Small business guide to Google+

Interview with Chris Brogan

Google+ Business Page Strategies from Chris Brogan

We had an opportunity to interview best-selling author Chris Brogan.

His company, Human Business Works, helps companies with customer acquisition, nurturing and engaging potential customers, and community building.  

His books Trust Agents and Social Media 101 are excellent resources for any small business owner who wants to use social media to promote his or her business effectively. And Chris Brogan's blog is ranked #6 in the AdAge Power150 top marketing blogs.

Brogan's new book Google+ for Business: How Google's Social Network Changes Everything is all about helping businesses understand how to use Google+ to network and engage with fans and customers.  .

In this interview, you'll learn:

  • Why Every Business Should Create a Page in Google+
  • How Google+ is Drastically Different than Facebook
  • Why Chris Advocates Businesses to Actively Post in Google+ (Unlike in Facebook)
  • Smart Ways Businesses Can Utilize YouTube Hangouts in Google+
  • What Types of Circles Your Business Might Want to Create
  • And Much More

Read the complete interview with Chris Brogan about Google+ . . .

Chris, you have been a Google+ evangelist since the beginning. You even abandoned Facebook to devote more of your time to Google+. When did you realize that Google+ was more important for your business than Facebook?

Chris: Facebook works well as a platform to connect me with people I already know, like friends and family and old work colleagues. Google+ connects me with people who are like-minded, and who share similar interests. Which set of people are more apt to help me land a client? Google+. My friends and family referrals can only stretch so far. Because most businesses rely on the kindness of strangers to survive, I recommend Google+.

Business owners might feel that maintaining a Facebook page and a Twitter account is enough. How is Google+ different and why should businesses create a page and begin writing/sharing engaging content?

Chris: Two or three years ago, it was difficult to convince a business owner that Facebook or Twitter was worth it. Now, they're not willing to transition to the newest network, run by the biggest search engine in the world? I'm fascinated by this digging in. It shows that business owners aren't seeing the platforms for what they are: a gathering place where potential prospects can be invited into a business relationship. Saying no to the biggest up-and-coming social network run by one of the richest companies on the planet seems a lot short-sighted.

You wrote Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything to provide advice on leveraging Google+ to improve business communication, content promotion, and much more. Aside from social networking, what are ways businesses will benefit by owning a page in Google’s ecosystem?

Chris: 69% of people start their online activity around a need with search. The number one search engine in the world, Google, has opened a social network to help people better interact with and find what they want. Posting information to the public on Google+ immediately impacts search results because Google (the search engine) indexes Google+ (the social network). If three out of four humans start their search to fulfill their needs with a search engine, why wouldn't you want even more potential opportunity to interact with those searchers?

When business owners first create their pages, they might feel lonely since they are unable to circle people (until first circled back). What is your advice for them to help them get noticed and added into relevant circles?

Chris: I'm almost sad that business pages have already launched. So many people didn't take the opportunity to make relationships happen before those pages landed, and now they're wondering why no one is rushing in to circle their company page. Humans make relationships. Humans do the footwork before the business page comes into view. I knew Esteban Contreras from Samsung long before I saw the Samsung page. We'd interacted a lot. When the Samsung USA page opened, I circled it right away due to my affinity for Esteban. I'm friends with Jennifer Cisney from Kodak, and so I interacted with her page long before Kodak opened up a presence. The same is true for your business. Humans connect. Make a relationship and the business page will get some traction. But don't wait for that. Think of the business page as a business card. Would you ever let a salesman wait around to sell until he or she had a business card?

During your Google+ Business Webinar in November 2011, you suggested that businesses should think about posting every six hours. This is a much more aggressive posting strategy than businesses might be used to (especially compared to Facebook). Why should businesses be active on Google Plus?

Chris: Google+ is tied to Google, the search engine. The more opportunities you have to influence potential direction of prospects to your business is a positive thing. I also think that because it's a new and budding network, that more "seeding" has to happen to keep people interested. I note that larger companies are still only posting once a day at present. Then again, they don't get the engagement I'm seeking.

What types of circles should businesses think about creating so that they can message the right people with the right kind of content?

Chris: It depends on the business. Intel has three circles: tech enthusiasts, press stuff, and life at Intel. They split it that way. If you're a plumber, you probably don't have plumbing enthusiasts (then again, what do I know?). Circles for my professional page include "prospects, collaborators, colleagues, allies, and unknown." I use those to sort people so that I don't upset any particular group by sharing too much (or the wrong) information.

What are some ways small businesses could utilize YouTube hangouts in Google+?

Chris: Hangouts are live video events. You can have up to 10 people in a hangout (the host +9). To me, they are a great way to handle customer service issues, a wonderful way to do training/education, a great method by which to share business advice, to have meetings, to consult, and more. Hangouts are one of the best features of Google+. YouTube videos shared on Google+ get a lot more engagement by a higher caliber of person. I find that comments on YouTube itself are useless. On Google+, I have the exact opposite experience.

When Google+ page analytics gets introduced, what type of data do you think will be helpful to business owners – and how can they use this data?

Chris: Analytics will help people see what type of content they share drives what level of engagement. They will also see more click-through activity, more sense of how long someone interacts with your profile and/or other parts of your account, and more. It will really help people decide what to spend their time on.

How do you envision successful Google+ business pages will operate in the future?

Chris: Google hinted at what business pages would do with Google Places. With Google+, once Places integrates with business pages, and given all the other tools you can use on Google+, I believe that this network will be a very robust and de facto part of business communication and collaboration.