Google has made it impossible to ignore their social media platform, Google+ and Google Business Pages (which replaces Google Places pages as of last week). Many businesses stare agape at the vast unknown of the Google+ platform, paralyzed by fear and hesitate to interact for fear of upsetting their website ranking. Let it be known that doing nothing won’t help you.

Just like any other social media outlet, people are already talking about your business on Google+. Isn’t it time you were part of that conversation? Here are a few tips to managing your Google+ community:

Start with the basics: Interaction

Like Facebook and LinkedIn, Google+ sends you notifications when there has been some sort of interaction with your page. But do you know how to respond? Just like you would respond on any other social media platform.

  • Your own posts – if someone shares your post, take the opportunity to thank them.
  • Someone else’s post – if someone share a post with you, they probably felt it had some value to you, so look at the post and respond if it makes sense.
  • Mention in comments – Read the post and reply to the comment in which you were mentioned. This definitely packs a punch and you might be surprised by the positive reaction it creates.
  • Inclusion into someone’s circle – Nothing says loving like adding someone to your own circles, so take a look at these new people who had added you, and see if you can gain value from adding them back. Also, take a look at whose in their circles for new opportunities.

Move on to your brand – keyword searching

Don’t just be reactive. Go out and search on your branded terms and see what the buzz is about you. By running a search you can see people, pages, posts, hangouts, etc. When you find your brand in use, and it’s in a positive way, reach out and thank them. If the mention is less than positive, here is a great way to do damage control and reach out to repair the situation. Taking the time to mend a negative can often lead to even more exposure, this time in a positive light.

Searching on your branded terms gives you great insight on what people are saying about you, without you even being part of the conversation.

The Ripple Effect – what your content says and who it reaches

With Ripples, you can see all the shares for a specific page you have shared, not just the individual share’s Ripples. From here, you can track posts’ Ripples to see who your consistent influencers are. On the Ripples page you can see the top influencers for each post. This is a really great way to see who’s sharing your content (or your competitor’s content) and gives you easy access to reach out to them and make content. You can use this information for link building, for community management, for brand management, and more.

Mention in kind – reward those who help your brand

Just as you’re looking for posts mentioning your brand, so too are companies looking for the same thing. To get noticed, return the favor. People are just as important. Be sure to link directly to blog authors, community members, speakers at events, etc. When someone gets a personal notification that they’ve been mentioned, how much do you want to bet that they’ll re-share the post, or comment or +1 it or take some sort of action?

It’s nice to see your name “in lights” and the more you link out, the more they link in. Google+ makes this so easy to do since you don’t have to be in circles with people or brands in order to link to them (unlike Facebook). You can do this when you post or even when you comment on someone else’s post.

It’s Cool (and profitable) to Hangout

In addition to using chats/Q&A sessions to reach out to your customers and community, you can always hold a hangout. These allow you to interact with up to 10 people at a time. This is a no-brainer to replace focus groups and even thought leadership forums of the past.

The following are just a few examples of the power of the Google+ community and opportunities not to be missed. Share with us your thoughts on how to harness this untapped potential.