This post was originally published on Smart Insights on 10th October 2012. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure!
The overall aim of brands using social networking is to create engaged communities around compelling content that educates, entertains, inspires and/ or angers.
The key, then, is to generate interest and ultimately Likes, Retweets, +1s, comments and shares for the content that’s being published. By generating interest for specific posts, users can produce a viral effect where that interest is then multiplied as a result of others throughout someone’s social graph being exposed to and then (hopefully) interacting with that content themselves. And so the cycle continues as their social graphs become exposed to the content.
Creating impactful content on Google+
One of the unique aspects of Google+ is the intuitive nature of the interface and the ability to easily filter and segment people and companies into custom Circles. By focusing in on specific Circles, users can control the information and content the see from others.
But in order to get Circled (whether you’re a company or an individual), you have to offer compelling content that benefits the user.
By looking at the most popular pages on Google+, as well as the ‘Explore’ option (which can be found on the left hand navigation), we can begin to discover what types of content is making the most impact for brands and draw a few conclusions as to what works best on Google+.
One of the key features of Google+ is the visual nature of the platform. The interface allows users to post pictures and video that appear big, bold and in high resolution.
It may be a cliché but a picture really does tell a thousand words. It’s often worthwhile balancing the type of content you post to Google+. Whilst text may be necessary on some occasions, consider how users might respond to interesting, relevant pictures, too. These could be in the form of photography to tell a story, diagrams to explain a concept or an infographic to summarise rich or complex information.
Original video content is another great way to engage an audience and generate interaction.
A 500-word post can be condensed into a few minute’s video, allowing followers to digest information quickly and without having to read a long post.
Videos are also great for illustrating product demos, intro videos (e.g. to key personalities in your team or company), news announcements and animation.
Red Bull make full use of videos, many of which are dedicated to extreme sports and tied to their tagline “Red Bull gives wings to people and ideas” (which is consistent across the rest of their social activity).
Deals, offers and promotions
Followers of brands on social networks love to feel special and what better way than to let them know about special offers and promotions via a Google+ page?
Although Google has prohibited contests and promotions on Google+ pages, brands can display links on Google+ that point to external sites that are hosting the promotions.
Android use this to great effect, using their page to update fans on the latest Android news and guiding them to relevant offers and promotions.
Reaching out to your followers and asking them for their opinion is an excellent way of keeping them involved with what you’re doing and what you’re interested in.
One of the main differentiating aspects of social media is the ability it allows companies and brands to engage in a two-way conversation with followers and customers.
Instead of just broadcasting to followers about what you’re working on and thinking about, build a connection with them and invite them to become a part of the process.
Ford have executed this tactic to perfection by regularly asking their followers whether they’ll be going to motor shows, where they might be driving on the weekend and of course, what they think of new ranges such as the new Fiesta.
Hangouts allow multiple Google+ users to participate in spontaneous video chats and is a feature brands can use to engage followers in targeted discussions or focus groups around the topics they care about.
Although only 10 people can participate in a Hangout at one time, the Hangouts On Air feature allows for Hangouts to broadcast to many more viewers who can watch events , product demonstrations or focus groups in real-time.
Create content that your audience wants
Regardless of what content ‘works best’ on Google+, the content you post and share should always be relevant to your brand personality and most importantly, your audience.
Posting content will often involve a certain amount of trial and error so pay attention to what gets the most attention. Pictures and video may work well for one brand whereas wordy posts may be better for others.
Ferrari clearly know what their target audience wants – lots of cool pictures and videos of their stunning cars!
Whilst John Lewis’s marketing is very brand orientated (as demonstrated by their ads which are cross-posted on their Google+ page), it’s clear that the retail company’s followers also respond well to product-focused content, too.
And, of course, it’s not just big brands who have made an impression on Google+. Small and medium-sized enterprises are embracing the benefits of Google+, too, by making the most platform’ s key features and functionality.
Best Made Company is a US-based outdoor company specialising in the design and manufacture of handcrafted wilderness supplies. Their aim is to inspire others to get outside and use their hands and the company has used big, high-quality images of their products and inspirational videos on Google+ to help spread this message.
And another US business, King Arthur Flour (America’s oldest flour company), have a very clear understanding of what their Google+ audience want – great pictures of great food (made with their flour!) and a personalised approach to their contact with followers.
In summary, when creating your content for Google+ consider the following:
- Creating impactful content and the use of Circles
- Visual display
- Deals, offers and promotions
- Asking questions.
- Relevant content for your audience