It’s been a year since Google launched the social networking site Google+.
The site was big news at the time. People in the online marketing world were buzzing with anticipation. Google+ was the search company’s first real legitimate threat to the social media king, Facebook.
Google has been the leader in the search marketing world for over ten years. The company launched in the late 1990s and since then they have been a dominant force in the online world. Businesses have been able to acquire lost cost customers via the paid search ads model.
Now Google is looking to expand into the social world. It’s unclear at this point how Google+ will play into their business model, but it’s important to pay attention.
You’ve probably asked yourself this question. Is this another social networking site? How many of those are there these days?
The truth is there are many social networking sites, but when a company like Google dips its toe (more like jumps in fully) it’s worthwhile to take notice. Reports have been released showing the impact Google+ can have on both paid and organic rankings in the Google search results. The popular thought is a company’s standing on Google+ will have more impact on search rankings in the future.
Google+ is your basic social network with a few new offerings. The layout is typical Google. It’s simple and clean. The photos are used as a feature of profiles and business pages.
Google+ had all the favorite features of previous social networks:
The friends feature was interesting on Google+. One unique aspect of the new social network was that it focused heavily on segmenting your connections. Facebook and other social sites had allowed customers to create groups of friends, but it had never really caught on until Google+.
Circles became one of the buzzwords shortly after the launch of Google+. People could segment their connections. Circles was useful because it allowed each user the ability to control more of their messaging. A user could publish a public comment for only those in their Work Circle for example.
Another feature on Google+ that was interesting was the focus on video chat. It was interesting that Google was pushing the video chat especially after Tom Anderson of MySpace claimed that his company had actually had the feature long before any of the other social networks.
The video chat on Google+ allows users the opportunity to video chat with friends and even better friends can chat in groups. The possibilities are many and people only seem to be scratching the surface. Celebrities have even been hosting group chats with their fans including famous golfer Tiger Woods.
So you’ve heard of Google+, but the real question is what can it do for your restaurant business.
Social media and social networking sites have provide an interesting opportunity for businesses of all kinds. Social networks provide a chance for businesses to connect with a target audience and attract new customers in a way that wasn’t previously available.
For a restaurant business social media properties like Google+ offer specific benefits and opportunities.
First, Google+ allows restaurants the opportunity to build a list of followers. The old direct marketing wisdom was that the money was in the list. If you can build a list of people that opt-in to your updates and messages you have something powerful. Google+ allows restaurants the chance to market to followers in various circles.
Second, companies can interact with target audience members and share a vested interest in the business. What this means is that Google+ offers companies the chance to give their customers a vested interest in the company’s success. For example, a company could ask for employees to share suggestions for new menu items. A contest could be held where the best menu idea gets put on the menu for a month. When people have their own creations added to the business process they become vested. Social media allows companies to give customers vested interest in a very public way. The interested customers will share their success with their friends, family and peers. That brings us to our next point.
Referrals drive social media success. Google+ is about referrals just as the real world is about referrals. The goal of your restaurant on Google+ is to focus on what will make people want to share the story of your restaurant with their other connections. You want people to discover you and Google+ gives your current customers a chance to share your story. Give your current customers content they want to share. You’ll see your referrals increase because of a platform like Google+.
In order to create a Google+ Business Page you will need a Google account. From here you can get started on your personal Google+ profile. The only required information is your full name. The rest you can determine if you want to make it public or private.
Next you’ll want to get setup with your Google+ For Business page. This is where things start to get exciting. You create a page much the same way you would a profile. You will add your restaurant as a Local Business or Place. This is important because it will help potential customers find your business easier when they are looking for a place to eat. Follow the rest of the steps to fill in your business information and you’ll be ready to go.
The goal of any social media site is to attract new customers and grow the business.
Google+ for restaurants works the same way. The goal is to grow your business. In order to do this you’ll need to offer something your current customers and fans will want to share with their friends, family and peers. That “something” to share is almost always content.
Content can include:
There are no limits to the cool things you can share on Google+. The one point to understand, though, is that you want to think of your restaurant website as the hub of all your online activity.
It’s good to make sure you originate content on your site. This way you own the content and no matter what happens to Google+ (or Twitter or Facebook) your content will always live and be accessible.
It’s also best to focus on building your audience around your own Web destination, which is your website. The idea to to get people from Google+ to your website and your restaurant location.
To check out a few real world examples here are some restaurants currently using Google+.