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Four Reasons Marketers Need to Embrace Google+

by Stephan Hovnanian  |  
August 7, 2013

In an informal MarketingProfs poll, marketers cited Google+ as their most hated social network. Reasons given, both in the poll and the subsequent comments, mentioned things like convenience (or lack thereof), complexity (huge learning curve, not enough time), and my favorite, "my target audience isn't there."

Lack of convenience, I can understand. Google's API is limited at this time, so it may not be fully integrated into the tools marketers use to manage their other social presences.

Complexity, I can appreciate. Google+ offers a broader feature set than other social networks. So, if a marketer wanted to maximize his efforts on Google+, he would need to put the time in to learn how each of these features worked, such as Hangouts, Photos, Circles, and Events.

But "my target audience isn't there" is a lousy excuse not to spend at least a little time integrating Google+ into your marketing mix.

Here's the thing, marketers: "Google+ is Google itself," according to Bradley Horowitz, VP products for Google+. That means if your target audience uses Google for search (likely), YouTube (likely), Gmail (probably), and has an Android device (possibly), Google+ will help them find you faster.

Let's explore that further.

1. Google+ and Search Marketing

Maybe your business has vibrant communities on other social networks, but by neglecting Google+, you are missing out on search engine marketing that you can do. Simply sharing your blog posts on Google+ will get them indexed faster and create more content about that topic that your target audience will find in search.

Ask your SEO team for the keywords you are supposed to be targeting, and include them in a very simple public share of your blog posts. Just because SEO isn't your cup of tea doesn't mean you should exclude a social network that has tangible search benefits for using it. Add a title; a short, thoughtful intro; and for bonus points, +mention (tag) your author. Maybe even add a few hashtags for faster discovery (but Google will do that for you if you forget).

2. Google+ and Social Listening

Every public post on Google+ is indexed. That means if someone is saying bad things about your company, you need to know about it, lest that post show up in search results when your target market is searching for you.

Set up your Google+ brand page to get emails when you are +mentioned (i.e., tagged). Then push those emails into your social listening software, so you can determine if you need to respond. Who knows? Maybe you'll find that your target market is talking about you on Google+. Or better yet, you have major fans there that you've been neglecting!

3. Google+ and the Rest of Google

If your target audience uses Gmail, if you have an Android app, or if you have a YouTube channel, you need to think about building up your Google+ presence. When your company sends emails to Gmail users, its Google+ page will appear next to the message. A major brand reinforcement opportunity is there. By promoting your Android app directly on Google+, you can tap into a market that will recommend it, link to it, and broaden the app's reach. If you have a YouTube channel, you could run live events directly on Google+ using Hangouts on Air, or simply create more "web pages" (Google+ posts) that link to your YouTube videos, which will get indexed by Google and help your video marketing efforts.

4. Google+ and Content Creation

Google+ has built in photo-editing tools to create memes, filters, and more on top of your own photos. It can even animate them! Each photo you share on Google+ becomes another image about your brand that gets indexed in search or that could be downloaded and used on other social networks. Google+ loves its photographers, too, so if your brand happens to be in an industry that lends itself well to photography, you have a huge built-in support system to push those photos out to a larger audience.

Google+ posts themselves have formatting capabilities, such as bold, italics, and strikethrough text, meaning you can convey more emotion and context with your message. Posts also have a very large character limit, meaning you can pack a post with lots of information to build more context around your target topic.

Lastly, Google+ posts tend to have a longer shelf life when it comes to being found in public streams (news feeds). This means less time spent re-posting the same content so your audience can find it.

Why Marketers Need Google+

Maybe your customers don't want to have to follow you on another social network. And maybe you don't want to invest in building a social presence on another social network. That's fine---but Google+ is not just another social network. It brings much more to your content marketing strategy and "discoverability" than other social networks.

Put simply, using Google+ as part of your content marketing plan will help your target audience find you faster and when they're ready to buy.

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Stephan Hovnanian is a content solutions architect at Bambu, an advocacy platform by Sprout Social. He has spent most of his professional career as an email marketer and business owner focused on helping companies build stronger relationships with their audiences.

Twitter: @stephanhov

LinkedIn: Stephan Hovnanian

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  • by Randy Hilarski (@RandyHilarski) Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Stephan I still do not understand the reluctance of business to utilize Google Plus properly. A few are speculating that it is because there is no way to advertise on Google Plus. On this platform good content is the only way to drive traffic.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Thank you for allowing me to contribute, Team MarketingProfs! I appreciate it, and hope these ideas help encourage marketers to give Google+ a real chance.

  • by Cari Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog


    Do you have any numbers you can provide? Justifying the expense of time requires some sort of cost-benefit analysis, and it would be helpful if you had anything (case study, maybe?) that shows how traffic increases when G+ is used.


  • by Stephanie Calahan Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Great article and I agree with your points. I think one of the complexities with G+ has more to do with culture than the platform.

    Example: Link bombing that is prevalent everywhere else is not effective. You have to think more about your audience.

    I find that a good thing! It has allowed me to be more conscious to those I serve.

    At first, I was concerned that you couldn't auto-populate, but you can't be at every networking event and cocktail party either.

  • by Katie Katz Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Agreed Stephan....very well said in all the wonderful joys of using Google+ for your business marketing. We have reaped the benefits of our Business G+ page, our posts and images do come up on the search engines.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog


    The cost benefit analysis would be the same you'd undertake when looking at adding any social network to your marketing mix...assuming you were doing so for the social/community-building aspects. I do not have numbers, to answer your question directly.

    On the personal level, though, I can tell you that the time investment I've made in building my Google+ footprint (on a social level) has rewarded me with networking connections, business opportunities, and above all, higher search rankings for key business areas I'm focused in.

    If you take anything away from this article, let it be the part about social listening. I don't think there's any reason to neglect that area of your social marketing strategy on Google+.

    I hope that helps.

  • by Patti Eddington Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Excellent information and presented in a thoughtful, concise manner. We'll give Google+ a try and add to our social media marketing mix. Thanks, Stephan!

  • by Jesse Wojdylo Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    I think most of you know how I feel. We are still very early in the process but most are already seeing the result of their hard work early. Great stuff Stephan and keep plugging away on Google+. If nothing else, Google+ has allowed us to meet either other. Give me a ring anytime you want to discuss the future of the product and the social layer.

  • by Ben Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    I'm very impressed with the ability to drive traffic and build a following with Google + - If you're consistent, participate and provide good content, you really do benefit from using it.

  • by Karen Peck Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    As a business we have connected with hundreds (I have nearly 2000 people following me!) of new prospects via G+, most have just connected having found me by accident.
    This is no two way street - as a small business I have found the business community I belong to extremely helpful.

  • by Charles Sandor Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Steve and I have debated this a few times on Google+ and while I have a great respect for him, I continue to disagree because I think the real point is being missed here. What type of marketing are we talking about? If its a person who posts / blogs a lot, I agree with Stephan's point.

    However in my case, I do post and blog occasionally, but not enough to make a social impact in that vein. I really want to do business networking and this is impossible to do on Google+ because Google in its [sarcasm]infinite wisdom[/sarcasm] won't allow me to import my business address book into a business page so I am prevented from business networking with my most important target base, my clients and business associates.

    Why is it important - because 90% of my new business is referred to me by my business clients and associates and so I need to keep cultivating that group which I can do with ease on FB and LinkedIn. But then they understand business!

    Almost my entire business database isn't on Google+ and far too many don't even know it exists and since I can't invite them to check out Google+, it then makes sense why from a business standpoint Google+ IS A GHOST TOWN.

    Google+ forces you to circle chase strangers and while its always good to find and engage new people in business, its a real crap shoot as I have found out on Google+ since most people aren't here for business unless the business is marketing themselves as experts in any or all things Google.

    And the other big issue is because business pages are useless, it means for any meaningful engagement has to flow through your personal profile feed and as anyone knows who has seen a business post surrounded by cats & dogs and jokes and MLM marketing understands business and personal don't mix.

    Many other business people on Google+ have told me the same thing. They are getting meaningful engagement from FB and LinkedIn, but nothing on Google+.

    So again, if you are marketing to get noticed, then Google+ is for you. If you are looking to do business networking, then fuggedaboutit!

    I don't hate Google+, it is just a big disappointment.

    Google+ isn't a social network, it isn't even a social layer, Google+ is a platform designed to promote and educate on all things Google with a little bit of cats thrown in.

  • by Dustin W. Stout Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Well said Stephan! I think the really savvy marketers get it already, and the average marketer will catch up eventually. Not everybody can be ahead of the curve, but those who are reap the most benefit.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    That's great to hear Patti! You know where to find me if I can help answer any questions :)

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Charles, there's really no reason to re-hash the numerous conversations we've had about this, so I'll just add this...

    - Pages for a very long time now have been able to import contacts, and if not directly, through a few very easy steps that run through your profile. You're working off old information.

    - If you tune your circles and streams accordingly, you won't see the cats you detest (I'm on your team with this part by the way). Just for argument's sake, I'll point out that 90% of the news feed for me on Facebook is uninteresting. Is that my fault? Yep. I'm not using interest lists or tuning the types of posts I see from my actual friends. Nor am I following any pages. See, I'm "doing it wrong" to make the most of what that network offers me. But do I blame Facebook? Nope.

    - Let's not forget that GOOGLE+ IS ONLY 2 YEARS OLD!!! It's an infant compared to more mature networks that have had the time to get feedback, make changes, and adapt to business needs. While I think many of us feel like lab rats on Google+, trying to dissect every little change, their team HAS been responsive, and has made very significant improvements in just the past few months to help people and companies use its various features.

    This is a long-term investment in your business. Is it right for everyone, and for them to drop everything they're doing on other social networks so they can hop on the G+ train? No. But if you open your mind to some of the opportunities the platform as a whole provides content creators and businesses, there's a lot of good that can come out of a little participation.

  • by Brad Miller Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog


    I have to agree with Charles for many of his reasons. Here are some of the biggest I can see.

    #1.) Google+ is too late to the game...we already have had Myspace, then Facebook..Google + has done a horrible job explaining why we need ANOTHER social network.

    #2.) For business....Google + is just horrible as an interface. I've been doing web/SEO for years and after setting up ONE G+ account I was finished...If you are a 16 year old Girl G+ is a good choice for you...A business?

    #3.) 2 years old...that's the answer you give. So, a program that can't even figure out itself, its advantages, its true value to business or why you even need it to begin with is now being forced upon us as a "necessary" for business. Does Google understand all the other things Webmasters/SEO's are doing because of Panda/Penguin?...G+ is tossed to the back of the pile and will remain there for a Long time. So what if its new...are you telling me they had nobody to look at and go *hey, we should do that!*

    #4.) Social Media....yeah, its dead. Unless a Kardashian will shill it, it wont fly on Social media.

    #5.) You talk of the benefits of G+ and at the end basically say, "but if you don't see the value of another social network"....dude, have you SEEN the bloodletting fallout from Panda/Penguin on the whole "Social Media" implosion? honestly think that many employers, after getting burned recently by "social media" are going to jump right back onto it?....keep dreaming.

    The dim reality dawning on people and business these days about Social media is that not everyone cares about your product and no matter how many times you catapult the propaganda, unless your audience even remotely cares...its a waste. All people see this as is yet another way to be bombarded with useless info.

    Add to this all the fun recently about passwords on Chrome being easy to access, working with the NSA, changing requirements for ranking without specifics....Google isn't necessarily seen as a friendly medium anymore. All G+ is to me and a wide majority of its intended audience is another thing to fill out to BS with our friends. It has ZERO intrinsic value to business. All you can remotely compare it to is go explain to your 65 year old boss why you need to be on another version of something he sees his kids wasting their times on.

    Creating memes and all sorts of funny pics...that's something kids do, not business. the only value I see from your explanation is that if someone says something negative about me...I know about it.

    I'm glad there are people out there like you rooting to make things work, and please take nothing I've said as a negative against you personally, but if after 2+ years, G+ is still the ghost town that it is...that's a hint nobody wants it. Benefits or not.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    You're welcome.

    It seemed fair to represent the case for considering using Google+.

    Your friendly neighborhood Daily Fix editor,

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    No problem, Brad, we're all professionals here.

    And to the takeaway about social listening, if you decided that all this Google+ crap is worthless, except for the brand monitoring part, wouldn't it still make sense to incorporate that element into your marketing strategy?

    I'd think so. Kinda cool that there's a way to do that without having to commit 100% to the platform, wouldn't you agree?

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    I'm glad to hear that Katie! Your glasswork and images are amazing, too, I hope it's translating into business for you!

  • by Charles Sandor Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    Stephan, I know I can import my address book to my personal profile, but frankly that isn't good enough. I don't want to have to play games with a platform to make it work right.

    Business people spend enormous sums of money promoting and building their brand. On FB because of the tabs and feature I can pretty much duplicate my various clients brands. This is important to them.

    Google+ insists that a business brand present themselves the way Google sees fit. This is a battle Google can only lose and is losing considering business for the most part ignores this platform and rightly so. If Google won't allow business to properly brand themselves, then they will continue on other platforms that do understand how to interact with business.

    At the end of the day until Google allows for the separation of business and personal in a meaningful way, then it will continue to be the ugly girl no businessman wants to kiss.

  • by MJ Bush Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    You keep repeating "ghost town". In all honesty G+ isn't a ghost town except for those who haven't taken the time to learn how to use it and then do it.

    If all your business (and plenty at that) is coming from referrals there isn't much need for social media to reach new markets. But if you're trying to connect with new people based on interests, it's THE place to be. Despite the time commitment.

    But don't quote that tired "ghost town" thing. It simply isn't true.

  • by Charles Sandor Wed Aug 7, 2013 via blog

    One other comment about Google+ which doesn't get talked about much. It's about trust and do you want to invest time Ina platform you don't trust?

    Google has such down many apps / platforms in the past. Many we're popular, yet for some reason Google just shuts them down.

    Who can say with confidence that Google+ will even be around in 5 years? Who wants to invest a lot of time in a platform if there is no guarantee it will be around at some future date.

    We also see the arrogance of Google when they make various changes or updates. They never announce it coming, they just surprise ..... do it.

    It's like we are nothing but lab rats in some great social experiment by Google and if they don't like the results, they will just likely shut it down as they have so often in the past.

  • by Malhar Barai Thu Aug 8, 2013 via blog

    Great points Stephan.

    Am yet to understand the reluctance of joining G+. I have been told often that only geeks visit G+ and there's hardly any traction unlike other platforms.

    Personally, I believe that you have to be active on G+ to leverage the power of Google. And I love the platform for lots of quality engagement and less noise.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Thu Aug 8, 2013 via blog

    Given the fact that they're using our Google+ activity to drive semantic and social search signals, which is definitely the direction Google wants to take, I don't see Google+ the social layer going away anytime soon.

    To play off your comment, one thing I think a lot of people are failing to talk about with respect to Google+ is that it's meant to support their primary business -- search -- and their primary revenue source -- advertising.

    All of these ins and outs of how to use Google+ or what Google+ looks like in the UI are what everybody is focusing on. It's a much bigger picture at play, one that I tried to gently introduce in the article. Google+ is a longer-term investment in your company's ability to be recommended to users looking for the types of products and services you sell. Once you can grasp that concept, this will all make more sense.

    This is a long-term strategy, not a day-to-day operational strategy.

    In closing, companies may choose to invest resources in the company that essentially "owns" search, and wants to deliver a more relevant, semantic search experience to its users. While that footprint grows, and those signals are being strengthened, companies have the ability to create new opportunities for themselves to be discovered by a target audience that they didn't know existed, AND/OR invite existing customers to use some of the tools & features to be part of their community on the social network part of the program. If that last bit doesn't float your boat, as you well know, you don't have to build out the social part. You'll get more out of the platform as a whole if you use the social part, but the major benefit, which was the first thing I said in the article, is that you can get a search boost just by participating.

  • by Bradford Lowry Thu Aug 8, 2013 via blog

    I'm coming up to my first full year using Google Plus. The two factors in your article that have made Google Plus successful for our brand is "Search Marketing" and "Content Creation". I can say with confidence that applying Google Plus to our social media outreach has had significant benefits, above and beyond other platforms.

  • by Hannah Thu Aug 8, 2013 via blog


    Great post on the offerings that Google+ holds! I do have to admit it is ironic that at the bottom in the "share and enjoy" section feature there is no option for Google+. Yes, it's at the top but perhaps, it would help to have it at the bottom with all the other sharing features!

  • by Spook SEO Fri Aug 9, 2013 via blog

    With how things are right now, it shows how Google is hungry and is willing to get more. Time will come when Google will set their eyes on the social media side of things and give it a hundred percent push. When that time comes Google+ will make an even bigger impact on the internet marketing field so while that hasn't happened yet, internet markets ought to invest in Google+.

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Sat Aug 10, 2013 via blog

    Karen, you're right about communities. Well moderated, topical ones (and they exist!) offer tremendous opportunity to engage with a focused audience, offer your own expertise, and in return build quality two-way relationships. Communities are where I recommend everybody start their journey, it helps avoid that baseless "ghost town" experience.

  • by Olga Sun Aug 11, 2013 via blog

    Hi Stephan,
    Can you please explain how to achieve this:
    "When your company sends emails to Gmail users, its Google+ page will appear next to the message. ".


  • by Mimi Taylor Sun Aug 11, 2013 via blog

    Anyone who has invested time in any social media platform understands the exponential potential for reaching LARGE audiences in a short amount of time. But mastering Social Media as a marketing tool is like learning to play a musical instrument... you can't make music until you've practiced and learned to play really well. Look at Google+ as a challenge! An opportunity to learn something new! Don't say you "hate it" because you don't yet understand how to make it work for your business or your clients! Social Media is about synergy! Working Together! Sharing! Expanding! It's about CELEBRATING change and LOVING the CHALLENGE of embracing something new and innovative.
    + Plus!
    It's a Google product... well, that's a no brainer! Thanks Stephan Hovnanian! GREAT ARTICLE!

  • by Stephan Hovnanian Mon Aug 12, 2013 via blog

    Hi Olga, here is the Help doc on Google to answer your question. In a nutshell, if you have a verified page and send email from the domain connected to that page, when you send an email campaign to a Gmail user, they will see your page in the sidebar when viewing the message. This is built-in marketing for your page on Google+, since the person can then add you to their circles directly from the message.

  • by Anna Wed Aug 14, 2013 via blog

    Randy, why aren't you happy, that there is (until now) NO advertising but CONTENT? I know it's harder to get clients through your ideas, messages and so on. As long as there is no advertising the niveau will be higher than that of other social networks.

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