5 Ways to Kill It on Google+

Over the past few years, new information and analytics have determined that creating a presence on Google+ is a smart move for any business wanting to grow and engage with fans online. Whether you already play in this space or not, here are the top 5 ways to be successful on Google+:

1. Try embedding Google+ posts directly onto a site. 

Everyone is familiar with embedding a tweet or Facebook post onto a website, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can also link your content from Google+. Although it’s a tad more difficult to do than other social platforms, click the arrow button in the right hand corner of a post and click “Embed post” from the drop down. The code comes in two parts — one that is added within a HTML template, the other that can be used anywhere!

How to Embed a Google+ Post

2. Use a catchy headliner.

What’s great about Google+ posts, is that each one is similar to a blog post. There is ample room to write copy, editing options to make your content count — and the ability to add a captivating headline. Because the headline is pulled into the title tag of the Google+ post and because this is what shows up in Google search results, having a good headline is very important for SEO purposes.

3. Know what and when to post.

Thanks to a lot of great research by the folks at Quick Sprout, there are five types of content that are inherently preferred by Google+ users including, questions, quotes, video, animated GIFs and of course, images. Animated GIFs often garner the most +1s, while questions get the most comments from users.

Top 5 Pieces of Content on Google+

4. Use Google+ hashtags in every post.

Thankfully, Google+ makes it super simple to add hashtags to your posts — and even goes so far as to recommend which ones to use. Put 2-5 appropriate hashtags directly in the copy or include it at the end of a post. Either way, keep an eye out for trending hashtags in order for your business to stay relevant and to create more engagement with conversations that are already taking place online.

How to use hashtags within Google+5. Know how to use Google+ circles effectively.

Google+ circles gives businesses the chance to interact with a targeted group of users or on a larger scale, community groups. Because circles are manually created, your business is can market to a list of top followers or to an entire group, depending on your strategy. Continue to build relationships with your circles to increase engagement and better determine what content is sticking and what is not.

Google+ Circles

Is your biz on Google+? If so, what do you do on the platform to be successful?

— Samantha

 

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Why Google+ is Very Important to Businesses

Google Knowledge Graph

Google+ is the second largest social networking site after Facebook. Seriously. Since Google introduced their own social network to the public in 2012, Google+ now has over 300 million users.

Although Google+ doesn’t have the best reputation in the business, many people underestimate the power of this large platform, which integrates within everyone’s online experience. In fact, those companies that refuse to be a part of it are losing out on a very engaging audience. We’ve taken the liberty of listing a few, thanks to this great article:

1. Google+ Communities are Engaging!

Communities were rolled out in the back half 2012. Since then, over 100,000 of them have been created. Each community provides the Google+ user base with an additional method of sharing things. Now, one can target great materials to groups with high engagement numbers to receive the best results.

What does this mean for small businesses? Now companies can create better targeted content and creative to hit the fans that mean the most to them, all while building meaningful brand awareness. Businesses will not only come across as more authentic to their fans, but it will most likely keep the brand top of mind for many customers.

2. Google+ Profile = Better Search Rankings

Google is constantly trying to personalize one’s experience searching online. Anyone who follows your Google+ account will see content that you post, therefore automatically increasing where it ends up in the overall search rankings. Because high quality Google+ content ranks high on Google itself, it’s important to share high value materials on your page to get good and visible content to your audience.

TIP: Make sure you’ve added the top influencers in your industry to your circles with the “Recommended Users” tool. After doing so, you’ll be ready to begin engaging with content that interests you and the business, therefore increasing your overall brand awareness as well. Be sure to +1 (similar to a Like on Facebook) or comment on posts that you find interesting — but don’t spam people!

3. You’ll get a profile in Google’s Knowledge Graph

Google’s Knowledge Graph is located on the right of listings when brands are searched (see image at the top of this post). This area can show the latest services/products, news and much more — and can greatly impact whether a user sees your content or your direct competitors. Even better? With Google’s ability to customize the Knowledge Graph, businesses can now show recent order history, etc. immediately to the user.

TIP: In order to create the best Knowledge Graph possible, be sure to personalize your entire profile and post quality content frequently, as this tiny box can truly increase your company’s visibility.

Tell us: Do you have a Google+ account for your business?

— Samantha

4 Crazy Social Media Stats That Could Change Everything

Thanks to a great article on FastCompany.com, here are four interesting social media stats that could ultimately end up changing your current view of the digital space. We chose our favorites, but you can check out the rest here.

#1: About 25% of smartphone owners between 18-44 years old, say they can’t remember the last time their phone was NOT next to them.

This fact means that users are rarely disconnected with the internet, and subsequently social media platforms. With the opportunity to interrupt the lives of your users all day, everyday, your brand should reconsider developing a highly successful mobile marketing strategy to fully reach the highest number of fans possible.

Smart Phone Statistic

#2: 189 million Facebook fans, only use the platform on their smartphone and create 30% of all Facebook’s ad revenue.

Similar to statistic #1, not only do you need to have a mobile strategy, but your brand needs to completely understand how content is showing up on mobile devices before posting. This includes making sure sharing capabilities are easy for users and creative is the right quality to be engaged with whether on a desktop or a smartphone.

Mobile Fans

#3. Social media has become the number one activity on the internet.

Because social media is the most popular activity for people of all ages, this industry and outlet as a whole, carry more weight today than in past years. No longer is using social media simply a fad, but people are now forming habits around it and new social platforms pop up every week. If this stat doesn’t push you to create a digital strategy for your business, you might want to give it a bit more thought.

#4: The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is between 55-64 years old.

This particular bracket on Twitter has grown 79% since 2012, while the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing on Facebook and Google+. These numbers are evidence that social media is no longer just for teens and young adults. If you have customers in these older brackets, you should have a social marketing strategy that engages with these users, instead of ignoring them completely by focusing on younger demographics. Be sure to understand your brand’s demographic before creating a posting/tweeting strategy.

— Samantha

Social Commerce Growth with Hashtags

Social Commerce and Hashtags

Over the past few years, many social platforms have tried their hand at social commerce: the act of purchasing goods via social media. Although social commerce (a $14.25 billion industry) has seen its ups and downs, it’s becoming increasingly more popular — thanks in part to the hashtag.

Hashtags first began on Twitter, then grew to be included on other social sites like Instagram, Facebook and Google+, etc. They’re essentially labels that help aggregate content and are very helpful for those who are interested in the same topic.

When it comes to searching online, businesses are using hashtags as connecting links between social networks. No longer is it simply social marketing, but it has truly become social commerce with a component of virality that includes discounts, coupons and more. When a friend buys something online via social, it is assumed that their friends will see the purchase and be prone to buy something as well. When you tie in hashtags, whether targeted or more general, a brand is automatically reaching a larger audience across multiple platforms.

As many researchers have found, the majority of the population go on social media to shop, read reviews (from strangers or friends) and more. Although those specific social platforms in use may vary, hashtags tie particular topics together while maintaining streamlined and simple programs for the user.

Hashtag Mania

Today, companies like American Express have teamed up with Twitter to create a way to instantly shop with the use of an “actiontag.” A user would simply tweet/post the distinctly branded “actiontag” which would automatically purchase the product. Additionally, hashtags are being used across a multitude of websites (to better filter content for fans), contests (to spark creativity) and even to help distribute discounts online, which in turn have proved to go viral with fans.

Although there’s a lot more to witness as the relationship between social commerce and hashtags blossoms, we hope businesses will use the hashtag more creatively and effectively to promote sales in the future.

Tell us: Does your small business use hashtags in current marketing programs?

— Samantha

How to Use a #Hashtag, for Beginners

Hashtag

Hashtags (links with the pound sign — # — in front) are everywhere. From Twitter to Google+, to Instagram and most recently Facebook, the proper use of hashtags can be somewhat confusing! Having said this, they’re an important part of social media and should not be taken lightly when applying them to your brand’s digital strategy.

To start, a # will make any word or phrase directly behind it into a completely searchable link. In essence, hashtags help aggregate content across many platforms and allows for better organization around a topic or conversation.

  • Text following a hashtag should not (and cannot) include spaces, periods, commas, question marks, apostrophes, exclamation points or any special characters.
  • Numbers are allowed.
  • There are no limits to hashtags, so feel free to make up your own — or better yet, enter in on a current conversation to stay extra relevant!

Twitter Hashtag

As mentioned above, hashtags can be used on a number of social platforms.

  • Twitter: This is where hashtags first started. Be sure to check out the Trends section on the side of your Twitter feed to see the current list of hashtags that you may find interesting, typically based on your tweets.
  • Instagram: Hashtags on this image-focused platform help you obtain new followers and also provide great sources of finding new users and interesting content.
  • Tumblr: On here, there is a specific Tag area where you can input certain terms, which basically act as hashtags and organizes content around conversations.
  • Google+: Similar to a Google search, clicking on a hashtag will show results relating to the topic at hand and will also give you the option of searching the # on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Facebook: Although only introduced a few months ago, hashtags on this popular site have not done as well as originally expected. Although hashtags on Facebook serve a similar function as Twitter or Instagram, many digital marketers question the actual benefits of including hashtags in posts.

Facebook Hashtag Example

In addition to helping your company create or join a conversation online, hashtags often better help define a brand’s personality. With a tone that may include sarcasm or humor, etc. hashtags can create a unique brand voice, which will ultimately keep your company top of mind for users. Note that you should not add too many hashtags to your posts/tweets, as more than 3-4 can often be seen as spam.

Lastly, creating a hashtag that your company or brand can own is crucial. Whether or not you decide to create your own or simply take over an existing one is up to you, as both have great benefits. Keep in mind the following:

  • Creating a #: Be sure to do research before you choose. If you decide to join a conversation, make sure you pick a hashtag that has many users already using it. If you decide to make up your own, make sure that it’s unique by checking to see if anyone has used it previously.
  • Be consistent: After you decide on a hashtag(s), be sure to use them consistently across all of your brand’s social platforms and marketing materials. Teaching your audience to expect certain messaging that will (hopefully) get them to tweet or post with your hashtag in the future!
  • Make it short & to the point: Keep your hashtags short so they are clear to users and are easy to use by others. Also, be sure that the hashtag isn’t too generic to keep it as effective as possible.
  • Stay relevant: Be sure to follow current trending hashtags and be sure to use hashtags that relate to your business. If they’re not relevant to you, don’t use them as it’ll end up looking like spam.
  • Utilize your hashtag: A great way to kick off a new hashtag is by introducing it via a contest or promotion which will get the attention of your fan base. Do so in a creative way that will immediately make your fans think of your brand when they see it!

Comments, questions? Feel free to add them below and we’ll get back to you!

— Samantha

Where Sports Fans Engage on Social Media

Sports fans

Big sports fan? Ever talk about the game on FB or Twitter? You’re certainly not alone.

Catalyst’s annual fan engagement study studies sports fans to better determine where they play on social media — and where marketers can better reach them! In Catalyst’s recent study, the team surveyed 2,100 sports fans (16 and 64 years old) who follow the NFL, NBA, MLB, college football, college basketball and soccer.

A few top points are highlighted below, but check out the full infographic below

  • Surprisingly, only 57% of fans surveyed “liked” a brand/sport team page to show their support — versus 61% who “liked” a page for a coupon or discount.
  • Although more fans are on Facebook in general, Twitter is the most popular platform on a game day.
  • Post game, Instagram rises in popularity, when fans are most likely sharing images from the game or viewing party.

Catalyst Sport Infographic

 

— Samantha

Most Relevant Factors in Search Marketing

Simply put: If a customer cannot find your company online, they’ll probably head to your competitor.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, plays an integral part in increasing an online presence for a business. It’s the process of garnering traffic from free and organic listings on search engines including Google, Yahoo and bing and giving certain content higher ranking to those that are most relevant to users.

A 2013 study completed by Searchmetrics uncovered the best and most relevant factors in search marketing. Based on the numbers, it’s clear that a higher ranking eCommerce site will increase sales. About 33% of traffic floats to the top listing in Google’s organic search results, while 18% of traffic goes to a second spot, etc. The key takeaway? If a company’s website doesn’t show up on the first page of a customer’s search results, a business will risk great revenue decreases.

Other factors in the report that increase SEO include backlinks, on-page technology and great content. The factor that got our attention? “Social signals continue to correlate very well with better rankings.” After the past year, Searchmetrics found that there’s a direct correlation of URLs that garner large numbers of social engagement and those that are highlighted in the top of search results. The more you tweet/post/comment, the better your SEO!

Great news for us digital marketers where likes, shares, comments and tweets are pushed on the regular. Although we’re always trying to find new and better ways spread the news about a business, it’s nice to know that our efforts on social are actually making an impact.

Here’s to a better relationship between social media and search!

— Samantha & Mike

Ranking Factors 2013

Google Hangouts App

Over the last few days, Google has been announcing a number of new services and enhancements to their offerings.  One of these enhancements we are excited about is the new Google Hangouts app. Google Hangouts themselves are not new, and chances are you have seen or used them before, but until this week, accessing this service on your mobile device was not very convenient. With this new stand alone app, it looks like the bar has been raised for chat services.

As an Android user, I am particularly excited for this enhancement. Although I do love my Samsung Galaxy 3, the one thing it does not do well, is group chatting. Since the majority of mobile devices out there are still iPhones, whenever I get included on a group chat initiated from an iPhone, it is impossible to follow. All the messages get broken up into separate texts and it turns into a nightmare. I have since remedied this inconvenience by using a 3rd party app known as GroupMe. I admit GroupMe does to a good job when it comes to group texts, but it does not have the ability to sync with the rest of my Google services or offer video chatting, plus the people  you are chatting with need to have this app downloaded on their phone.

You may be asking, what about iChat and Skype? Sure, they have fairly good video chatting capability, but if you have tried all 3, it becomes obvious that Google comes out ahead in categories like ease of use, quality and functionality.

This new Google Hangouts app is going to be like text messaging on steroids. The nice thing about texting is the conversation stays in a continuous stream that never stops. No matter how infrequent you talk to someone, you can pick up the conversation from where you left it last.  Google Hangouts is going to be just like this, however, now you can throw in fun things like pictures, videos, multiple people, Gchat messages, screen sharing, etc.

If I haven’t convinced you of how awesome this new app will be, check out this YouTube video from Google:

-Mike

Google+ Getting Closer

Google+ has been gaining ground on Facebook as of late. Although the numbers are still heavily in Facebook’s favor, when looking at percentage increase, Google+ is showing some encouraging signs. According to Nielsen, the average Google+ visitor spent 6 minutes and 47 seconds on the social network in March. Now when you compare that to Facebook’s average time spent for March at 6 hours and 44 minutes, there doesn’t seem to be any competition. However, when you look at the change from February to March, Google+ rose from 3.3 minutes, while Facebook fell from 7 hours and 9 minutes.

GooglePlus

Other statistics worth noting are the 20 million unique Google+ views via mobile apps, which is a 238% increase over the previous month. Desktop unique views also jumped 63% to 28 million, compared to last year. While these are great stats for Google+, one must keep in mind how far they have to go to reach Facebook. Over the same time period, Facebook had 142.1 million unique desktop visits and 99 million unique mobile visits. It will be interesting to see if Google+ can continue this upward trend. We believe Google+ has a lot of potential, especially as Facebook has been seeing declining numbers recently, but only time will tell.

-Mike