Choosing the right network on which to build your business’ online community can be likened to buying a new pair of jeans; there may be many different styles but not all of them are going to suit you. Just like with jeans it is also about the image you want to portray to the rest of the world. If you have decided that Google+ for business suits your business, and if you don’t there is a chance you will get left behind in the business world, then read on and find out how to set up and get the best from your online community.

First Steps

The first step in building an online community for your business is to sign up to the network you have chosen. Sounds obvious I know, but with Google + for business there is a little catch, you must have a personal Google page first. So if you don’t already have your own personal page you need to stop reading and do that now, it will help make the rest of the process simpler and easier to understand. Once you have your personal account you can move on and create a page for your business.

Before you start this process it helps to have a very clear idea of the industry sector that your business fits into and what you want to achieve. If you are unclear on any of these then you will either end up placing your page in the wrong category or your lack of direction will show in the contents your page. When choosing your category you will be offered a list of options in a drop down menu. A good tip if your business type isn’t on the list you are probably looking in the wrong category; check the other categories before choosing ‘other’.  The better defined your business is the easier it will be for others to find. Choose the right category for your business to attract the right visitors

 Next you will have the chance to  choose a name for your page and include your website, if you have one. The most important box on this page is the appropriate content choice, you must decide whether your content is suitable for everyone or only for adults (there are two choices for adults over 18 and over 21). You must choose ‘Alcohol related’ if buying, selling, making, distributing or extolling the virtues of anything that is alcohol related. Once you have agreed to the terms and conditions (after you have read them of course) you are ready for the next stage.

You are there, but is anyone else

I bet you are feeling quite happy with yourself at this minute. Enjoy the sense of achievement for just a moment, because you are not finished yet. You may be logged on and linked in, but now you need to bring others to your page. Here your approach needs to be less ‘resistance is futile’ and more ‘build it and they will come’. So let’s get building.

Firstly think of ten words (wait and let me finish) that positively describe your page and therefore, by reflection, you and your business. Remember to keep it honest, don’t go making promises that your page can never live up to, but, don’t sell yourself short either. If you are unsure where to start then open a new tab and explore the pages of other companies in your business or industry sector. Checking the content of other pages is good practice anyway, you can see which approaches are working and which are not.  Once you have done this, you need to add your relevant contact details. these will be the details that prospective customers, job applicants or even future business partners will want to be able to reach you on. If you work from home, don’t use your home phone number, in fact it’s just good practice not to give this out to anyone outside of friends and family, you need some form of privacy even at your busiest times.

Ever Increasing or Decreasing Circles  – You Decide

Space analogy coming up – think of your page as a space flight, you have completed all your pre-flight checks, strapped yourself in, taken off successful and are about to enter orbit. The mission doesn’t stop there, if you want to remain in orbit you have to make changes, additions and corrections where necessary. You have to remain vigilant at all times and in contact with the ground crew at all times so that they know you are still there. If you take out the life and death element, then this is the approach you need to take to your Google + page. Once you have set up your page (including a suitable photo and cover that reflect you and your business) you need to invite people into your circle, let them know that you are there and then add to the site to keep them interested and engaged. Ways to stay in orbit can include:

  • Post regular news updates for your company – let your circle know what is happening and encourage them to comment. This could be as simple as a picture of a new product and a question. You could even develop this into allowing a selected number in your circle to have free samples in return for reviews and them sharing the news through the +1 button.
  • Run a competition – it doesn’t have to be extravagant. One of the best I have seen was a free hand made piece of jewellery, for the best one sentence comment on the company’s latest range.
  • Respond – if a comment or question is left on your page (or on a page in your circle) and you can respond positively then do so, it will help increase your profile and your reputation as a source of help and information.
  • Don’t overdo the posts – you want balance between your input and that of your circle.
  • Hold a Hang Out – Set a time for a call with people in your circle and talk to them in real time and really sell yourself and what you are trying to achieve. A tip for this would be to have an overall theme for the call so that you have a focus. This could be a great combination with either the competition or product reviews.

Aim Higher and Further

If you have managed to maintain your original orbit don’t get stuck there. Always look for new and innovative ways to develop your online community and to involve those in your circle. It’s not just about increasing the size of your  circle, you also have to constantly check, and if possible, improve the quality of experience for those who are already there. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas (as long as they are legal, moral and in keeping with your business) and accept all feedback as an opportunity to learn. So why are you still sitting there? Go and take your business into orbit with a Google+ page for business; just constantly ask yourself one question are you aiming for the moon or reaching out for Mars?