For public companies seeking to improve their online branding, Google+ should be on the radar. Google Search, Gmail and Chrome are dominating their respective applications, and it would seem that over time, we’ll all become more accustomed to using Google+ as an investor relations tool.
Even though Google+ Pages for Businesses are still in development, they offer dozens of functions that you simply won’t find in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. With all of the existing integrations with other Google tools, and new features being released periodically, now’s the time to implement google plus disclosure strategies.
KEY BRANDING POINTS
Use Relevant Cover Images
Cover images provide an excellent opportunity to grab audience attention. While many companies choose to take a quick screenshot from their website and be done with it, we feel this is a great chance to add stock information and additional company branding. Even variations on your original logo can be eye-catching in this space. For maximum effect, change your cover image regularly. If you have a trade show coming up or a news release just out, add this information graphically to the top of your Google+ page within the cover image. Events are ideal for this as well. Basically, take advantage of any on-screen real estate that a Social Network gives you.
Add Other Social Media Links
Part of the reason for having a Social Media for Investor Relations strategy has to do with search-based branding. That is, when someone puts your company name into Google, what are the results they see? Filling those first 10 slots with materials relating to your company is a tough job for any company. Only 9% of Fortune 500 companies have actually succeeded in this.
Building links between your Social Media profiles, Press Releases, and corporate website gives you a much greater chance of controlling this search branding. As you can see below, links from Google+ are easy to place, thus joining your company Google+ Page to all your other Social Networks.
KEY ENGAGEMENT POINTS
Creating enthusiasm around a Company Google+ Page can be really tough, especially if you’re working for a Startup or a Junior Company. The secret is to focus on engagement, not followers. By following these few engagement tips and saying relevant things to the right people, you’ll be able to achieve a much greater level of visibility for your Page and more importantly, your content.
Mention Other Google+ Pages In Your Posts
When you find good content, don’t try pass it off as your own. Instead, find the original creator, add that page to a circle, and then mention them when you re-post the content. This is largely done for you if you are re-sharing another Google+ post, but if you stumble across something awesome in your business intelligence, it’s well worth taking the time to generate that connection. You’ll likely have the content +1’d by the original creator and thereby get your company in front of their followers as well. Mentioning other pages shouldn’t be a daily part of most google+ disclosure strategies.
Use Hashtags On Posts
In much the same fashion as on Twitter, Google+ allows users to tag posts according to keywords and phrases that they think will assist others in finding content. If for example you’re mentioning a specific industry or region, it can be a good idea to #hashtag these in your Google+ posts in the hopes that they become more visible in Sparks. How effective is this? We’re still exploring. For now? Do it as long as it’s not offensive or misleading and that it fits with your material disclosure process.
Vary Post Content
Since company press releases are usually quite dull in terms of formatting, mixing up your content during low company news periods is an effective strategy in maintaining follower engagement. Engagement rates increase significantly when posting single images and videos on Google+. Try to throw in at least one or two of these per week so that your Company Google+ Page has some color. Another good idea is to create Slideshows and Earnings Infographics from the data published in your press releases in the weeks after they’re published. Graphic design has a huge impact on retention of earnings data so be mindful of this in your content creation strategy.
Add Events and Hangouts
Events work similarly in Google+ and Facebook. Though for one big reason we much prefer the Google+ system. Using Google+, it’s possible to schedule an Event that can be held within Google+ itself via what’s known as a “Hangout”. Hangouts provide a way for a public company to hold open-forum Q&A sessions with directors or management and allow the the stakeholders to ask questions via video press release software – similar to a grouped Skype call. The advantage of Google Hangouts over Skype is that you can also record the conference call and publish it to YouTube. While we’re sure few public companies have taken advantage of this in 2012, we expect it to become far more common in 2013 and beyond.
Use Saved Searches
One feature that Google+ Pages have over and above using Facebook for material disclosures is the ability to perform and save a series of searches for later use. These can include any string of keywords relevant to your company. We suggest you start with your company name, industry, partners and competitors. Checking feeds daily for searches like “Oil and Gas Investing” can give you the perfect impression of what is being discussed at that time. This strategy can provide dozens of engagement opportunities every day.
The first step here is to forget about Followers. Yes, one of the purposes of Social Media is to create a following for the Company. But the engagement of an audience is far more critical than its size.
Google+ Ripples are Google’s answer to Facebook Insights. The advantage of them is they allow you to monitor the effect of a Google+ post as it moves out in to Social Media and away from the original source. The difficulty right now though, is that there is no succinct dashboard for monitoring all Google+ Ripples at once. We expect that this should hit the Social Network towards the end of 2012.
Analytics Social Conversions
It’s great if all your posts on Google+ are being shared and reaching a large audience. But ultimately, we run a Google+ campaign to get more eyes on our press releases and company content. An excellent measure of this comes through a metric provided by Google Analytics. Social Conversions provide detailed statistics on your Social Media ROI.
This is just the tip of the Google+ iceberg. For more information about implementing a Google+ Page for your public company, please visit our Social Engagement page or Contact Us for a more detailed explanation of any of the points you’ve found here.