Google+ As A Business Research Tool
Why should you seriously consider Google+ as a business research tool? You mean… apart from the fact that Google is still the number one search engine?
There are many factors that make Google+ a platform to add to your business research toolbox:
- Google Hangouts on Air – if you use them, you will not only be searchable in Google+ but automatically in YouTube too
- Automatic title tags – Google+ treats the first sentence of your post as a Title. This gives it extra power in general Google search results, as well as in Google+.
- You can keyword-optimize your posts – This increases targeting and focus in searches – both your own (for brand monitoring) and others
- You can search posts, people and pages
- You can search Google+ communities
You can also use tools and features that other social networks don’t have – such as Google+ Ripples…
Step 1. Using Ripples
Surprisingly, not many people are aware of this handy little feature.
To view “ripples” for any post:
1. Click the down arrow in the post top-right corner
2. From the drop-down menu, select “View Ripples”
This will immediately give you information on the sharing history of that particular post:
- The number of public shares (Note: It doesn’t show private ones)
- The spread of the post over time
You will also be able to view a list of actual posts shared on the right-hand side of the page.
Sometimes post behavior may surprise you – especially if you see a post by one of your top industry influencers and assume that it must have gained many shares. Ripples show you whether or not public shares were high or low.
The comment list at the right can show you whether or not the comments were of value (the ones in the example above were not: They were “empty” comments.) Seeing top posters and the type of feedback they received can give you much more accurate and valuable feedback when you are researching niches, audiences or competitors.
Step 2. Google+ Hashtags 101
Another advantage to using Google+: Hashtags – which some reviewers think work better than Facebook hashtags.
1. Using Hashtags
One of the best things about Google+ hashtags is the way they appear in search results. Say you search Google+ posts for a specific keyword: Within your results, if someone has used a hashtag, it will immediately display it.
Glancing through post search results, it is easy to get a feel for hashtags that are popular by the number of times they repeat in your search results – and you can also research exactly who uses them. Are they in alignment with your marketing audience? Are they used by top Google+ or industry/niche influencers?
Analyzing data such as this can help you focus your Google+ hashtag use more effectively and accurately.
You can also find and follow hashtag accounts by simply typing “hashtags” in the Google+ search bar.
Using Hashtags for Brand Monitoring:
Create your own hashtags to help monitor your brand. For example, if you created the hashtag “#lemondropjewelry” and inserted it at the end of each post about your Lemon Drop jewelry line, you could easily run a search later to see:
- Who is sharing your posts – and who is the top sharer
- Which posts were shared the most – and which is the top post
- What questions people are asking
- Whether or not your hashtag is trending
And just about any result you care to measure for that hashtag.
To Create your Hashtag:
a) Type “#” (without the quotes)
b) Type your word or keyword phrase (without any spaces)
c) END WITH THE SPACE OR TAB KEY
This last step is different from Twitter or Facebook – so be sure to keep it in mind.