3 Ways to Get Started on Google+ Now
As someone pointed out today, it's been 24 days since the launch of Google+. In case you haven't been able to follow the constant chatter about it, Google+ is its new social networking play that is in "Field Trial" as of now. This means that you only can join through an invitation from another user (please let me know if you would like one).
The best resource I've seen on how to use it, is a Google Docs-based crowdsourced user guide. There are lots of early adopters spending tons of hours using Google+ and constantly speculating how much of a threat it is to Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn.
Rather than focus on this, it's more productive to get your hands dirty using Google+ and determining its usefulness in terms of connecting with your customers, prospects and key influencers. Here are three ways to get started on this aspect right now.
Find Relevant Google+ Users
There already are useful third-party tools and services available, including a couple of directories of Google+ users. My favorite is Find People on Plus, a site that has indexed (as of this writing) 947,996 Google+ users and categorized them by a number of dimensions including occupation, based upon the information included on Google profiles. So, for example, if you are an eDiscovery software company and are interested in finding lawyers on Google+, this directory can help.
From there you can add them to your list of users to follow via Google Circles, its contact management feature. In particular, you could create a Circle called "Lawyers" and use it to monitor if those folks are talking about eDiscovery issues, and engage accordingly.
Hangout with Key Bloggers
If you have an active blogger relations program, Google+ should be leveraged as a channel right away. Chances are, most of the key bloggers you follow and engage with on an ongoing basis are on Google+, as they are among the early adopters. I know this is the case with storage industry bloggers.
If you have regular interaction with this group through things like Tweet-ups, then consider leveraging one of Google+'s more interesting features, called Hangout. This allows you to conduct a group video chat with up to 10 people at a time. This can be used to conduct updates or regular feedback sessions with a group of bloggers as part of your program.
Get Ready for Company Pages
Last week, Google made an application available for companies to be considered for a Field Trial of Google+ company pages. Some companies tried to use personal profiles to create ones for their entities, but Google took most of them down as it wants to maintain strong quality control and avoid abuse of the service.
I wrote over a year ago how Google should be considered another key social media outpost for company brands. The company pages will be included as part of universal search results, and serves as another place to syndicate content to be amde available for sharing by followers. Each post would include the "+1" button, which will be a major source of data for Google's algorithms. As Google has been moving toward personalized search results that include social signals, Google+ should be a primary source of these signals. Managing and engaging company presence on Google+ to encourage interaction around your content will be very important from a search marketing perspective.
What Interests You the Most?
I will continue to assess the opportunity that Google+ presents for companies in our space, and blog about them on an ongoing basis.
In the meantime, what interests you the most about Google+? What would you like to know more about?