s founder Brian Clark mentioned, think about content as something that directs people back to your own site. You can measure via analytics specifically how much traffic is coming from Google+ versus other social networks like Twitter.
It’s difficult to constantly think of engaging content. However, not all the content has to be yours.
“The best way [to keep people engaged] is to post interesting ‘shiitake,’” says author Guy Kawasaki. “You should stand out as an excellent curator: an arbiter of good or intelligent taste. People should think: Thanks for pointing out this story, video or picture. Pick a few topics and always be curating (ABC) stories that help people interested in those topics. You can use my website to help you, for example, science.alltop. com or socialmedia.alltop.com.”
Tagging (typing a + sign then typing out the name or Page of a person you’d like to tag) people within content is a surefire way to get someone’s attention,” says Young. “That’s because +Mentions generally create direct emails of the content to that person or Page’s inbox. Using multimedia content (either directly uploaded to Google+ or via YouTube) can also grab the attention of Google+ users.”
2. Hangouts and Hangouts on Air
Hangouts are the video equivalent of a chat room or a meeting.
A hangout can have as many as 10 (15 if you are a Google Apps customer) people all connected via a laptop, tablet or mobile device’s video camera. Hangouts let you “hand the mic” to any participant, who can also share their screen instead of their image.
Hangouts are now built into Gmail, so anyone using Gmail or Google Apps (where the administrator has enabled Hangouts) can start a hangout with an instant message and change over to video or screen sharing as needed.
Hangouts on Air are a connection between Google+’s regular hangouts and YouTube. The Hangout is the same format, with up to 10 people talking and collaborating, live-streamed to YouTube as a broadcast. Anyone with the page address can watch the Hangout live. The Hangout is then recorded and saved on YouTube, so you can add it to your Google+ page or a website.
Companies use Hangouts On Air to share information, and even to capture celebrity appearances for their brand.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan promoted his book launch via a Hangout On Air with Hollywood.com. UK grocery retailer Ocado used top chefs to cook during Hangouts On Air, with multiple customers participating and the rest watching via YouTube.
“Ocado promoted the hangouts via True View ads on YouTube, which resulted in 167k engaged views,” says a Google+ case study. “Their YouTube channel views went from 50k to 230k in the space of a week thanks to the hangout, without including the people livestreaming, which was consistently about 60 people at any time.”
Communities are areas where Google+ users can talk about topics of interest.
Like other places online, customers don’t always flock to a company-branded discussion board to interact.
Author Lynette Young suggests, “Rather than create (and manage) a Community based around your company and appearing blatantly self-serving, it is a better tactic to find and participate in Communities that have begun via fans or power users… it is a great way to get a solid sense of sentiment about your company, brand, business or even a lateral industry. It’s also a great place to ‘fish’ for active influencers.”
Copyblogger’s Clark is drawn to the “Author Rank and Google Authorship” community, as it is something he’s directly interested in.
He notes that it is well moderated, with a high level of signal and low “noise.” Looking through the community, there are a lot of content-rich articles from reputable publications, with comments or +1s on many submissions. This is the kind of thing people look for in joining a community – a “bright, well-lit place” where they can learn something. This community is a good example of how to run one.
Google+ has started to roll out Offers: deals and discounts from businesses which users Circle.
The specific offers are related to the Google Offers product, a deal site similar to Groupon. Offers on Google+ launched in May with Zagat, Art.com, Hello Kitty, Nook and Adafruit, and the Google+ team will be making this available to more merchants in the future. When a user clicks an offer, they can redeem it via an email notification, or in-store via the Google Offers app on Android or IOS.