When Google+ first launched as a social network, those who were brave enough to venture beyond LinkedIn were virtually overwhelmed by amazing features that Google+ had to offer – all in one social networking site.
As of March 2013, the awesome Google+ features are even more attractive to the professional community through Google+ Pages. Google+ Pages is something that businesses and professionals should get excited about. The tools and features that Google+ offers are not only engaging and easy to use, but they are powerful marketing and lead generation tools as well.
The first exciting feature that Google+ users interact with are Circles. Circles give you the ability to segment your connections and audiences. For everyone involved in marketing a business, this tool is incredibly powerful. Google+ has given everyone the ability to tailor messages to a specific audience with incredible ease.
This level of audience segmentation opens the doors to creating specific communication strategies for every type of connection you might have. For instance, you might want to share a project portfolio with your clients, but you would rather send your premium content to potential prospects. This can be accomplished very easily by creating different circles for each target group.
Many of the Google+ features are similar to other social networks and Google+ Communities have a great deal in common with LinkedIn Groups. Communities allow you to join other Google+ users in discussions around specific topics that are interesting to you. They are a great way to share content and build connections. Google+ users tend to be active and willing to participate in discussions and are eager to make those connections.
One advantage that the Google+ Communities has over LinkedIn Groups is usability. The Google+ interface is incredibly user friendly, which means finding new communities to join is simple. Google+ will also suggest other communities that relate to your interests. Communities provide Google+ users with the potential to actively increase their social influence and share their content to a broader audience.
Photo sharing is one of the most popular activities in social media. This is a Google+ feature that truly sets the social network apart. On the personal side, there is great attraction Instagram because it’s easy to use and users can apply a cool filter effect to photos. Google+ lets you edit photos directly in Google+ before posting them.
This provides an interesting opportunity to professionals who share photos. The Google+ app can link directly with the photos you take on your phone as well, enabling users to instantly share images with their network away from their computers. The Photo feature of Google+ gives you an added edge in social media by sharing great looking photos and showcasing your personality. In particular, the use of Instagram can be useful in projecting a professional services firm’s culture.
Corporate events, speaking engagements, and trade shows are all important parts of a marketing plan. Google+ Events makes it very easy to share events online in a really cool way. It is a great feature where you can post your upcoming events on Google+ and notify your various circles about the events they might be interested in.
But the best part of Events is how they can take an event and maximize its social benefit. Other users can join your event in Google+ and post pictures from the event to that event page. For instance, you could run a promotion from a trade show that would reward the best picture from the event that was shared. This allows you to boost engagement and increase your social visibility.
Events has the potential to showcase a professional event in the social networking world, reaching a far greater audience than would be possible otherwise.
Probably the most impactful tool in the Google+ arsenal is Hangouts. Google+ is the only social network that has live video conferencing, a free tool through Google+ Hangouts. This is a truly fantastic feature for professionals to connect with clients, prospects, and partners.
You can use Hangouts for anything from a regular conversation to a full presentation with screen sharing. Using Google Drive, you can open and review documents live in Hangouts. Hangouts are also recordable and can be posted directly to YouTube. As an example, a savvy professional could use Hangouts to create a series of client testimonials or even a webinar presenting their latest research findings.
Many recognized thought leaders and celebrities use Hangouts to facilitate a live conversation or interview, which is recorded and then posted. The applications for free video conferencing through social media are truly only limited by your creativity. Take advantage of the fun effects that will make your hangout entertaining with added personality.
While there is a huge novelty factor associated with this platform, determining which aspects of Google+ are most suited to your firm’s outreach goals is critical. Google+ features many different and powerful tools that can provide a significant benefit to a firm’s social media strategy. The features and tools provided by Google+ are enough to warrant its inclusion into every professional service’s social media strategy.
For tips on social media networking, check out our Online Lead Generation Guide.