The buzz about Google+ pages, why you’ll want one, and how to set it up
By Keredy Andrews/ Many brands, products, and artists eagerly anticipated the day when the newest social network opened its doors to non-human entities, and now Google+ now has over 40 million users; if you haven’t yet created your Page you might want to ask yourself why. I work for leading integrated PR, SEO and a social media agency, so I’d like to offer some tips on how to get started on G+ and get the most out of your Page.
As authors, you are undoubtedly wondering why I’m talking about non-human entity ‘Pages’ rather than ‘Profiles’, after all, you’re people! Despite being a human, you’re also a brand so you should take advantage of the additional functions on offer. Currently there are not that many differences between Pages and Profiles, but there are very important variations–and more will become available, which I’ve investigated for you below.
You can +1 Pages
This is the equivalent of ‘liking’ a Facebook brand page but because this social recommendation facility is from Google and is the fastest growing one in history, it has an impact on its search engine rankings. When someone searches for you in Google search, if any of their connections have +1’d your Page, your Page will be shown higher in the rankings. Make sure that you integrate the +1 button into your website too, as this could contribute to its ranking in search for the same reason.
Search engine users can use Google’s direct connect to find you
This is not yet fully rolled out but should be soon. Once your Page has been authorized by Google, a direct link to your Google+ Page will be presented in the search query dropdown box if anyone enters a +1 before your name. Eventually, when a user hits return they will be taken straight to your G+ Page.
Multiple page administrators can manage your Pages
Again, not a function yet, but Pages will shortly be able to be managed by multiple administrators, meaning that you can delegate the management of your Page accordingly.
You can create a custom URL
This is another feature coming soon, which will be a neater way for you to publicize your page. Currently the URL addresses are long and cumbersome, using a series of numbers so in the meantime you could use a G+ shortener, such as gplus.to.
You can make use of integrated page analytics
This will be another function available for Pages to use in the near future, which will allow you to monitor how individual posts are performing so you can subsequently create more engaging content. As with the current Google analytics, it is thought you will be able to view metrics such as click-throughs and referred sources.
You can run a competition for your fans
If this operation comes into play, you will be able to take advantage of promoting your books by running a competition to give copies away.
Hopefully this has convinced you to have a Page, rather than a Profile, on Google+, but how do you get started and use it successfully? Even if you use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, it’s important to understand G+’s strengths and make the most of them rather than treating it as just another platform to post exactly the same content.
- When you create your Page you’ll most likely go towards the ‘Arts, Entertainment or Sports’ category. However, when you look at the sub-categories, you’ll see that this will only be relevant for you if you’re creating a page for an individual ‘Book’ or a ‘Fictional Character.’ For your own author page, I would recommend choosing ‘Other’ or, if you use ‘Product and Brand,’ then ‘Celebrity’ is a sub-category option.
- Use your name, or author pseudonym, as the ‘Page Name’, insert your website or blog address, and ensure the page is publicly visible to ‘Any Google+ user.’
- Complete the About / Introduction section with suitable bio information. This is a key area as you can embed anchor text hyperlinks. It’s a great way of assisting your website’s search engine optimization efforts, as you can hyperlink a phrase that you would like to be visible in Google search; for example, ‘new crime novel.’ This link back to your site will be recognized by Google and will likely help with your rankings for the words or phrases you link. If you are going all out and creating G+ Pages for each of your books, you can link to them here in anchor text in exactly the same way.
- The recommended links section is yet another opportunity for you to create anchor links and promote your other resources, such as your website, blog, and other social networking pages. While you may want to take full advantage of the anchor text, it’s also important to make sure users know where these links are pointing. I would perhaps label mine ‘Keredy Andrews’ Blog’ rather than ‘My Blog’ so that my name is within the link that Google’s search bots will crawl.
- Use a creative and informative tagline to get your followers interested in what you have to offer and choose a profile picture that will be recognizable or revealing. You could use your own picture or perhaps a book cover, but don’t rule out being a little more imaginative. For example, you may wish to create an image of a strong review quote.
- 5 image tiles are on view at the top of your Page, so use these wisely. Again, you can be as creative as you like. Make a panoramic image with the 5 tiles or use .gif files for moving images to show off your work and genre.
- The ‘circle’ function allows you to segment users into different categories. It can be used very cleverly by Page administrators to tailor content to each type of audience. Not only should you place people you search or come across in various circles, but I would also recommend that you return the favor whenever a new person circles you.
- Google+ is not viewed in the same way as Twitter, where it becomes less positive if you are followed by fewer people than you follow. Circle people by location (for if your books are launched at different times in different countries), sex, or age (so you can communicate with writers of different demographics, or interests.) These are just a few ideas for breaking down your audience, increasing engagement, and providing more personalized online PR messages.
- Google +’s videoconferencing feature, termed ‘hangouts’, is one of the most interesting features available. Although only you and nine others can currently hangout, Google is working on adding an ‘on air’ function to Pages. This will allow an unlimited amount of people to join you via a live YouTube feed. Some big brands, such as The Muppets movie, Macy’s, and Dell, have already started to experiment with Hangouts in order to speak directly to their fan base, making customers feel that little bit special. You could use this feature to create a buzz around an upcoming book release and undertake exclusive readings. Have you ever wished you could get feedback on a plot, character, or even first chapter? Now you can easily ask your fans and give them some attention back.
Keredy Andrews is a senior account manager at Punch Communications, a UK social media, PR and SEO agency that takes an integrated approach to all three disciplines. Follow Keredy on Twitter @the_only_keredy, search for her on Google+ or visit www.punchcomms.com for more information on Punch.