Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Martin Shervington, @martinsherv. Martin Shervington is the founder and community manager of ‘Plus Your Life!’ and ‘Plus Your Business!’ He spends much of his time on Google+ – See more at: http://www.martinshervington.com
SmallBizLady: Why should every small business be on Google+ now?
Martin Shervington: This is a great place to start as it is simple – do your customers use ‘Google’? Well, if they do, you want to be looking at Google+ as IT IS Google. I’ll say that again, Google+ is Google.
Google has put a social layer across its products and services, and this layer is called Google+. If you have a business, then it gives you a chance not only to easily connect with the people you want but also for your content to fly into the arms of an interested audience.
SmallBizLady: So, knowing Google+ is really Google 2.0, what are the direct business benefits?
Martin Shervington: Customers, social networking, list building, just about everything a business needs! Think of it this way…businesses need customers, and so many use Google to ‘Search’, with Google+ you can get in front of potential customers at the right time. I know this will sound a little harsh, but if you are ignoring Google+ you are really ignoring the ‘new’ Google, but your competition may not be. With Google restructuring Search it really does mean there is an opportunity to connect to customers like never before.
SmallBizLady: What about people who are already all ‘socialed out’ with Facebook and Twitter?
Martin Shervington: I get that a lot. And I think that there is no need to get social fatigue if you have a decent content creation and distribution plan. Social becomes the way for people to find and relate, to amplify your messages, and ultimately to connect with you. The other thing is that Google+ is a party like no other – as a global network (the same as Twitter) you can find and build your tribe – but in my view there are some really neat tools on Google+ that make it a lot easier to connect. Google+ is two years old now, but it is evolving so quickly and many predict it will be bigger than Facebook within 7 years for sure.
SmallBizLady: Let’s say I am convinced to get started on Google+, should I have a Profile or a Google+ Page?
Martin Shervington: Both. As a business you will almost certainly want to have brand page, and as an individual you will find people relate to you best as a ‘profile’. You can also flow information from your Page to your Profile which helps gives it legs, too. Also you want to link both up to your website.
And here is a tip for you on both – make the look and feel of the images you use ‘relatable’ as this way really helps people say “hey, I like you and want to connect!”. Also look to find like-minded people in Google+ communities, and you can even share relevant content there too – this is a great way to get a lift.
SmallBizLady: What about the Google Hover card that I hear about?
Martin Shervington: Well, the hover card appears all over the Plus, a bit like a virtual business card, so you want it to shout ‘YOU’ for your Page and your Profile. If you have a ‘good’ image and some punchy text, it will really grab people’s attention. The good thing is how you can experiment and even crowdsource people’s opinions as to what works best. The Google+ community is a really friendly bunch!
SmallBizLady: Do you think Google Hangouts have a role for businesses?
Martin Shervington: Hangouts have a HUGE role for businesses! They are both, video calls and chat, as well as being able to live stream content onto your YouTube channel. You can use them for marketing, coaching, consultancy, dietary advice, customer service, interviews – limited only by your imagination. As a business owner, think about your target audience and how you would build relationships if you could talk to them for 30 minutes. Then use Hangouts to make it so (Star Trek reference, I do apologize… :P)
SmallBizLady: How are Google Circles different from Facebook fans?
Martin Shervington: Ok, so think about it this way – how many of those ‘fans’ that you have would you say you ‘know’? Probably not a lot – what you care about is 13% of them seeing your content in their feeds. But with Google+ it is really about building a multi-dimensional relationship with people on the Google+ platform, into Google Search, across to YouTube and so on. Google circles are a way of differentiating and distributing your content to the right people at the right time.
SmallBizLady: What do you think is the best feature for a small business?
Martin Shervington: It is free. It is friendly. It is relatively new and that means you can move first in your market. The more you put in, the more you get out – which on a low marketing budget means a lot. Know you can be seen as an authority in your field by your peers and your results can show up in Google Search so much easier. That means free traffic to your website. For me, I went from almost zero to 35,000 people a month visiting my site within about a year. Would you like 35,000 potential new customers ‘popping into your shop’ each month?
SmallBizLady: What tips would you give on making time on Google+ profitable for a business?
Martin Shervington: Social takes time, so use your time wisely. I consult large through to micro businesses on how to put Google+ at the center of their strategy and would say you really need a) a plan for content creation, b) a person responsible for ‘social’ overall, c) a set of metrics which you will measure carefully, and set goals accordingly, d) and get involved with people who know better than you want to do. If you stop learning, you move backwards – and Google+ is moving quickly.
SmallBizLady: What is Social Search?
Martin Shervington: In the past there was one really prized position in Search – the #1 spot on the page. But with Google+ that has changed and now WHO you are connected influences the results that you get. As such, if you build your network then you can start to reach people like you never could i.e. they can see your content in Google Search as it could well be the most relevant for them. Also, if people share your content, then that spreads your message out into other people’s networks – once more, giving your content social legs!
SmallBizLady: What about other Google products like Google Drive and YouTube?
Martin Shervington: YouTube and Google+ are awesome together. I went from 1000 to well over 200K views on my channel – mostly about Google+ – in about a year. And with Google Drive you can run teams so efficiently, as you can use Google Circles to share content and people are able to edit/comment in the cloud, which saves you from passing files with different versions. You will see email is so outdated when you experience Google Drive.
SmallBizLady: What final tips would you give to people looking to get started today?
Martin Shervington: Many people will already have a Google+ account but not realize it! If you have Gmail then just click on the upper right and you will be taken into your profile. Then I would say you want to get started with your Profile, and start feeling your feet before you create a page. Then you want to ‘go out and meet people’ on Google+ by adding in circles, joining communities etc. And check out plusyourbusiness.com, as I have loads of free courses on everything you need to know. It will take you by the hand and show you life in the Plus. It is a great place to be.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.