As of May 2013, there were 359 million users on Google+, yet the network still remains a mystery for many small to medium size businesses when it comes to leveraging its audience and gaining traction utilizing its many unique features.
Understanding how your business can effectively spend time on Google+ is important since the platform has been integrated across most of Google’s other services, including Google’s search engine.
Many businesses have found success using Google+ by using the platform’s specific features to articulate their unique voice and connect with a relevant audience that is engaged with the brand.
Here are 10 top brands doing a successful job at marketing themselves on Google+, as well as what you can learn from their achievements on the platform:
Sports are an innately social experience, which Nike on Google+ takes full advantage of with their following. They are effective at highlighting the stories around each sport they are associated with to better tie in the brand and its unique perspective. When posting videos and images, Nike makes sure to balance their posts about each sport to make sure coverage is equal and most importantly, interesting. A few product announcements are also done on Google+ as well, to drive more attention to their best sellers across the brand that are relevant to the predominantly male Google+ audience.
Vary the Content and Themes Posted: Highlight a variety of your products, services and themes of coverage when it comes to the content your business decides to post on Google+. Post a few times a month to your page and share some of your most engaging and social moments either repurposed in a new light from other social channels or exclusive to your Google+ audience.
Sephora has been very active on Google+ since the beginning, even though their audience is predominantly women and Google+ is mainly a platform made up of men. As a brand they’ve done a few different things to connect with their audience in an interesting way. The best approach is always to share your unique perspective with your followers that reflect the features and limitations of the social network you are active on, which is exactly how Sephora approaches their Google+ community.
Sephora shares original GIFs with their audience, features their top sellers among their different products categories, updates their visuals frequently, makes use of multiple hashtags throughout their posts, repurposes their Vines for sharing and hosts Google+ Hangouts on Air to stand out with their audience. Each piece of content that is shared on their page is from a larger, consistent campaign that covers the various themes that Sephora is addressing that month or quarter.
Never Be Afraid to Experiment on Google+: The main point to takeaway from Sephora’s Google+ presence is to never be afraid to experiment with all the features and facets of the social network. By constantly trying out each feature of Google+, Sephora was able to learn what is working and not working for their brand on the platform. You don’t know what the results of an activity will be unless you give your best efforts to try and make that attempt work successfully. Experiment with a variety of tactics on Google+ to see what resonates as you build an audience of dedicated followers on the network.
H&M was once the most followed page on Google+ due to its unprecedented hustle with their page’s strategy. H&M helped illustrate to other pages on Google+ that sharing original photos and visuals was the way to attract a loyal and engaged audience on the network. H&M typically shares photos of their collections and videos of their campaigns or behind the scenes at photo shoots and styling sessions. Another technique that appears to be working well for H&M is sharing both albums of photos to feature an entire collection of products, as well as creating an image that features multiple products from a collection or curated look.
Another interesting technique that H&M often uses is not to constantly include a link to their products on the posts they share on Google+. Many of their posts are shared simply to show their audience the latest collection, to build the H&M brand, and gain traction on Google+. This approach keeps the engagement and conversation on Google+, which helps to grow the network and interactions with the page overtime. By not including links to where their products could be purchased all the time, it helps build trust with their audience since they are not constantly selling to them but instead, sharing interesting and relevant content that their followers have come to expect from them at this point.
Use One of a Kind Visuals Throughout Your Page: Focus on a one of a kind way of incorporating photos and other visual content when it comes to your posting strategy for Google+. When posting on your page create a healthy mix of content that doesn’t include links and content that does have links to your other web properties. This approach helps to build value with your audience overtime to ensure that when it is time for a soft sell, it is more likely to work.
4. Angry Birds
Angry Birds consistently shares behind the scenes content and sneak peek trailers to their Google+ page, following the similar approach of making each of their social channels a unique experience worth paying attention to. They reveal Google+ exclusive content in the form of photos and announcements that help excite and reward their audience for following them on the network.
The brand regularly polls their audience to get feedback on their favorite products and shares content made by fans. By including the feedback and content from their audience, they are working to strengthen their community on Google+ and involving their members in their activities across the platform.
Make your Google+ Page An Exclusive Hub of Content: Make your Google+ page a hub for exclusive content similar to Angry Bird’s approach, which encourages their fans to follow them on this channel for one of a kind access to their content. Also be sure to think of ways to include your audience on Google+ by sharing and highlighting their content, as well as asking for their input on products, services and content. Including your audience in the continued direction of your business will help strengthen their connection with your page, since they are an active contributor to how your business works with them and since you are listening to their feedback as long as it is reasonable.
BMW takes beautiful photography of its cars, which they then highlight throughout their Google+ page due to the very visual nature of the social network. The posted photos by BMW stand out in a person’s feed above other content, since they are stunning and eye catching. Many other brands post photos and visuals on their Google+ page, but the quality and attention to detail with each of BMW’s posts comes through to outshine other content shared on the network.
Focus on the Quality of Your Photos: Take the extra time to focus on the quality of the photos and the other content you’re posting on Google+ to make the best use of its photo sharing abilities as a network. This doesn’t mean that having a budget like BMW is required, it means that extra time and effort should be spent on the quality of the content that your company is creating. Photos and videos are a really important way for others to interpret your brand, therefore spend the time it takes to make this media one of a kind and it’ll do better for your business across social media in the long-term.
PlayStation on Google+ offers a strong variety of news, updates and videos about upcoming video game releases and announcements. The channel features a variety of its games at different intervals of time to prevent talking about the same game consistently.
Mainly posting images and videos, the PlayStation team appears to understand what types of content resonate well on the Google+ platform. Each of their posts receives high amounts of engagement as opposed to many other pages on Google+ that struggle to drive traffic, gain a following or see any interactions with the content they share.
Incorporate Visuals and Video to Tell a Unique Story: Look to emulate their strategy by sharing a specific subset of your content on Google+, in order to make it a unique experience and destination for your audience. Use only visuals and videos to stand out on Google+, since they drive the most interaction with the social network’s active users.
Burberry was one of the very first brands to be active on Google+. They started by experimenting with GIFs and cinemagraphs as well as custom videos talking with their audience on the network. Since then Burberry has continually updated their page to reflect their 157 year-old global brand, while making use of Google+’s sleek integration with YouTube. Burberry mainly connects with their audience by sharing music they find relevant for their consumer base, as well as photos and albums of their latest product offerings and collections.
The content they post is often shared inline with weekly, monthly or annual series to give their audience some consistency and expectations as to what type of content to expect each week. This approach to posting is similar to TV programming in the sense that the same TV show airs the same time each week, similarly to how certain Burberry content is posted on the same day every week.
Focus on Interests or Themes That Your Audience Likes: Find or create content that is related to the interests of your brand’s audience, but is different from your core product or service offerings like what Burberry is doing by consistently posting about music they find related to their brand voice and perspective. Also try to align when and how often you are posting content on Google+ to create a strict programming schedule for your followers to keep up with.
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the few museums with a big following on Google+, but it is not without reason. Their page is constantly filled with content about the museum’s latest exhibitions, behind the scenes happenings, events and special moments that have only occurred at the museum. The Van Gogh Museum does an amazing job of connecting with the interests, hobbies and emotions of their audience.
Identify Your Audience and Personalize Your Approach: Clearly identify who your audience is and what they care about the most. Following in the lines of the Van Gogh Museum, share content that is as relevant as possible to your audience members. Personalization provides the right context to a person’s interests, which what makes content, advertising, and other messaging more effective to a person because they actually care about the topics being discussed.
It’s no surprise that Marvel is one of the more successful Google+ pages because of the innate visual nature of their company. Marvel stand out amongst the crowd by having discussions that help spur conversations about their new products, videos, and images that they’re continually posting on the network. By constantly asking questions and including their audience in the content they are sharing, Marvel is able to increase the amount of interactions each of their posts receives on Google+.
Spur Heated Debates and Conversations with Content: Share content on your Google+ page that will spur heated debates and discussions. Reserve some of your most controversial content to be debated with your Google+ audience in order to help spur more activity on your posts across the network. Always look to share content and commentary that allows your audience to chime in about what’s happening with your brand and its offerings.
10. British Airways
British Airways is one of the most successful airline brands on Google+ for a few reasons. One thing they do very well is share a healthy balance of content created by the airline, as well as the content of others. When content relates to the interests and topics that British Airways typically covers, they aren’t shy about sharing it from other brands, publications, and sources. There always needs to be a relevant tie back to the brand and British Airways does an effective job at doing so.
At Times, Repurpose the Content of Others for Sharing: Follow other brands, publications and leaders in your field that cover your industry. Take content and information shared by other players in your space, add your own expertise or perspective to the content and then feel free to share on Google+ as long as it is relevant and attributed to the original source. This technique solves a problem that many businesses have, since it is often hard to produce the amount of content needed to remain constantly active across all these channels.
Is your business active on Google+? If so, what is working for you to reach more people and utilize the many unique features of the budding social network? Share your thoughts below!