Although Google Plus (also known as Google+) is a social media site in which users can play games, chat, share photos, listen to music together, and more, it has become much more important in the eyes of business owners.

Google+ is now one of the leading ways in which businesses can connect and engage with customers, promote services, hold business meetings, and market to a wider audience.

As Google+ continues to unfold more and more features for its business users, such as local listings and verified content, now is the time for companies and/or brands to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

Never before has a social networking site been able to cater and provide so much to local business owners at no expense at all the way Google+ does.

Here’s why:

1. 100 Million Users and Growing: Google+ is relatively new to social networking, establishing itself only in 2011, whereas sites such as Facebook and Twitter had already been around for several years.

However, unlike other social networking sites, Google+ gained over 25 million users within a month of its launch, making it the fastest growing social networking site in the history of time.

Currently, there are a little over 100 million users on Google+, and this number is expected to grow. Combined with business-friendly features, Google+ makes it relatively simple for local companies to reach out to masses of people who they otherwise may not have been able to reach.

2. Communities: Google+ Communities give you the perfect opportunity to personally engage with like-minded businesses and individuals. You can create your own community for your business and invite your followers, and you can also join other communities which will give your business added exposure.

You’ll be able to post videos, photos, and documents, as well as send out as many community invitations as you choose.

3. Local Listings: Once you join Google+, you’ll have the opportunity to list your business in Google Places for Business. You’ll also be able to provide pertinent details regarding your business, such as services offered, hours of operation, and directions.

Additionally, people are able to leave reviews of your company for others to see. A simple verification process ensures that your business is legitimately yours, thus providing more credibility to your customers and potential customers.

4. Customer Service/Interaction: One of the most beneficial ways in which Google+ allows your local business to grow is the ease of customer service and interaction. You can easily reply to customer requests and concerns via your circles, your communities, and more.

Keep in mind that along with responding to questions, it’s always a good idea to actively engage in comments, including showing interest in your followers, on a regular basis. The more often you engage with your audience, the better chances of gaining new customers and retaining current ones.

5. Google Hangouts: Hangouts differ from communities in that you’ll have the option to host a live video session with whoever you invite to “hang out.” Hangouts help businesses grow by providing an alternate means to hold employee meetings, presentations, workshops, share pertinent documents, and more. You’ll also be provided the opportunity to save your Hangouts for reference by saving each one to YouTube.

6. 360° Tours with Google+ Business Photos: With Google+ Business Photos, people can view photos of your business via a 360° interactive tour. This provides you the perfect opportunity to allow potential customers a detailed glimpse inside your company.

Viewers can virtually explore, walk around, and interact with your business while sitting comfortably at home or on their smartphones. In addition to appearing on Google+, these photos appear in Google search, Google+ Local, and Google Maps.

You can also embed images on other social media sites as well as your business website.

7. Google Circles: With Google Circles, you can easily add your followers into different groups, known as circles, which allows you to targets specific people for your business.

For example, you may want to announce a business event, which wouldn’t be relevant to your customers, but is important for your employees to know about.

Likewise, you can target your customers and potential customers only, should you decide to run a special or announce an upcoming contest. This way, your followers aren’t bogged down with irrelevant information which will keep them from “muting” your future posts.

8. Google Ripples: A relatively new Google+ feature, but one that’s caught on quickly is Ripples. Google+ Ripples is an interactive tool that allows you to see how a certain post has “rippled” by providing data on your shared posts.

For example, Google+ Ripples shows you who shared your post, how it was shared, and the statistics for each shared post, such as how many shares, demographics, and more. This in turn provides you with information on who finds your posts interesting and relevant, which may equal new business for you.

9. Verify Ownership of Your Content: Once you link your company website, blog, or any other site you own to your Google+ profile, you’ll automatically be verified as the authentic owner of the content you provide.

This helps prevent acts of plagiarism and copywriting. This also helps your business by letting people know that you are the true owner of your content, thus boosting your company’s credibility.

Additionally, your Google+ photo will appear next to each of your content pieces in Google search results, which will help to boost you and your company’s visibility.

10. Google Maps: This option mainly applies to business owners who are located in a rural area and/or small town, as Google Business Photos are only available in large cities.

However, Google Maps, when combined with Google+, can provide you with a competitive alternative. When people click on the map icon located in the lower-right hand corner of the map view on your page, they’ll be taken to a local map, which provides a 360° exterior view of rural, small, and outlying towns.

Filed under: Google for YOUR Business

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