5 Reasons Brands Should Be Using Google+

By Corey Smock

Google+ is thought to be a sleeping giant: waiting quietly in the shadows of social media, resting peacefully, hoping to one day be woken up by a flurry of users and activity. For a long time that was the case, but now, with its recent rise in functionality and value toward brands, we, the people, are the only ones who appear to be asleep.

A lot of brands have a Google+ page. Very few brands know how to utilize that Google+ page. Google+ is the second most populated social media platform, yet no one knows how it works. The reason is simple: Google virtually forces you to sign up (the phrase “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is now: “If they make you join ‘em, join ‘em”).  That being said, the strategy has actually worked. Seemingly overnight, Google+ has discovered the ability to transform a brand’s image and profitability.

Here are 5 reasons brands should be using Google+:

1. Local Pages for Businesses

After creating a Local Page for Google+, you can literally put your business on the map: Google Maps. Add your business address to the page to appear on neighborhood search results, thereby increasing your reach to potential customers.

Local pages also allow customers to leave ratings and reviews.  This provides a place where people can read about positive experiences and thoughts from their peers (an increasingly reputable source).  Reviews also allow your brand the opportunity to address negative reviews head on.

Additionally, a local page allows for an expedited verification process. Once your brand is verified, Google+ provides helpful analytics to help understand your customers better, narrowing in on details such as where people are requesting driving directions from to reach your location and what they are searching for on Google to find you.

2. SEO Value

Simply using Google+ can help push your content into Google search’s top results. When you conduct a Google search, the top results are influenced by who you follow on Google+.  If one of the pages you follow shares content related to what you're searching for, that content is pushed to the top of the search results.  Therefore, the more people who follow your brand on Google+, the more likely your content is going to appear in their search results. Gone are the days of sleepless nights trying to figure out search engine optimization and countless hours ranking keywords. Just by creating great content, half of the work is done!

3. Google Helpouts

Launched last year as the adopted cousin of Hangouts, Google Helpouts are a place designed to find or provide help to anyone at anytime.  You can receive guitar lessons, help with your home garden, or demonstrations on how to ride a bike. The possibilities are endless, and brands are beginning to take advantage. Sephora and Rosetta Stone have both done an excellent job of utilizing this feature. A consumer can easily schedule a video chat to get a personal make-up demonstration or language lesson for a small cost. There are also brands like Redbeacan that provide their services at no cost. Do you have home improvement questions? Contact Redbeacon to talk to someone face-to-face right now.

Google Helpouts also allow for ratings and reviews of your services. This creates instant credibility and gives your customers the ability to narrow in on exactly what they need from the expert of their choice.

4. Effective Influencer Outreach

Circles can be your best friend as a brand. With them, you can categorize people into: leads, repeat customers, follow-ups, influencers, etc. Google+ includes an extremely useful search bar in which you can easily find individual people, pages, or topics that people are posting out. They even provide trending topics to make it easier to join the hottest conversations.

As a brand, you can connect with people and build relationships by asking questions, commenting on popular content, and sharing posts on your own page. Google has also included a feature for tagging other pages or profiles to alert them you have shared their content.

Remember: Be genuine. The more you engage the bigger your audience will grow--and the bigger your audience, the bigger your content reach extends.

SEE ALSO: 3 Things To Consider When Choosing The Perfect Influencer

5. Staying Ahead of the Game

Most of us are behind the curve when it comes to Google+. When something new comes on the scene, it can take a while before most brands get on board. By using Google+ on a regular basis, your brand will stay ahead of the competition when the next innovation makes its way onto the platform. And that day will come, sooner than we think.

We know a few things are certain when it comes to Google+: This platform isn’t going anywhere, it's constantly evolving, and your brand can benefit from using it.

BONUS: Cheat Sheet: How to Win on Google+ in 2014

How have you been successful on Google+? Share your tips in the comment section!