Google +, Pinterest, Instagram – for PR consultants, new ways of sharing information seem to be popping up like rabbits. But which, if any, of these social networks should your brand be active on, and how?
Now nearly a year old, and with a reported 170m users worldwide, we thought it about time we check-in with the toddler of the digital PR family: Google+.
According to a recent report from eConsultancy, many brands who were early to jump on board the Google+ party bus, are reporting an increase in both visibility and traffic to their sites. While there is no direct link between activity on Google+ and organic Google search rankings, there is no doubt a connection between a high level of social media presence and an increase in SEO listings. Turning to our partner Caragh McKenna from The Search Agency for some explanation, we discovered that this increase is due to an increase in links both in-bound and out-bound.
The inevitable link between Google+ and SEO doesn’t end there. The recent migration of Google places to Google+ Places has meant that organic search results have been pushed down the page. Where previously the first 1 – 5 search results would appear ‘above the fold’, i.e. the user could view these results without having to scroll down, now the increase in paid results and Google+ Places results popping up below the search bar and above the fold. These natural results have been shifted down the page. Not such a big deal? Think again. The further down the page you appear, the fewer clicks your results collect. But where are these clicks going? Back in to Google+ Place results of course. If brands want to harness these clicks, they need to embrace Google+.
However, that seems to be the only real benefit of embracing a Google+ account. Facebook, on the other hand, is much more a place to engage with your fans.
With Facebook’s recent flotation, the pressure is on for the business to make some dollar. Facebook has been testing some new features across brand pages, including more insights to give page admins more information on how many people are seeing the content they produce. A ‘percentage seen’ stat shows the percentage of a page’s users who have seen a post, while also making stats about numbers of views and the break down of these views into organic and viral more easily accessible to page admins. Is there another link between Facebook’s flotation and its focus on delivery of tangible ROI stats perhaps?
A backlash of reports suggests that only one fifth of Facebook users have ever bought anything as a result of site advertising. In response, Facebook has introduced ‘Sponsored Stories’ as a way to get their hands on brands’ online advertising spend. The success of these stories still remains to be seen, but keep your eyes peeled for further ways to pay to interact with your Facebook community.
So, what can you be doing now to harness both Google+ and Facebook? Well, here are some points to consider when tackling your approach.
1. Keep it updated - If you’re going to set up a branded account for your company, don’t bother unless you are going to keep the page updated with fresh, tailored content on a regular basis
2. Listen, absorb, respond – It’s no good to robotically tap in your username and password, then post an update, and log off, only to return the next day and day after, on repeat. Instead, know what’s going on around you. Social Media channels are popularity contests, and the way to win popularity contests is to know what’s going on and rolling with it. So log on and get social!
3. Don’t be slap-dash – different channels need a different approach so seek out and post relevant, up to date specific content for each channel
4. Always keep your eyes peeled for the next big name in social media and keep your ear close to the ground for any movements or improvements and the effects it could have on your brand.
Whilst Google+ doesn’t directly affect organic SEO, features such as Google+ authorship associations and social search do have a very considerable impact on result ranking.
Par exemple: John Craske has himself down as a contributor to the Firefly Comms blog on his Google+ profile, I read his blog post. Any future results will tend towards content produced by him. Moreover, in combination with social search, if my friend happens to +1 said post, that post (and any others associated with the +1’ed-post’s-author’s-Google+ profile) will get shifted up the rankings.
These are a couple of very substantial reasons, in spite of it oft feeling like flogging a dead cow, to persevere with Google+, so far as I can see.
Not to mention its being a far less bloated, more organically arranged alternative to Facebook.
Nice blog post John. Personally, I see Google+ as more of a competitor to Twitter than Facebook, but I guess it depends how you use it.
You can have all the SEO benefits you like, but without a community, it lacks oxygen to survive.
I’ve been on G+ for a while, but not really dedicated a great deal of time to it, so decided to starve myself of Twitter for a week (I’ve called it going “Cold Twerky”, apologies for the pun) and invest the equivalent amount of time in Google+.
It started this morning, so it’s very early on in the experiment, but two things strike me as interesting. Firstly, I DMed a few Twitter friends and none of them were prepared to leave Twitter, even for a week, suggesting that Google+ faces a big challenge to get people to migrate. Secondly, when I started engaging on Google+ I found that people were almost evangelical about it and the bonds there seemed stronger than Twitter.
Who knows, maybe there’ll be space for Facebook, Google+, Twitter as well as the up and coming services like Pinterest and Instagram, but I suspect that people’s social media attention is finite and only a few will survive. What do you think?