I'm nuts about Google+. I gave a nod to the social media platform in my column last October (and in my latest book, Google+ for Business), calling it the next big thing. (And I don't make such predictions lightly.) Why? The platform is more than just a boon for networking and marketing--you can also put it to work to boost your revenues, online and off. Here are some tips.
1. Class Up the Joint
If you have an instructional or coaching business, Google Hangouts provides a free, ready-made online classroom. (Skype also offers group chat but charges for the service.) I've seen people teach guitar lessons, offer tutoring and more. You can schedule up to 10 students in a group class. I look forward to seeing the many ways entrepreneurs will make use of this tool.
2. Show Your Stuff
Posting a video that showcases your products or services can really boost sales. Consider uploading a video with a demo or discussing the various services you offer. Or ask your customers to send video testimonials about your business.
Get Ready to Connect Use your "About" page to explain the kinds of services you offer and how people can work with you. • List your e-mail address and, whenever possible, other ways customers can contact you. Choose your links wisely. Don't just list the URL to your main business page. Instead, point toward a page (e.g., one that features your premier product) that encourages customers to take a specific next action on your site. • Spend time connecting with potential prospects and peers. Comment on (without spamming) other people's posts. Be an active--and trusted--member of the community. • Create and share four (or more) posts per day that add value to potential buyers' lives.
3. Help Customers Find You
Tick off the "public" option when you post something on Google+, and the platform's namesake search engine will index the information pretty quickly. That makes it a lot easier for people to find--and shop at--your business. Run a hamburger business in Milwaukee? Post "best hamburgers in Milwaukee." You should see more customers walking through your door in no time flat. One thing: Don't go overboard with this feature or your hamburger claims will turn to spam.
4. Demonstrate Your Expertise
Many people use Google+ to reach out to their circles with questions about products or services. While exploring the platform one day, I noticed that a software developer had posted a specific query about a service. That was a perfect opportunity for a consultant to offer some help--and to get on that software developer's radar.
Consider searching out people who need the services you offer. When they have a question, post a comment demonstrating why you should be their go-to service provider. But balance is key. Give away simple answers for free; offer paid services for solutions that require more time and expertise. Again, be careful. Don't do a hard sell of your services or you'll turn off potential customers.
Think of Google+ as a powerful tool for finding opportunities, plus a great way to sell via a multifaceted channel. You can do all kinds of preselling and direct selling using these tools. You can recommend links to your products, host private consulting meetings via the Hangouts feature and much more. The real beauty of a social networking tool this powerful is that you can use it in many more ways than you can that pesky old telephone. So, start experimenting.