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Recently, Google launched a program to help small businesses set up their own websites known as ‘Get Your Business Online’. This program was in about 20 countries including Brazil, UK and Kenya. A study conducted by BIA/Kelsey reveals that these days, almost 97% of consumers turn to the Internet to search and research products/services in their local area. A stage has come where it is imperative for businesses to have an online presence. Ad-ology conducted a research in 2009 revealing that only 54% of small businesses had a website. However, its most recent research in Small Business Marketing Forecast 2012 establishes that 82% of small businesses have a web presence. In the past, Google has launched Google+, a social media channel to help small businesses. Let’s take a look into Google+ and how it can help your small business grow.

Advantages of Using Google+

  • Google helps to circle your clients – Google+ helps businesses of every size connect with their customers. Google+ helps connect you with your target audience as well as the people within their business network. Google circle’s is similar to fans on Facebook and it is up to you to design your circles to blend and fit your needs.
  • Hangouts help you interact face to face – There is a feature on Goolge+ called ‘Hangouts’ where it allows you to hold video chat to connect with employees and customers. Google+ enables you to put a face with a name in the virtual world and helps to establish stronger customer relationships. Hangouts On Air is a new feature Google+ launched where anyone who can join or watch a video conference in real time. The video can later be seen on YouTube or Google+.
  • Improves your search engine ranking – Google search engine indexes the content that is posted on Google+ business pages. Therefore it will do wonders to your SEO and give you the extra added exposure you need. When someone clicks the +1 button of your website, it will generate 3.5 times more traffic. Therefore, include this feature on your website.

Tips for increasing your brand Awareness on Google+

  • Open your account with your real name – The customers are particular about authenticity of any business they want to deal with. When you open an account with your name, it will signify your authentic presence. It is not just the consumers who will look you up by name, but the investors as well.
  • Create Google+ Circles logically – You should organize your business partners, employees, investors and friends into separate circles. This allows you to set privileges for your blog posts and photos.
  • Post occasional coupons and specials – You can engage with your visitors and customers by carefully posting special coupons during festivals or the holiday seasons.
  • Send private messages - You can type private messages to those who are interested in your products/services. It’s as simple as typing the message and removing the Public Circle to those that are shared and only share it with the customer.
  • Regularly check for notification alerts on the upper right side of the screen - Here you can see who is following you, the new comments on your blogs and so on.
  • Use the feature Sparks to track the latest topic – Add the search keyword to get the latest news and trend in your industry.
  • Make use of the +1 feature - When you see a blog post you like, click the +1 so everyone, including the author of the blog, knows you have the read the story and liked it. This will increase the engagement with like minded users.

At the moment, it is too early to give a whole hearted opinion about Google+. You can say that it is more of a business minded social media application than a recreational one. But it is a tool here to stay and all small business owners should make use of it as a PR outlet, advertising, promotions and get your message across to your audience with just a click.

Flickr image by Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net

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