There are two important details to consider when looking for a social platform on which to build your brand’s presence. First, you want to make sure that your target audience is active on that platform. You put too much time and energy into crafting the perfect message for it to fall on deaf ears. Secondly, whatever platform you choose has to be a good fit. There are dozens of social networks available to you, but not all of them will meet the unique needs of your marketing, social, and customer care teams.

Although Google+ might not have the massive user base of Facebook or a narrow use case like LinkedIn, it’s definitely a platform that brands need to consider. Currently more than 500 million people are on Google+ and approximately 400 million of them are actively engaging through +1s, shares, comments, and recommendations. But more than that, there are unique advantages to being active on the social network that extend beyond user engagement.

With your marketing goals in mind, here are some compelling reasons why Google+ is a great fit for brands.

Better Discovery and SEO Value

Google+ has completely transformed the way brands are discovered online — specifically through Google search. In addition to the standard information like brand images and maps, people can view and follow your brand on Google+ right from search results. If someone is already following your Google+ Page, your content will appear higher up in search results.

Therefore, the more people who follow your brand, the more likely your content is going to appear in their search results. While we don’t recommend that you ignore traditional SEO practices, there’s definitely value in growing your Google+ community. And let’s not forget about the prime placement just to the right of search results with photos and promotional posts — you couldn’t ask for better exposure on Google.

Both Starbucks and The Economist use Google+ primarily for the SEO benefits. “When we think about posting on Google Plus, we think about how does it relate to our search efforts,” said Alex Wheeler, vice president of global digital marketing at Starbucks. Chandra Magee of The Economist had similar sentiments, stating that “there is potential there to help us get in front of new audiences, but it also helps with our SEO strategy because our posts on Google Plus actually show up in our search engine results.”

Literally Put Your Business on the Map

Let’s say you have multiple business locations and you want to promote them using Google+. In that case, we recommend creating local Google+ pages. This product is unique in that it has features that allow customers to easily connect with your business’s physical location. But don’t worry, local pages also share the functionality of other Google+ Pages so you can still create and manage circles, start and join Hangouts, and share content.

Once you’ve created a local Google+ page, you can literally put your business on the map through integration with Google Maps. To do this, make sure that you include your address so it’ll appear in neighborhood search results — thus increasing your reach to potential customers. Local pages also allow customers to leave ratings and reviews, which potential customers will want to read.

Data provided by SIM Partners found that local-optimized business pages increased the instances in which they ranked in the top seven local positions by 179 percent, in the top two positions by 399 percent, and in the third through fifth positions by 97 percent. Prior to optimization, the businesses studied ranked in the top seven positions for only 26 percent of their keyword combinations.

Lend a Hand Through Hangouts and Helpouts

With Google+ Hangouts, your brand can engage face-to-face with people anywhere in the world. In the past, brands have used the video tool to host virtual meetings, broadcast live concerts and conferences, and host interviews with key individuals.

Take Topshop for example. The brand completely reinvented its London Fashion Week show by offering fans a model’s-eye view of the fashion show. As a result, Topshop’s Google+ posts were viewed more than 400,000 times — a 400 percent increase — and comments went up by 340 percent per day. Other brands like TOMS and musicians like Daria Musk have had incredible success using Hangouts.

Similarly, brands have also successfully incorporated Google Helpouts into their strategy, which allows content creators to share expertise through live videos. Companies like Sephora, Weight Watchers, and Top Chef University have found unique ways to provide real-time help to fans and potential consumers.

As you can see, there are an incredible amount of benefits to creating a brand presence on Google+. And as an added bonus, once you’ve made the decision to integrate Google+ into your marketing strategy, you can easily manage your Google+ Page with Sprout Social. Here, we walk you through the integration process and highlight all of the different ways your Google+ content integrates with our management tool.

[Image credit: Cali4beach]