November 29, 2011

Tips for your nonprofit to succeed with Google Plus business pages

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Steps for making the most of the newest social network from Google

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, cause organizations, businesses, brands, social media managers, Web publishers, individuals.

John HaydonLast week I had the privilege of hanging out with Marc Pitman and Nathan Hand on Google Plus. At one point Nathan put a challenge on the table for the three of us to write a post about Google Plus Pages during the Hangout.

What follows is my version of the original document we collaborated on. Marc’s version is here and Nathan’s version is here.

A couple of months ago when Google Plus originally came out, a lot of people were hesitant to join because Google Plus didn’t offer business pages. But now that Google Plus business pages are available, the big question is: Now what?

Now, there are two different kinds of people asking “now what?”:

    1. People who’ve been using Google Plus for months trying to understand how to use Pages strategically. These folks have already spent a few months creating circles, finding interesting conversations and figuring out how to use the technology.
    1. People who know nothing about Google Plus. These folks are trying to figure out what hangouts are.

Google Plus Pages vs. Facebook Pages

As we were talking, we decided that Google Plus Pages are very different from Facebook Pages. (Google Plus Pages are also very different from Profiles.)

  • Google Plus Pages allow for more uses. A Google Plus business page has many of the same features as a Facebook Page, but also includes the collaborative utility of Facebook groups. With a Google Plus business page you can create circles for board members, staff, or any other group of people where you want to share private information (like a Facebook Group). You can also publish public updates that can be commented on, +1′d and shared (like a Facebook Page). This feature consolidation makes the Google Plus experience much easier to manage.
  • Google Plus is way more open than Facebook – almost as open as Twitter. This means that finding people and organizations with shared interests is much easier than on Facebook.
  • Google Plus pages have nothing like Facebook’s EdgeRank, a ranking system that determines which of your friends’ updates will appear in your stream. What this means is that when someone puts you in a circle, they will always see your Google Plus posts in their stream. On Facebook, EdgeRank determines if your content is seen in news feeds. But while you no longer have the pressure of improving your EdgeRank, you still have to keep people’s attention. This will be more important on Google Plus simply because you’ll have to compete with other organizations.

8 tips for success with Google Plus Pages

Create an awesome “About tab”
1 Make it useful, compelling and memorable for visitors. Marc observes that many Google Plus users decide whether or not to put you in a circle based on your About section.

Use an attractive main image
2 It goes without saying that your main image on your Google Plus business page is what will create the first impression for visitors. So make it count.

Turn your avatar into a gallery
3 One thing that’s amazing about Google Plus Pages is that you can upload multiple photos for the main avatar. This creates sort of a photo flip-book like I did with the Inbound Zombie Google Plus Page (click on the main image to see this effect). Organizations can use this in a number of ways. For example, the Humane Society could upload a lot more cat pictures.

Seek to help your clients/customers/donors
4 Don’t just use Google Plus to promote your own organization. Chris Brogan observed: “Brand pages are now open on Google+. Funny thing is, most of them seem set up to brag, not to honor their community.”

Search for conversations around your cause
5 Comment on those conversations as appropriate. Support other people’s agendas before your own.


6 One of the best Google Plus features is Hangouts, where organizations can connect with fans, volunteers and donors in a video conference. Hangouts allow for up to 10 people at a time and you can collaborate on shared documents or just have a casual chat. Read more tips about Hangouts from Nathan.

Do stuff with others
7 It can get complicated, especially because Google has a habit of tossing new features out to users to see how they’ll respond. Below is the three of us writing this post live, real time, together. We ended up learning a lot from each other simply by doing stuff.


Order Chris Brogan’s book
8Chris Brogan has written the definitive guide for businesses (and nonprofits) on using Google Plus: Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything.

What have you learned about Google Plus business pages?John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then connect up: Contact John by email, see his profile page, visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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  • Anonymous

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  • k bussey

    The launch of Google+ has been one of the most talked-about social media events of the year. Here’s how it can help your local business

  • Re: #3, Turn your avatar into a gallery.

    John, I uploaded multiple pictures for my page using the photo uploader on the ‘Photo’ page. Unfortunately, this just created an album instead of generating multiple avatars for a gallery, like you mentioned. In order to do this, do I need to drag multiple pictures to the profile picture uploader? Thanks!

    Also – it would be great to have a follow-up blog post about different ways for a social organization to engage followers in Hangouts. Any ideas for uses of Hangouts (webinars, ask, etc)?

  • JohnHaydon

    Lindsey – This feature only works for Pages, not Profiles.