Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of content recently. Easter caused a bit of a hiatus for many people, myself included. During the Easter period my family and I had a short break in Madrid. It was great to get away from rainy old England for a short while and spend some time absorbing the architecture, culture, history and tapas that Spain’s capital has to offer. It’s pretty sad to see the economic problems that Spain is facing at the moment, and I hope it comes though this difficult period relatively unscathed.

Bucking the trend

The Spanish economy is not the only one facing problems. Here in the UK it’s been pretty tough too, and the news that we have re-entered recession is not all that welcome either. However, 2012 has been a good year for Four Lakes so far, and I suspect there are many other businesses out there bucking the trend too. Is yours one of them? If so, let us know what you think has made the difference.

For Four Lakes one of the changes we made that has provided a little boost is Google+. I’ve used social media in the form of twitter and facebook for some time, and looked at the offering from Google as just ‘another social network’ initially. But that really does Google+ a disservice.

We have a great infographic on our site that explains is a lot of detail why all businesses should consider using Google+ ahead of any other social network. In essence it boils down to 2 factors:

  1. There is potential for a significant boost to your search engine rankings
  2. It is easier to connect to potential customers

Let me explain in a little more detail.

Search plus your World

Not long after Google opened G+ to the public, they made a tweak to search results that incorporated recommendations from your G+ contacts. Rather than try to explain this in text, here’s a nifty video from Google about it.

As a result of this change, someone searching for a service that you provide is more likely to find your site if one of their G+ contacts has recommended you. So even if you simply add the Google +1 button to your site you are potentially boosting its exposure.

Perspectives v People v Passions

One of the Google+ superstars, Guy Kawasaki, has a theory about Twitter, Facebook and Google+. According to him…

  • Twitter is for real-time perspectives (i.e. news, and opinion about the news)
  • Facebook is for people (i.e. connecting, and staying connected, with people you know)
  • Google+ is for finding those who share your passions (i.e. new contacts with the same interests as you)

From a business perspective, if you are looking for potential customers, then a network that allows you to connect to people around the world that share an interest, one that your product or service fulfills in some way, is marketing nirvana.

Lets assume you provide specialist photographic equipment. On Google+ you can do a quick search for photographers, circle them, and then start to engage with them. As with any social network you wouldn’t try selling to them immediately, but if you can demonstrate similar levels of knowledge and enthusiasm then, in time, they are likely to come to you over a competitor when they need what you offer.

Hanging Out

My favourite feature of Google+, and one which doesn’t have an equivalent on other social networks, is Hangouts. These are video chats with up to 10 participants, and there are an ever-growing number of apps that can be run in hangout sessions too. These apps can be fun (like ‘wearing’ a pirates hat) or business-oriented (like editing a shared document). Hangouts can be private or public too, and a limited number of people have the ability to broadcast their hangout live on YouTube.

As a means of engaging with existing or potential customers, Hangouts are hard to beat. You could, for instance, hold masterclasses, where you go through the capabilities of your product with a select audience, in place of a ‘try before you buy’ facility. Or you could use them for support purposes. Here at Four Lakes we run a regular hangout as a business networking session, allowing participants to get their networking ‘fix’ without need to travel.

Jump In

It’s important with Google+, as with any marketing channel, that you get it right from the start. Building on our knowledge and expertise, we now offer a Google+ consulting service. We can help sort out your personal profiles and set up your business pages, and link them back to your website in an appropriate manner. We can help you understand how to connect with potential customers, and do so in a way that engages rather than enrages them. We can help you run Hangouts, and provide the ability to stream them live on YouTube for maximum effect.

If you haven’t set up a personal profile, then do so now. Have a poke around, circle me, search for people with your passions, and start talking and listening. Come join our Monday morning hangout (the next one is on the 14th May) and see how powerful hangouts can be. Come on in, the water’s fine!


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