As the newest marketing weapon in your social media arsenal, Google+ Pages provide businesses with yet another powerful opportunity to connect with fans, prospects, and customers, as well as promote content to generate new leads. But let's face it: starting a brand new social presence from scratch is kind of a pain. And without an ample following, all the time and effort you put into your presence is ultimately a waste.
1. Optimize and Populate Your Page With Content First: It's never a good idea to start promoting something before it's truly "ready," whether it's a new blog, a new campaign, or a new social presence. Spend some time optimizing your Google+ page and building it up with content and posts before you start promoting your presence. This way, when new visitors land on your page, they'll have a rich, positive experience that engages them. The best way to convince new page visitors not to add you to their Circles is to welcome them with a blank slate. Where's the value? You need to convince them that your page offers such remarkable value that they'd be missing out by not following you.
2. Promote Your Presence in Other Social Networks: Once your page is ready for prime time, use the other weapons in your social media arsenal to promote your new Google+ presence. Leverage the reach you've already built up on these other channels to encourage fans and followers to check out your new Google+ Page and follow you there. Chances are, if people are following you on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, they already find value in the content you're sharing and the discussions you're generating. This makes them great potential Google+ Page followers, too!
3. Write a Blog Post About Your New Google+ Page: Speaking of leveraging your current reach in other channels, why not use your blog to promote your presence, too? Write a blog post about your new Google+ Page, what you'll be sharing there, and why your blog readers should want to follow you.
4. Make Yourself Eligible for Direct Connect: Direct Connect is one of Google+ Pages' unique features. It allows businesses to become eligible for various search capabilities, such as being easily findable using the +[Page Name] search operator in Google.com search, as well as the ability to get Google+ Page posts pulled into organic search results. These Google+ search results are also accompanied by an option for the searcher to add your page to their Circles directly from the search results, increasing your chances of generating new page followers. While Google is currently only granting certain businesses with Direct Connect status, make yourself eligible for it by installing the Direct Connect code on your website so you're prepared for these new features when Google releases them to all. Installing the code verifies that your Google+ page is the "official" page for your business.
5. Add the G+ Follow Button to Your Website/Blog: During the Direct Connect setup process, Google+ also offers you the option to generate Google+ follow buttons (AKA badges) for your page. Take advantage of them, and install the buttons on your website and blog to help you convert website visitors into new Google+ Page followers. You can create a button for your page here.
6. Encourage Current Followers to Share Your G+ Page/Posts: Remember the research HubSpot's Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella conducted about adding "please retweet" to your tweets? Remember how it works? Adopt this methodology for your Google+ Page and posts as well, and ask your current followers to share your page and your content with their Circles if they think it's valuable. This will increase the visibility of your page to new Google+ users who may be interested in your content and therefore potential followers of your page, thus expanding your reach!
7. Use Topic Circles to Target Content: We recently wrote about businesses that are doing creative things with their Google+ Pages. One awesome example highlighted Time magazine's page, which is testing out the concept of 'topic Circles' to share more targeted content with its followers. To experiment with this yourself, post a message that you're testing it out and ask followers to comment if they're interested in being a part of a particular topic Circle. Then create a Circle around this topic, add the users who expressed interest (Note: You'll only be able to add users to a Circle if they've already added your page to their Circles), and start sharing targeted content around that topic just to that Circle. The outcome will be that you'll create a more personalized experience on your page that provides even more value to your followers. And a page that's valuable will organically attract new followers!
8. Share Your Awesome Content: Another way to create a truly valuable Google+ Page that naturally attracts followers is to share remarkable content -- blog articles, links to landing pages for ebooks, webinars, etc. Pay attention to what types of content your followers are responding to, and adapt your strategy to include more of that content. Engage your followers in discussions by asking questions and requesting feedback.
9. Be Visual!
10. Leverage Hangouts: One thing we've learned about Google+ is that it likes to dangle awesome new features in front of us but doesn't let many of us leverage them ... yet. One of these cool features is 'Hangouts on Air.' Think of it as livestreaming video via Google+ (10 people can participate in the video chat, and an unlimited number of people can view the video chat). Hangouts on Air is only available for use by certain business pages, but currently, pages can leverage Hangouts without this livestreaming component, allowing 10 people to participate in a group video chat. There are a lot of creative ways to use that in itself. Consider offering an opportunity to participate in an exclusive video chat with your business' CEO about an important industry topic (first come, first serve). Or perhaps use Hangouts to conduct focus groups with some of your fans or customers. And cross your fingers for the day when Google+ enables Hangouts on Air to all!