So you've heard of Google+ and may or may not have gotten an invite. Word on the marketer's grape vine is that Google+ is looking to be the next social media marketing powerhouse. So why, as a band, musician, label, or marketer, should you care?
To grasp an idea about the impact of Google+ among the social media domination that is Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, we can briefly take a look at Wordstream's case study on incoming traffic from Google+. While Facebook remains the majority referrer of traffic to Wordstream's blog, in the month that Google+ has been open for beta invites, Wordstream was surprised to learn that Google+ had overtaken Linkedin and trailed right behind Twitter. More specifically:
While Google Plus is showing signs of life, the functionalities that will rival Facebook pages have yet to take effect. For those companies and bands antsy to jump onto the social media platform, Google is slated to release an enterprise app (a competitor to Facebook Pages) for Google+ by the end of 2011. But don't sign on with your band name just yet. Google will shut down accounts without your own real name.
In the meantime, while we're waiting on Google Plus's version of Facebook Pages, here are ten ways you can take advantage of Google+ under your own name, and as the face of your band.
1. Organize Your Circles
The first suggestion is a simple one. You're given the opportunity to aggregate your fans into groups, called Google Circles. When you set up your account, set aside circles for your band mates, fans, publicity contacts, and business contacts. Remember to set the privacy parameters when creating a new status update, whether it's intended for your friends and family or your fans.
(Strategy) VIP Circles: There are various benefits to interacting with your top fans, the very people that have gotten you to where you are today. You can find these fans by using Openbook and Social Mention as I outlined in an earlier Dotted post. To leverage this concept with Google+, I would suggest that you invite an inner circle of VIPs who would receive exclusive updates and offerings, that your non-VIP fans would otherwise not receive. You can limit this exclusive invite to an X number of fans, and publicize this with a contest or any strategy of your choosing. To take it a step further, you can sell your VIP slots as a subscription fee.
2. Twitter+Facebook=Google Plus Circles
The way I see the psychology behind adding users to your circles is best described as the marriage of Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a community wherein following people you may not necessarily know is encouraged, while on the other hand, most people would only add a Facebook friend, if that individual is at the least, acquaintances. Google+ borrows from Twitter in enabling you to view news feeds from those you add to your circle (even if the users you add do not necessarily follow you back), while maintaining the security of keeping your private life from your business contacts, as you do with Facebook, by permitting you to specify the circles you're willing to publicize an update or link to.
Those LOL Cats photos you like to share with your friends don't necessarily have to reach your business contacts. So feel free to add the A&R that you met the other night or follow your favorite musician. They don't have to see those crazy antics that you'd rather hide behind closed doors.
3. Extended Reach
While you're reveling in the ability to share information with specific circles, you should know that Google+ offers criteria that allow you to post updates and links in your Stream to those that have you in their circles, even if you haven't added them in your circle (called Public) plus your circle's circles (called Extended Circles).
4. Cold Commenting
The benefit of Twitter is that you're able to reach out to just about anyone. Cold Tweeting is an accepted practice, which leads to forming impromptu professional relationships. Likewise, if you've added someone to your circle that you admire or would love to talk to, but they haven't returned the favor, don't fret. You're able to comment on the updates and comments that they have made available to the public. Maybe one day with the right comment, you'll finally be able to grab their attention.
5. Your About Page is SEO Friendly
You'll notice something entitled, Search Visibility in the About tab of your profile. What this means is that your About page is search engine friendly. Fill out your profiles as descriptively as possible with keywords that will get you noticed by Google and ranked higher on their search results page. For example, in your Introduction, you may want to refer to your band as being similar to X and Y, or specify your genre. In turn, your Google Plus profile may appear in the search results for those queries that people search, which in this case would be bands X & Y, or your genre.
(FYI) Hyperlinks and URLs are a NO NO: When writing your introduction don't use hyperlinks and .com URLs. Google ignores them in their search engine results page. For example:
6. Hangout With Fans
Facebook has attempted video chat, but it's limited to a face to face interaction. On the other hand, Google+ encourages video chat with up to ten individuals at a time. Hangout is an opportunity for you spend time on chatting via webcam with nine of your fans (Google Hangout supports only ten individuals at a time). A perk to this application is Google's utilization of Google Translate to allow for multi-language communication, which means that you can use this functionality to diversify your fan base internationally.
(Strategy) Win the Chance to Hangout: Leverage Hangout by holding contests. For example, the top nine fans who publicize your upcoming gig win thirty minutes of your time to Hangout with you and ask you anything you'd like.
7. Be Mindful of Your Top 3 Links
You're able to add links to your About page. But before you add links and forget about them, stack what you believe are your best three links that exemplify your work, whether it's your Facebook page, blog, Bandcamp or Myspace page. When your Google Plus profile shows up in Google's search engine results page, only the links that you place at the top will appear under the excerpted introduction.
(Strategy) How to Choose Your Top 3 Links: As a gesture of love for those fans, bloggers, or A&aR scouts that stumble on your Google Plus profile, make your top three links the following:
1. Your personality (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) 2. Your music (Bandcamp, Myspace, etc.) 3. Your website (Blog, your own domain, Facebook, etc.)
8. Build a Discussion around Your Photos
Create discussions around photos, and make sure to upload them often. Google+ has its own photo page that aggregates all photos from your circles onto what resembles Google Images. A clean and user friendly interface for Google Photos, which sets comments off in its own chat bar to the right, encourages frequent commenting.
(Strategy) Marketing Your Gig via Google Photos: If you have an upcoming gig, share it on Google Photos by uploading a poster of the event, and build a discussion around that image. Google Photos is grounds for bored fans browsing their circles' uploaded photos, which can result in them stumbling onto your poster.
9. Cross posting
10. Vanity URLs
Google doesn't directly support vanity URLs just yet, but of course someone out there had the free time to be creating an entire app around this. Vanity URL providers are third party providers and have not been endorsed by Google. Really, it's just a matter of time before vanity URLs will be offered for Google+. But if you can't wait, you can jump aboard the bandwagon and show off your shiny new Google vanity URL, in a few quick and easy steps using these providers:
I personally prefer gplus.to or plus.ly for simplicity's sake. I find it easier to remember plus.ly/francisybea than gplusnick.com/francisybea.
If You're Not Seeing the Value in Google Plus
With the potential for this new social media platform, it's just a matter of time before Google+ becomes an essential tool in your social media marketing box. If you're wondering about the potential, hop over to Chris Brogan's article, The Google Plus 50, which should open your eyes to Google+'s benefits. On a final note, don't forget to add a Google+ button to your blog.
You can find me on Google+ via plus.ly/francisybea and gplus.to/francisybea. Feel free to add me, and I will return the favor. If you don't have invites yet, send me your email address via DM to @musefy or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted at Dotted Music.