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    Getting Your Business Started with Google +

    Are you struggling to decipher Google+ for your business? You're not alone!

    Google+ may just be one of the trickiest social media platforms to navigate, with its constant changes and slightly clunky functions, no one could blame you for not jumping on the bandwagon. But there's a few good reasons why your business should be on Google+.  The first reason is simple; you should be on there because it's Google and no one loves Google+ more than Google.

    When you post something on your Google+ page it will appear on the Google search engine relatively quickly. Keeping your page filled out and active and is great for your search engine rankings - something all business owners should be trying to achieve. So I'm going to run through Google+ and offer you some tips and advice to put into action for your business.

    1. Personal vs. Business Profiles

    A business profile on Google+ is called a Brand Account. It will be an extension of your personal profile. You can get onto your Brand Account by clicking on the photo in the top right corner of your browser. If you are using a Personal Profile as well as a Brand Account it's best to make them both distinguishable from each other rather than having them both visually identical and posting the same content. You should use your Personal Profile to post personal content that will be relatable to your customers and help humanize your brand. This will help to drive traffic to your Brand Account and hopefully to your website.

    Alternatively you could use a Personal Profile in place of a Brand Account. However some features will be limited.

    2. Setting your Custom URL

    You should set Custom URL as soon as it's available to you. You will need to have ten or more followers. A banner will appear under your cover photo telling you that you can set your Custom URL. Setting your Custom URL will help make your page distinguishable. 

     3. About Section

    Make sure your About section is filled in as much as possible. Check the settings to make sure the information you want to display is set to public.  Your About section will be indexed on Google so it needs to be keyword rich. Having a properly filled out About Section helps you to appear more trustworthy to potential customers.

    4. Appearances

    Your logo and your cover photo are the most valuable visual real estate on your Google+ Page. This is the first thing people see when they land on your page and you need to use it to show them exactly what you do and how well you do it. You have the option of creating animations (videos or GIFS) for your cover photo and profile photo.

    Many say it's best to use a picture of yourself as your Profile photo. Google+ is all about interaction and the best way to connect with people is by appearing friendly, approachable and most of all - human. The optimal Profile photo size is 520x520. 

    Use your cover photo to show your logo, service, or some of your best products. Perhaps you could a collage. The cover photo does scroll, bear that in mind when you create your cover. The cover photo size is 1080x608.

    5. Gallery

    You can upload photos using Google Photos and they will appear as a Gallery when people click your About section. You can use Google Photos to edit your photos and add filters, and also to create slideshows and animations which can be posted on your page.

    6. Posting

    You don't have to post daily to get good results with Google+, but it does help. Regardless, you should post as regularly as you can. I personally post once a week or more if I remember to or have something great to share. If you're stuck for time try scheduling some posts in advance using the app Hootsuite.

    7. Formatting

    Google+ allows you to use text and font formats, as well as hyperlinks both in your About section and in your posts. You can make text bold, italic, underlined and strikethrough. Read this blog for learning more about post formatting.

    8. Micro Blog

    You should use Google+ as a micro blog as well as a regular social platform. Create micro blogs around 200-300 words long and post them alongside a photo or a link. Use strong, carefully chosen keywords and remember Google is going to index this so it makes easy SEO for your business.

    9. Plus Ones

    Ask for +1's as your Call To Action e.g "If you like this give it a +1!" Interact with your followers as this helps build a strong relationship with them. Leave comments and +1's as often as you can. This makes you appear in more circles and feeds so more people will take notice of you. 

    10. Hashtags and Tagging

    Similar to Instagram, make sure to use #hashtags on your posts. Don't go overboard though or people will find it a bit spammy. Clicking on hashtags and engaging with the posts will help you get noticed and lead to more follows. You can mention and tag people the same way you would on Facebook e.g @taskzombie.

    11. Gaining Followers

    Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Google+ will require a bit of work to gain followers at first. The best way to gain followers is to follow others and they will more than likely follow you back. As you gain more followers, you’ll appear in more Feeds, Circles, Groups and Discussions.

    12. Communities

    Joining a Community is a great way to reach people who are interested in specific topics. The more active you are in a Community, perhaps by giving advice or simply by participating in conversations, the more likely it is that people will become interested in you and what you do and eventually follow you. Joining specific Communities also helps you connect with the right kind of Followers rather than people who aren't interested in you and what you do.

    All New Zealand small business owners are welcome to join the Network NZ Community on Google+. You're welcome to post freely in this community and invite others to join. 

    I hope that you have picked up some helpful advice for getting the hang of Google+ for your business.