Despite being labeled a “ghost town,” there are more than 300 million people on Google+ actively engaging through +1s, shares, comments, and recommendations. While it might not have the massive user base of Facebook or a hyper-focused use case like LinkedIn, it’s absolutely worth considering as part of your digital strategy.
Beyond Hangouts and Helpouts, there are several Google+ features that businesses should be taking advantage of, but most likely aren’t. Whether you’re connecting with customers, promoting content, or just collaborating with your team, here are three Google+ features to help reach your goals.
Chances are that Google+ isn’t the first tool you think of when it comes to sharing photos on social media, but maybe it should be. The platform offers amazing photo capabilities — from unlimited storage to automatic enhancements and robust editing tools.
It’s not hard to get photos and videos off of your mobile devices these days, but with Google+ Auto Backup turned on you no longer have to worry about manually uploading them. And as long as you’re uploading your media content at a standard size, you don’t have to worry about storage limits. Google+ offers unlimited storage space for images under 2048 x 2048 and videos less than 15 minutes long. Even if you don’t plan on sharing every picture from the latest industry event or your company’s holiday party, it’s always a good idea to keep them backed up.
Auto Awesome enables you to see your photos and videos with fun special effects added. Some effects, like falling snow or GIF animations, might be automatically added to your photos. But don’t worry, your original photos are safely intact in Google+ Photos — Auto Awesome just makes a copy of them.
According to Google, the easiest way to get Auto Awesome effects is to turn on Auto Backup and take a lot of pictures. When your photos match certain criteria (see the chart below), you might get copies of them made into things like short animations or wide-screen panoramas. Google+ will notify you when an Auto Awesome photo has been created. We should also note that these photos remain private until you decide to share them.
Earlier this summer, Google made it easier for its enterprise and business users to connect and collaborate with co-workers through new Google+ premium features. Now a standard part of the Google+ service for Google Apps, these premium features enable you to do two things:
First, you’re able to better tailor how your business uses Google+ with enhanced control options, like making Google+ posts restricted to your domain by default, or the ability to hide employee profiles in external searches. Second, you can collaborate more easily with remote members of your team using 15-person (instead of 10) HD video calls with Google Hangouts. You can also set privacy levels of your Hangouts to prevent accidental clicks by the public.
Although premium features don’t change the way that you previously interacted with Google+ or Hangouts, they show that Google is dedicated to business, especially enterprise, members.
Embeddable posts are less of a “feature” and more along the lines of a capability. That doesn’t make them any less important though, especially when you’re trying to build awareness around your brand and content on Google+. Just as you would with a Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram video, your Google+ posts can be embedded directly onto your blog or website.
Not only can this help to revive some of your older Google+ posts, but it also adds an interactive layer to your blog posts since logged-in readers can +1 or comment on your post directly from your website. It’s a win-win for engagement. You can enhance your posts through formatting to make them even more engaging. For example, take advantage of italics or bold settings to really make pieces of content stand out.
As a rule of thumb, only posts with images, videos, or links to a community support embedding. Private posts, events posts, Hangout on Air posts, as well as posts from within a community or restricted to a Google Apps domain do not.
Now that you know more about what Google+ has to offer, talk with your team to see how you can start integrating some of these features into your strategy moving forward. And if you’re still not convinced that Google+ shouldn’t be ignored, here are a few more reasons why your brand should be active on Google+.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.