27 Aug 2013

12 Most Creative Ways Businesses Can Use Google+

Look up “Google+ for business” in, well, Google — and you will find over a million results primarily focused on the search benefits Google Plus offers authors and brands. This is required reading, of course, so you can gain the optimum benefit from all the marketing you will be doing on Google Plus.
But beyond the Profile, Authorship, and Search benefits, how can you use a feature-rich social platform like Google Plus to really set your business apart from the rest? Here are twelve ways to get you started:

1. Hangouts on location for virtual tours

Hangouts are a “group chat” feature that also includes video calls with up to nine other people. If you are a realtor, a project manager, or someone else who needs to be “in the field” to walk through a project with your client or team, Hangouts are the perfect solution. The added bonus is that all the chat and photos shared into the Hangout are stored, so you can come back to them later.

2. Auto Awesome a staff photo for your cover art

Google Plus loves its photographers and has some seriously-awesome features to make your photos shine. One feature is called “Auto Awesome,” wherein a series of five or more photos uploaded to Google+ at the same time, containing roughly the same subject matter, will automatically animate. So… taking a series of photos of your staff waving “hello,” for example, then setting the animated “autoawesome’d” version as your cover photo will display everywhere your Google+ hovercard is triggered.

3. Party Mode for your awards banquet

Events created in Google Plus have a photo sharing feature built-in called “Party Mode.” If you are hosting an awards banquet or some other group function, housing the event on Google+ allows attendees to automatically upload their photos to a single location that all attendees can access. No more emailing and texting photos to each other!

4. Host a panelist virtually via Hangouts

Do you host seminars or roundtable discussions? Want to be able to bring in world authorities as panelists, without the expense of travel and lodging? Put up a screen, connect to the internet, and call them up via Hangouts. If your expert is presenting, they can even screenshare their presentation directly.

5. Use photo editing tools to create your own branded memes

As we said, Google loves its photographers. There are filters and crop tools available for the photos you upload, and you can also overlay text on your photos. Create the perfect personalized meme to go with a piece of content, for your cover photo, or maybe just to show off something funny that’s happening at the office. You can also download these pics to use elsewhere.

6. Broadcast live product demos and launches using Hangouts On Air

Your YouTube channel can be outfit as its own television network by hosting Hangouts On Air that stream live, then saved to YouTube for people to watch later. Interviews, roundtables, product demos, and even launches are all perfect candidates for Hangouts On Air. Build buzz around the event, then everyone can tune in to be the first to watch.

7. Curate and share staff, industry (or even competitor) circles

Shared circles are one of the discovery features for Google Plus users trying to find people and pages to follow. You can share circles publicly or privately. On the public side, perhaps your brand page shares a circle of team members that are on Google Plus to help your customers. Or you can share a circle of attendees to a recent event so that everybody can follow each other (who needs business cards at this point?!). You can also invite an entire circle to a Hangout for collaboration purposes.

8. Drive pins and tweets back to your Google+ posts

Google+ posts are unique in that they are treated as individual web pages that get indexed in search. This means you can tweet the link, pin the photo, and otherwise direct traffic from other social channels back to your Google+ activity. Why do this? Because from the individual post page, people can follow you directly, share, comment, and plus-one your post; all of which send social signals to Google that over time will boost your rankings in search (oops, I promised myself I wouldn’t go there).

9. Spearhead a local networking community

Google Plus Communities can literally act as virtual Chambers of Commerce. By building a vibrant, local community of business owners, you can host Events, Hangouts, share ideas and leads with each other, and find new prospects.

10. “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) events for customer feedback

Have you ever wanted to crowdsource an idea or put your CEO on the spot for some grilling? “AMA” events can be widely publicized Events on Google+ and can be huge opportunities for a business to gain exposure or build a community around its brand.

11. Embed Google Drive surveys and presentations

Google+ integrates across all its products, which means that if you create a presentation in Google Drive, you can embed it directly into a Google+ post — perfect for showcasing the recent deck your CMO presented at last week’s conference. Oh, and this works for any Google Drive document, including surveys. Users literally don’t have to leave the stream to view and interact with them.

12. Show fan appreciation using the amazing content creation tools in Google+

Whether someone left a glowing review, or you just want to give a shout out to an awesome fan, you can combine one or more of these features we talked about to put them in the spotlight. Do an interview/blog post about their experience with your product as a Hangout On Air, create some quote graphics from the Google+ Photos toolset, and share some of their own Google+ posts to your stream.

As you can see, Google+ offers a suite of features that you can mix and match to get your business some serious exposure. And once word gets out that you’re being innovative with what Google+ has to offer, influencers tend to notice… that’s when all the hard work pays off! So, what are you going to try out for your business?

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