Google+ is becoming increasingly popular for business users, gaining ground over other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and offering more significant benefits for your business.
So why should you join Google+ if you haven't already? And why should it become an integral and important part of your content marketing strategy?
1. Make Connections
You can use Google+ to share and further disseminate your content, and by doing so you'll attract an audience to you who you'd otherwise struggle to reach.
But why not stick with Facebook or LinkedIn? Why is Google+ different?
Google+ expert Chris Brogran makes the case that whereas Facebook generally acts as the place to interact with friends and others you already know, Google+ is more open and enables you to connect with people who have interests similar to your own. In so doing, it gives you more opportunities to do business.
LinkedIn is more generally associated with business, but people tend to use it poorly, with users receiving countless 'spammy' prospecting messages, and generally using it to keep resumes up to date and find new jobs. It's also less open than Google+ and is built on the premise that you connect with people you already know.
Google+ facilitates easy and open connections with people you don't yet know, and an easy way to build relationships with people who share interests similar to your own.
And speaking personally ... it feels far more pleasant and easy to use.
2. Facilitate Communication
With email open rates generally declining, email volumes increasing, and the job of getting your emails seen harder, it makes good business sense to have as many means of communicating with your prospects as possible.
In Google+, you can organize your contacts in different circles, and then you can send them messages depending on which circle they are in. As an example, you could have prospects in one circle, affiliates in another, key business contacts in another, and so on.
When you post on Google+, you can then choose to make it public, or restrict access to specific circle(s).
You can also communicate on a more personal level via Google Hangouts, in which you can have up to 100 people at a time for a chat session, or up to 10 people at a time for a video call.
3. Search Engine Visibility
Your activity on Google+ directly impacts the search engine rankings (SERPs) in various ways.
For example, someone following you on Google+ will see your content higher in the SERPs than they would do otherwise, which can only increase their sense of your authority and expertise.
Results in the SERPs are also given higher prominence when someone you are following has +1'ed some content. In brief, that means the search engine results someone sees are directly impacted by who they choose to be influenced by (i.e. follow) on Google+.
So, the more followers you can build on Google+, the more influence and greater SEO benefit you'll enjoy.
Furthermore, quality content is key.
The consistent and regular production of quality content acts firstly as a magnet for followers, building your following over time with quality leads.
Secondly, quality content increases your chances of someone +1'ing your content and bringing you a lot of exposure as a result, especially where that person has a large following. Cheap, keyword-stuffed content written for the search engines simply no longer cuts it (thankfully).
You'll also find that a post on Google+ can be far easier to rank and gain online visibility than a post on your own blog for example. The larger your Google+ following, the more search engine visibility you'll enjoy.
4. Google Authorship
You can (in fact, you should) link your Google+ account to content you have created, so that Google knows you created the content and can credit you accordingly.
Known as Google Authorship, you get a couple of important benefits:
A. Increased search engine visibility (notice a pattern here?!) as a result of your profile picture appearing adjacent to your content in the listings. This results in higher click-through to your site, and an impression of increased credibility and authority of the author when they do so. That's iimportant when the first impression can be all-important in building the relationship that eventually leads to the sale.
B. As you start to build author rank, Google begins to understand your authority and credibility, which forms a further part of their ranking metrics, and is likely to play an increasing part going forward.
But apart from these four reasons provided, I've perhaps so far missed the most important factor.
Google owns both the first and second largest search engines in the world, and Google+ will become one of the most important components in determining your own online visibility.
Can you really afford not to take Google+ seriously and make it a key component of your content marketing strategy?