Google Plus: Should I, or Shouldn't I Use it For My Martial Arts Business?
If you've spent any time at all online in the past six months, you've no doubt heard about the latest social networking service from Google called "Google Plus." Sometimes referred to as "Google+" or simply "G+". It is very similar to Facebook with a different look and feel.
Google Plus has gotten quite a bit of buzz from the industry and many people have written that it's imperative to join if you want your business or website to succeed online in the eyes of Google. While it's certainly growing at a rapid pace, will it actually have that much of an impact on my business? That depends.
Looking at the numbers, Facebook has around 800 million users worldwide, while Google Plus has about 60 million users. These numbers are gross approximations. Nobody knows for sure what the actual numbers are, and in the case of Facebook, some of those accounts are duplicates for business and personal accounts. Still, we're talking about a lot of eyeballs for each and even getting a small slice of the action could be beneficial for your business.
We've talked about the importance of social media before and Facebook has always been recommended as a starting place to promote your business and website. Most people have personal Facebook profiles so creating a Facebook Page for a business is familiar territory.
With Google Plus, even though it works similar to Facebook, it's like starting all over again. There are new features and terms to learn and it will take some time to understand how everything works and get comfortable. It will also take some time to setup, find people to follow, and others to follow you back.
Some of the features of Google Plus include:
Circles are groups of friends you organize by topic. You could have Circles for Friends, Family, Clients, Industry Groups, Training Products, etc.
Sparks allows you to add topics that interest you, and it grabs information about those topics from all over the web and brings them to you.
Hangout is basically a place to video chat with your friends.
You may not be interested in Hangout, but Sparks could be a way to easily keep tabs on your interests. Everybody will have their own personal experience with Google Plus. Some people think it's easier to use than Facebook but most have said it took some time to get used to doing things a new way.
Because Google Plus is a Google product offering, using it regularly will “probably” impact your search engine visibility in Google search results. It's been touted by "many" search engine experts as the latest and greatest way to help improve your business profile on Google. While that may be true in part, you have to look at the entire picture to know if it will work for you and fit into your business flow and needs.
Social media and social networking takes time and effort, whether it's with Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. If you don't have the time to put forth a decent effort, it may not be worth it to try to manage yet another social network, let alone one of them.
If you regularly devote some time to Facebook and it's working for you or you enjoy it, you have two options: 1) continue working with it and build what you already have, or 2) add Google Plus and build that network while continuing with Facebook. After all, two networks are certainly better than one network.
If Facebook isn't doing anything for you, again you have two options: 1) stop spending time on Facebook and switch to Google Plus and see if it works better, or 2) stop spending time with social networking altogether and focus your efforts on something that is better suited to you and your business.
Whatever option works best for you, it's worth mentioning a few pieces of advice to help you be successful
Whether you choose Facebook, Google Plus, or a combination of both, you have to put in the time and produce quality content. Google has admitted that they track "Author Rank" as a signal of what matters to them. Who you are and what you post will get bumped up in search results if other people consider you and your posts important enough to share with others. Spreading yourself too thin by joining too many social networks could result in a mediocre presence and not help you in your efforts.
That's not to say that doing nothing at all is better than only doing a little bit. Posting and sharing good content every once in a while is still good. It's important to do it on a regular basis, even if that means once a week or once a month. Being consistent is almost as important as being good. It's much better to post once a week regularly than to post ten things on one day and then nothing for a month.
Find out where your customers are and be there too. If everybody you know is on Facebook, meaning your students, businesses you work with, the parents of your students, etc., your martial arts school should be on Facebook too. You wouldn't open a gas station in the middle of nowhere and hope cars stop by. You want to be on the busiest street in town. If you find that the people your business relies on are using Google Plus, it would be to your benefit to have a presence there too. Ask them. It will give you something to talk about outside of business and it's a quick and easy way to find out if you should explore it some more.