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Google+ for Business Part 15

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* Cross-sharing only your employees' posts and other related brands will come off as cheesy. Use this as a condiment and not an entree.

* The "killer" move in sharing is to sometimes point out something interesting your compet.i.tor is doing. If Ford Motor Company can do it in the highly compet.i.tive world of automobile sales, you can consider doing it in your own business.

* Sharing your customers' and prospects' posts is a great way to encourage interaction because it shows that you care about what they're talking about just as much as you care about helping them with your own products and services.

* On Twitter, I've often said that a 12:1 them-to-you ratio of sharing is good, where you talk about other people 12 times as often as you talk about your own products and services. This wouldn't work as well on Google+, so think about it as more of a 1:4 them-to-you, such that you post or share something about someone else 1 time for every 4 times you talk about yourself. The difference is that conversations can happen under the posts and that lets you have the interaction that is important in a way that's more robust and deeper than Twitter.

Video.

Following are some pointers for posting video: * If you've not yet built a company YouTube channel, head over to YouTube.com and set one up.

* Your commercials are probably the least interesting thing you can share on Google+, unless they are hilarious and award-winning. Otherwise, skip them.

* Testimonials make for great content, especially if you focus more on making the buyer the hero and less on talking about how amazing your own products are. Keep testimonials under 3 minutes, and ask for specifics on how your customers achieved success (without pus.h.i.+ng them too hard to talk about your products and services).

* Product demos are a great way to use video for your business needs. Again, try to keep these brief. People's attention span on video is measured at less than 2 minutes. You can do longer form work, but mix that in with other shorter video posts.

* If you're a professional speaker, you can do video samples of your speeches. Presenters can do a video capture of their slide deck. Authors can read parts of their books on video. The opportunities for this are endless.

* Interviews are a great way to use video. I'm a Mac user and I use Call Recorder for Skype to shoot simple two person videos. You can also use more professional tools such as GoToMeeting with HDFaces.

* I've also used another Mac tool, Screenflow, to capture a Google Hangout with great success. Thus, if you want to capture a user group meeting or a product demo in hangouts, you can do that. Remember to be explicit that you intend to record the session, and so on. You might not need to go so far as to secure release paperwork, but that depends how you intend to use the video.

* A "behind the scenes" at your company can be fun, too. People love to see what's not normally seen. Take them on a walk through your restaurant. Invite them to part of the company barbecue (especially if you're hiring). Give your audience a glimpse into a different side of your business. It works wonders on relations.h.i.+p-building.

* Remember that Google (the search engine) can't see what goes on inside a video. Consider putting some highlights (for keyword value) in the text of your video post above the video. This also encourages people to click and watch because they'll better understand what they're getting themselves into.

* You can always add links to the post where you share the video so that if you want to point people to the product page or your service offering or your book (or whatever you're selling), you can do so. I did a video walkthrough of the various tools I use to create video, and I provided Amazon affiliate links and made quite a bit of money selling the products I mentioned in my walkthrough.

* Don't forget that you can share and curate other people's videos. If you're lucky enough to have a product or service that other people have recorded videos about, and you like the videos, share them. I watched a great user-generated video by an Audi driver who wanted to take his Audi R8 into the snow to see how it would fare. The company later put part of that user's video into an official TV commercial, but if I were an Audi dealer, I'd most definitely show that video (the original, not the commercial) as proof of why the car is a great buy.

* Some of your employees (maybe even the senior team) will do much better recording short video updates than they will with writing posts. Go with it. It's personable and gives the company a much more human face.

Hangouts.

There's no feature inside of Google+ that is more suited for being the secret sauce of your business. From internal to external uses, the Hangout is a winner. Following are a few thoughts on getting started with Hangouts: * Of course, you can always have a hangout just to have it. This is the easiest kind, where you turn on the camera and invite the public or your prospects or your internal colleagues to just have a conversation. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

* Customer service can offer "office hours" for your customers, such that people can get video-supported help. This is especially useful if the product is something in which visual can help. Screen sharing also can take place, which is helpful.

* You can offer cla.s.ses and tutorials. Think about how much more fun it would be to use your new yo-yo, if you got lessons from a yo-yo master. (Do you sell yo-yos?) * Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, uses hangouts to talk about interesting news related to his company and the industry at large. It's a cool opportunity, if you've got the company or team that people want to know about. If you're the best roofer in Schenectady, that might not be a great way to use a hangout.

* My favorite possible use is to connect an expert in the field you service to the people who might normally use your product. For instance, if you sell running shoes, how cool would it be to have Dean Karnazes on to talk about what it takes to run ultramarathons? If you are a publisher, why not have a quick writing lesson from Chuck Palahniuk?

* With hangouts, remember that moderation is a tricky beast. I've already been in a few hangouts where people have come in and caused a bit of a ruckus, so be aware that it could happen to you. I imagine Google+ will implement better moderation tools in the future.

* Hangouts in the time of important news would be interesting, too. You can have "roving reporters" at your company events. You might even set up your event to answer a few questions from the hangout.

* Walkthroughs can be fun if you do a mobile hangout or if you use a laptop and Wi-Fi. Imagine taking someone on a tour of your restaurant in real time. It's not the kind of thing that fits neatly into a repeatable strategy, but it most definitely would leave a lasting impression from time to time.

* Finally, and somewhat related to my "pairing experts with your community" opportunity, it could be fun to pay for some sponsored conversations. For instance, as mentioned in the business pages chapter, if Forbes invited in Warren Buffett for a talk, and people could join the hangout, that would make for some compelling content (and potentially a premium revenue stream for Forbes).

Photos.

Sharing photos on Google+ is a powerful tool. Many experiences start around a simple photo share. Following are some tips for photo sharing: * If you have products, by all means, post a few photos into Google+. People will find them interesting. If there are concept sketches, share those, too. Everyone loves the back story.

* One interesting point about sharing photos when considering your business objectives is that pictures with people can warm up your story. Put a photo of a happy buyer (not stock photography) on your page and share a testimonial. It will get more engagement every time.

* Put a photo with any post of text that you do, no matter what. People engage more with posts that contain a photo. Don't believe this? It's simple to test. Post something with a photo and post something without to see how many comments, pluses, and shares you get on each. It will almost invariably be the piece with a photo that gets shared and interacted with more.

Commenting.

Commenting is an important (and often overlooked) part of using any social network, including Google+. If you're not commenting, you're missing the chance to take an interaction beyond the eye-batting and into the "get ready for a kiss" stage (to paraphrase Carrie Wilkerson). Following are some tips for commenting: * Be the #1 contributor to the comments on your pages (your user account and/or your business page). If someone spends time talking with you, do your best to comment back. Don't methodically answer every comment that comes in, but try to add something when people comment. It makes them feel seen and heard. (True story: As I wrote this part of the post, I realized that I hadn't walked this talk today, so I stopped writing this part of the book, ran back to my Google+ account, and started commenting back on what people had shared with me.) * One of the best ways to find more people who want to circle you is to comment in meaningful (and never spammy) ways on other people's posts. If you find posts that would be of interest to your community, share something useful that isn't self-promoting, and you'll likely pick up new followers who will add you to their circle. Commenting is usually where I find new people to circle these days.

* Comments are a great way to add more flavor to an initial post. Start by posting, then see what people say initially, and flavor the rest of the conversation by adding comments and supporting material.

* Remember that this is the same as in sales conversations, education on a product, or anything else you might do in person or over the phone. Just also remember that this is "in public" and if you're working to resolve a customer service issue, it might be best to take it offline, so you can interact better and resolve the problem together.

* Negative comments are a blessing. Spam is one thing. Push the spam b.u.t.ton. But do not delete negative comments, if they are reasonable. Censors.h.i.+p based on sentiment is never a good policy. Swearing, sure, delete those. Is a comment not related to the conversation and content? Fine, delete it. But do not delete comments simply because they are negative or critical of your company. Respond. Do your best to turn the situation around. Never fight, but also don't kowtow. A whole book could be written around what to do and what not to do with the opportunity gifted to you by a negative comment.

Business Pages.

Following are some guidelines for creating your business pages: * "Live" in your page and post there before you start promoting it. People who come to a business page with one or two posts and barely any information on the about page won't likely be sticking around. Treat the page with some care and feeding before you try to grow a community around it.

* Seek community members by commenting intelligently with your individual account on various posts, and by creating interesting information on your personal posts, with a link to your new business page.

* Realize that a Google+ business page is a great "outpost" to connect with people where they're already using social networks, and that it is best used as an adjunct to your primary web presence, your "home base." This strategy hasn't changed much in a few years and doesn't change with Google+.

* Think of your business page as a TV station, a magazine, and a fancy business card. The goal isn't to get people to fall in love with your business page. The goal is to do business.

* In creating interesting posts via your business page, realize that most people want to get a sense of belonging. Talking about yourself (your company) on your business page all the time is like going to a c.o.c.ktail party and when you meet people, talking all about your stuff without asking them about themselves.

Some Final Thoughts.

It's the end of the Google+ for Business book, at least the first edition of it. If you've made it this far, you clearly have an interest in using this great new social medium. I've been fortunate enough to talk with many of the early adopters of this platform who work in various levels of business, and I have also spoken with some of the people who cover the emerging technology industry, such as Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist for the Macintosh and serial entrepreneur and bestselling author. We concur that Google+ has a big shot at being a long-lasting and successful platform for doing business.

If I can leave you with one lasting piece of advice that transcends the actual technology of Google+, it's this: People do business with people they like. This is one of those simple sentences that people nod about, and then they go back to interacting in ways that don't encourage a lot of "like-ability." When faced with marketers and business owners asking me about these technologies and how they drive business growth, I'm always asked for the "fastest," the "cheapest," and the "easiest" way to "use" social media to grow business.

Fast. Cheap. Easy. This works great with hamburgers. It doesn't usually work well with relations.h.i.+ps that you hope to have lasting value. The truth is, social media business tools don't scale well. Nothing I've explained in this book is as "easy" as putting out a huge advertising campaign that blankets billboards, buses, radios, and televisions. Nothing here is as "fast" as giving your customers a phone tree to navigate instead of a warm human voice. Nothing I espouse in these practices is as "easy" as beating your email list until your buyer buys something (once).

Loyalty isn't fast, cheap, or easy. Valuable customers/clients aren't fast, cheap, or easy. Success doesn't come fast, cheap, or easy. Starting from the position of, "How can I do this in the least amount of time, with the least effort, and get the most return on my effort?" is the worst way to think about your use of social networks and social media. First, it doesn't sound like you're putting any effort into that. Do you know what they call a fat person who has a gym members.h.i.+p? A fat person who has a gym members.h.i.+p. Know what they call that same person should they choose to use the gym members.h.i.+p over months and years? Successful and fit.

Also think about this: Never invest solely in the platform. Invest in your buyer. Go where they are. If Google+ comes and goes, as all things do, you'll want to have used your time wisely on the platform, by building relations.h.i.+ps with your buyers and your prospects. Spend money on people, not the platform. Spend money on being able to afford the time to build relations.h.i.+ps of value for your company. The benefits over time (want a great metric: lifelong dollar value of your happy customers) is the endgame.

A Note About This Book.

Because this technology is a moving target, I'll be keeping a running log of updates to the book at my personal blog, http://chrisbrogan.com, thanks to the people at Que publis.h.i.+ng. If you want to follow along and stay updated with any changes and additions to the original book (in between editions), bookmark the following secret-to-you URL: http://chrisbrogan.com/gplusb12 This page is pa.s.sword protected, and your pa.s.sword is friend (Nerds who have read a certain series of books featuring a wizard long before anyone had ever heard of Hogwarts might appreciate the reference.) You and I will stay in touch about the updates there. Work for you?

And if you want to connect with me on Google+, I'd love to hear from you. Reach me by going to http://chrisbrogan.com/plus.

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