To “G” or Not To “G”? That is the Question

g+

Original Title: “To Be or Not To Be?  G+ Is the Question”

A Post by Mike Elgan (a blogger who writes about technology and innovation for a living) was discussed on Heather Turner’s Bed and Breakfast Forum, a private G+ community for Innkeepers and their supporters.

I was asked my opinion on the topic posted by Mike Elgan that all you really need to be concerned with is G+, and not with other Social Media Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.

My hypothesis is that Innkeeper’s Guests are not using G+ yet, and that dropping all the Social Media accounts where your guests are “Hanging Out” is NOT a good idea.

So, to determine if our hypothesis was correct, we Posted an Innkeeper Survey.  We asked for 2 main pieces of information.

1)      How many guests have frequented your establishment?
2)      How many of these guests are following you on G+?

The Results were just what we expected.  Innkeeper’s guests are not using G+ as their Social Media outlet.  We are finding that guests that are involved in Social Media tend to lean towards Facebook and/or Twitter.

Which Ponds do you “Fish In” for your Guests?
Twitter, Facebook and G+ all have their own Social Media Outlets where anyone can set up an account, log in and share information with each other.  The “Ponds” below indicate the volume of where most Innkeeper’s guests “Share” or “Look” for information in those specific outlets. We also included Google Search as a place where Past, Present and Future Guests look for you.  We encourage you to check your Google Analytic Statistics to verify “where YOUR Fish are”.  We know that most of our Innkeepers receive the majority of their online traffic via Google Search.

Where do You Fish?

As you can see, G+ doesn’t have any fish in their pond – yet.  As part of our Survey of Innkeepers, the results were out of approximately 160,000 Guests, only 290 were following our Innkeeper’s Personal or Business G+ accounts.  That is less than .001%.  Therefore we have no “Fish” represented in our G+ pond.

But does that mean you should give up on G+ ?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!

G+ is NOT “JUST” a Social Media Outlet.
It is being used by Google for a variety of other reasons that can benefit your business.

  • Authority SnapshotBy establishing a Personal G+ Account, which is required to then claim your Google + Business Listing, allows you to establish yourself as an Authority when you publish ANYTHING online.  That authority, when attached properly to your Website, Blog and literally anything you write online, will boost your placement in the Google SERPS.  Which is where we’ve already established MOST of your traffic is finding you.  Authority tagged articles include your head shot, as seen in this example. Read More…
  • Google doesn’t know WHO is following you in G+.  They don’t know if it’s a guest, a vendor, or another Innkeeper.  They just know you are being active online.
  • As you begin to post in G+, those posts can and will index as SERP results just like your Blog or Website Pages.  I rarely see a Facebook post or Twitter Tweet in Google Search Results, but I do see more and more G+ post as results for topics I am searching.

Who is in your Google SERP Pond?

  • Finally, take a moment to look into Google’s Crystal Ball for the future of Personalization.  When your guests, or anyone for that matter, follow you in G+, they are typically logged into their Google Account when they are searching the web.  By being logged in, G+ is able to display recommended results and +1s from writers in their circles more prominently.  We can see Google pushing users to be logged in when searching in order to receive the most appropriate and timely results.  It’s already happening on Desktops, but as Mobile continues to grow, more and more users will be logged in on their phones, and those personalized results will really begin to take hold.  Learn More …1825 G+ Results

Two Faces of GoogleG+ currently has 2 Faces

Face 1: As a Social Media Outlet
Visibility and awareness of being followed by your guests in their Social Media System.

Face 2: As Google SERP Support
G+ provides support to your Website, Blog, etc. by providing Authority, giving better placement in the Google SERPS.

We already know that G+ Authority WORKS!  When installed correctly, it DOES boost pages in the SERPS that are from an Author with Authority. That alone is a great reason to get active with G+.

When you add to that Google’s push to have people be logged in while they search, and because most mobile users are automatically logged in at all times via the Google apps on their phones, being on G+ now means you’ll be there as it grows.

We also know our Innkeepers are having a hard time getting their guests to follow them on G+, and that in itself is discouraging.  You can see that frustration in the comments of our Innkeepers that completed our survey.

  • “Regular people do not use G+. I told my 891 people on FB twice that I was on G+ and only one came and liked it!”
  • “I don’t think G+ has anything to do with guests, but about your rankings.”
  • “It’s frustrating that guests are not using G+.”
  • “None of my guests seem to be on G+.”
  • “I just use G+ to learn and socialize with other innkeepers.  Never have had a guest use it.”

Mary White of BnBFinderSo, I’ve taken this question to a friend and colleague in our Industry, Mary White of BnBFinder.com for some marketing suggestions and advice on how to grow your G+ Social Media base.

“This is a very important post and once again Lisa is on target in pointing out new and important information.  Google+ is something that can’t be overlooked.  In fact I think everyone can agree that ignoring anything that Google thinks is important is a mistake.  As busy innkeepers you want to see immediate results because your time is precious; but when it comes to search engine optimization taking the time to continuously add quality content is imperative so here are some ideas…”

  1. Claim and Verify your G+ business page.
  2. Add a G+ badge to the signature of your email and on your website.
  3. Don’t restrict your social media activity to Facebook and Twitter; post your content on G+ (such as your blogs, recipes, specials, etc) and share the G+ link on Facebook or Twitter where you already have guests following you to drive traffic to your G+ page.
  4. Use other social media outlets as a driving force to promote G+.  For example encourage Facebook friends to visit your G+ page.  Maybe post a mouthwatering picture of one of your delicious treats on your Facebook page and direct users to  G+ for the recipe.
  5. Tell guests about your G+ page and let them know you frequently post G+ specials and events.  Then be sure to put specials on G+ to get guests used to looking for them there too. 
  6. Learn and use hashtags on all social media outlets (Facebook, Twittter and G+) for example #BedAndBreakfast
  7. Start to mix up where you post your best pictures keeping in mind that G+ is more visual.
  8. Add your G+ link to your Adwords campaign.  Once logged in select campaigns, click on campaign and then the tab Ad extensions.  From the View drop down select Social Extensions and then + Extension and add the URL from your G+ page.
  9. Google is serious about G+.  Google controls over 70% of web searches and when you post to G+ guests will see your most recent posts on the right side of the results page, letting them know updated information about your inn and area. Google also dominates email with more than 60% of email users having a Gmail address.  By having a verified G+ page, people who receive emails from your domain will have the option to follow your G+ page directly from your messages in Gmail.  Learn More…
  10. Share, like or comment on posts from other businesses such as restaurants that your guests like in the area.

Wrap Up
We do not see the Social Media Outlet side of G+ being a direct deliverer of guests or bookings anytime soon.  But we do know that the SERP Support side of G+ (Authority) works well when it’s installed properly.  So we encourage you to go ahead and get involved in the Social Side of G+, even if it is only with other Innkeepers and vendors at this time.  As Google continues down this path, Google users are going to find themselves searching for results that will be more and more personalized.  And then I encourage you to take into consideration some of Mary’s suggestions for getting your Guests involved with G+.  Facebook didn’t start over night, and G+ as a social media outlet isn’t going to either.

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