As a Facebook and Twitter competitor, Google+ never really stood a chance, certainly not after Instagram charged on the scene (and to a lesser degree Tumblr, Snapchat, WhatsApp and YikYak).
From the confusing design to weird names (remember sparks?), it seemed doomed from the start. Even Google Authorship, which promised to turn us all into instant thought leaders, failed to pan out.
And yet, every few months, a new social media or search blog article would surface declaring that businesses absolutely needed to be on Google+, which left a lot of CMOs pretty frustrated.
If you’re not-so-secretly relieved that Google+ as a social network is dead, you’re not alone. A lot of business owners I’ve spoken with struggled to find value in the platform.
“To be honest, while we have a Google+ account, we were never that active from a social media standpoint,” says Yi Pan at BuySellRam. “Our marketing team always found other networks, like Twitter, to be much better for real-time interaction. At BuySellRam, we’re in the business of solving other business’s secure technology disposal problems, so we’re far more likely to pick up a new client thanks to an off-hand Twitter comment about what to do with old equipment.”
Related Article: What’s Really Going On With Google+?
Yi is completely correct in her assessment, which is why Google+ was a tough sell for most businesses. Who wanted to essentially double post Facebook or Twitter content onto another network?
While we can now all agree that Google+ as a social network may be a failed experiment, the platform still has value for businesses. This is especially true for smaller, local businesses that need to connect with potential customers via local mobile search.
Is your business struggling to make sense of all the changes? You’re not alone. I talk with a lot of CMOs these days who are scratching their heads about Google+ and not sure what it is now or if it’s even relevant. Read on for answers to your top Google+ questions:
Wait, Google+ Still Exists? I Thought It Was Dead
Last year, Google restructured Google+ to focus on “Collections” and “Communities”. While Google+ struggled over the years with its identity, the move toward shared passions and photography is a smart one.
Sharing photos and connecting with folks who share your passion for Star Wars or Mac computers is a far more viable use of the network than trying to compete with Facebook or Twitter as the go-to for real-time content discovery and sharing. Events and hangouts are both missing from the Google+ dashboard.
The biggest change for business owners is Google My Business: it’s the master dashboard combination for Google Plus, Google Maps and Google Search (and confusingly enough also the latest iteration of Google Places).
Related Article: Social Media Head-to-Head: How Do Twitter and Google+ Differ?
How Do I Get Started With Google My Business?
Do you have a business listing or old Google+ account for your business? Then you’re already up and running. Think of Google My Business as the master dashboard that connects your businesses directly with customers whether they’re looking for you via a Google Search, Google Maps or Google+.
From this master hub you’ll be able to manage everything associated with your account, including your business name, its address, and phone number. This basic NAP data is what’s visible in search results, so it’s absolutely critical you keep it up to date.
Google auto-generates listing information for businesses, so if you haven’t claimed your listing, stop reading this article and do so right now. Here’s what you need to do to claim your Google listing.
Is Google My Business Important for Large Companies, Too?
I’m going to squash this misconception once and for all: you don’t have to be a small, mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar storefront to use Google My Business. Yes, optimizing your Google My Business is incredibly important for being found in local search. I believe that doing so will drive more clicks and calls than any other marketing channel. But Google My Business doesn’t stop there.
“Google Business is essential to every type of business. Even if you’re not using the Internet to bring in leads, your potential clients are using Google to find things, such as your business hours, directions, client reviews, and contact phone numbers. Having outdated business information can even represent your business negatively.” says Brian Gomez of CondorWeb.
Think of Google My Business as the master dashboard for all things related to your company. It’s not just about getting your business listed in the local search results: it’s about providing would-be consumers with a comprehensive overview of your products, services and brand values.