Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with@KimBeasley. Kim Beasley is a speaker, author, educator and web developer who knows first-hand the trials and tribulations of starting a small business. Kim has over 15 years of professional expertise in the areas of social media, project management, web development, database management, telecommunication, sales, technology, technical training documentation, and human resources.
Kim’s social media marketing firm, Social Media Tool Coach (http://SocialMediaToolCoach.com) focuses on helping small business owners develop their online presence. To connect with her, please visit http://FullyFollow.me/kimbeasley or on Google+: http://plus.ly/kimbeasley
Smallbizlady: Why is it important for small business owners to be using social media?
Kim Beasley: Social media is changing the face of business today. Through social media, businesses can now reach a wider audience. This wasn’t available years ago but today social media is as much a part of business as weekly staff meetings. It’s a vital component.
Smallbizlady: We’ve been hearing the buzz about Google + lately, can you tell us how it works?
Kim Beasley: Google+ came about as Google’s way of competing with social media heavy hitters like Facebook. Through the development of Google+ users can now connect easily with their target audience as well as others within their business network. Facebook has fans; Google+ has circles. You can creatively design your circles to fit your needs. Google+ may have just been introduced last year but it is already changing the face of business today.
Smallbizlady: I understand that they have “Hangouts” on Google+— what is that exactly?
Kim Beasley: Hangouts are an area of Google+ where the user and nine other people within their circles can video chat. It is a great feature and really allows you to get that face-to-face experience. We have become a society of traditional and online businesses. In the virtual world it is often hard to put a face with a name. Through Google+ Hangouts — you now can connect easily with your staff and customers easily through this video chat feature.
Smallbizlady: I hear that there is a new “on-air” option with these hangouts. What makes that so different?
Kim Beasley: Google+ Hangouts were already a valuable business tool however you were limited to adding only nine members from your circle. So anyone over that nine was left out in the cold, so to speak. Now with the Hangout on Air feature, anyone who wants to get in on your video chat can watch the video streaming live via YouTube. So you no longer have to worry about others not being able to get the information you’re putting out there. It’s a great way to have a conference and allow others to view what’s going on so they don’t miss anything important. This live streaming option is just another way Google is enhancing Google+.
Smallbizlady: You keep mentioning circles. How can you use circles in Google+?
Kim Beasley: Circles are your groups within Google+. You can create circles based on your business and life. For example, if you are running an online business you may have a circle for your staff, a circle for customers, and a circle for vendors. For your personal life you may have circles for family, friends, and acquaintances. Circles are the people you connect with and know based on a common topic, interest or relation. You can literally create circles for every aspect of your life.
Smallbizlady: Since Google+ is still new to many people, how can someone increase their exposure?
Kim Beasley: There are several ways: 1. Add a Google+ badge to your site to drive traffic to your page. Allow people to add your Google+ page directly. 2. Run ads through AdWords pointing to your page. Make what you’re doing to Google+ visible to Google users everywhere. 3. Promote your page through other marketing (email, offline) and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook). You’ve spent years building loyal follower bases that are interested in your content. Make sure they see it! The key is to drive traffic to your Google+ profile just as you would any other site you have.
Smallbizlady: So is a profile just for an individual or can a business set up a profile?
Kim Beasley: Originally profiles were being used by both individuals and businesses as well. However, Google wanted to find a way to enhance business exposure and separate the two so they have created Google+ pages for businesses to set up their profiles on. It’s similar to Facebook pages but with the features of the Google+ site.
Smallbizlady: Is there a maximum amount of friends or contacts that you have on your Google+ profile?
Kim Beasley: Yes, Google has a maximum of 5,000 contacts that a person can have, which is still a large network. Hopefully as time goes on they will increase this limit.
Smallbizlady: How can you sign up for a google+ account?
Kim Beasley: The process to signup is very easy. Just go to http://plus.google.com to signup with your Gmail email address (required). Then make sure that you are ready to add your profile picture and create your personal profile. The whole process could take 5 – 15 minutes. You can learn more about it by visiting: http://support.google.com/plus/
Smallbizlady: How does Google+ fit into your life or career?
Kim Beasley: It has become a key part to me staying in contact with my peers in the social media marketing industry. I’ve been able to find potential business partners that I have wanted to add to my online efforts.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/S797e
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.