Don't feel like you have to go back and read all those posts. Because I'm going to sum it up for you (and Teel) right now. Feel free to pass this post along to your publisher. If they need help implementing, I'm available.
Finish before you start
Don't start sharing content -- and certainly don't start telling people -- until you've filled out all the options for your new Google+ page. That means everything. Not just the name of your publishing company and a hastily thrown together logo. A complete profile, please. Which consists of...
- Name of your page - Same as the name of your publishing business. Unless you've got a cutesy or boring name. Search results for Google+ pages only trigger when the keyword searched is in the page name. I added "audio books" to Podiobooks.com's page for that reason.
- Tagline - Google asks you to enter "the 10 words that describe your page best". I'll change that to say simply write a good sentence that describes your publishing company. Don't get too wordy, as anything after ~80 characters will be truncated. And that doesn't look very good.
- Profile photo - It needs to tie-in with what's coming up next, so put down the Paint program and get your graphic designer involved.
- 5 photos uploaded to your "scrapbook"- Order is important, as is how they look when you are done. I love the treatment Innova Disc Golf did on their Google+ page. Pick (or create) iconic imagery about your publishing company. Not just the last five books you published. Not even if they look good. They need to look good together, and they need to paint a picture (literally) that represents your brand.
- Videos - Don't have any? Then uncheck the box that says "Show this tab on your profile" to make it go away. Then seriously think about adding videos. You'll see why in a moment.
- A nice sounding (and looking) introduction - Don't copy-paste your mission, value statement, or company history into this section of your About tab. Tell people about your company and what you are doing with Google+. Not sure about that last part? Then you didn't think about your strategy before you jumped in, did you?
- Contact info - At a minimum, include a contact email. Preferably one that will be answered but isn't someone's personal email account. If you don't have a "contact" email sent to more than one person at your publishing company, you're a few years behind.
- Main website - Er... your main website.
- Custom links - If your brand is active in other social properties (Twitter, Facebook, etc.,) link them here. It's also a good idea to link to the Google+ profiles of the people who'll be manning (personing?) the Google+ page on behalf of the company. Personal touches mean a lot!
- At least three good posts published to your Stream - No one wants to circle an empty page without any idea of what the page may share. And I'd prefer it if the first post you make was not "Hey, we're on Google+!" or "What would you like us to share on Google+?" Those are throw-away posts. Instead, bring some flavor of the kinds of content and information you'll be sharing. If you aren't sure, call me.
- Connected you website - No, that's not the same thing as just listing your website on your About page. Go back to your main Google+ page by clicking the Google+ logo. Below your profile image, you'll see a "Get started" link. Click it, then follow the "Get the badge" link for options on adding a small snippet of code to your website. This is a crucial step, but you won't see any benefit from it immediately. But soon, Google will be unleashing more options to page owners. Those that do this will be in the lead. You want to lead, don't you?
Once you've done all those things -- no skipping steps! -- you're ready to announce your page to the world about your kick-butt Google+ page!
Google+ pages cannot circle a person who has not circled the page first. That may sound wonky at first, but it makes sense. You don't want the IRS following you first, do you?
So how do you get people to add you to their circles? You ask! No, your page can't ask, but your profile certainly can. And if you do it right, you can get other profiles to spread the word for you.
Start by telling your employees, authors, vendors and partners about your new page. If you already have them in circles on your personal Google+ profile, share your new page with them. But you'll get the most bang for your buck by drumming up people off Google+. Send out an email. Include a quick writeup in your next newsletter. Tell every vendor and partner you talk to on the phone for the next week. If you want to grow your network, start getting people involved.
Google+ Hangouts are another great way to attract more people to your circle. Currently, pages are subject to the same limitations (10 people max) of profiles, but that should be changing... soon? But that shouldn't stop you from trying. Publishers should create Hangouts of interest to both readers and authors. After all, you really need to attract both types of people to be successful, right? Sponsor author readings. Hold a writing workshop. Make a launch party a Hangout. There are lots of ways you can go.
Searching for people already talking about your brand, your authors or the books you publish is a great idea, too. Google+ makes it simple to save a search for repeat use. When you find someone mentioning you, your authors or your books, join the conversation. You may not be able to circle them, but you certainly can post a comment and +1 the things they have to say! And yes, it's OK to ask the person to circle your brand's page!
Sustaining success comes from sharing amazing content
Here's the hard truth: most people don't need one more social network to keep up with. So if you're going to make Google+ work for your publishing company, you have to be willing to create the kind of kick ass content that makes it worth their while.
The trouble is this: I can't tell you what amazing content is for your brand. Not without going through an exhaustive strategy session with you. But you should know what's amazing about your company. Figure that out. And share it.
Google has told us that the posts that feature rich content -- videos & images -- perform the best. That's nothing surprising. Again, look at the posts that Innova is creating. Even if you aren't into disc golf (few of us are), you have to admit that the content is compelling. That is what you need to do. Be compelling!
When you do, consider segregating your sharing. Think of it in three ways:
- Things my brand only wants to share with authors
- Things my brand only wants to share with readers
- Things my brand wants to share with everybody
That should drive the circles you create and add people to. Unsure if someone who has circled your brand is a reader or an author? Ask! I'd check internally to see if they are an author first, though. That question can be a little embarrassing for you both. For advanced circling, consider breaking your reader circles down by genre preference. Again, you have to ask to figure out where someone belongs.
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: at least 80% of the posts to your stream should go to the Public. Most of what you do should be shared with everyone. Your particular needs may overturn that rule, but that will be uncommon for most. Google+ isn't a replacement for other communication channels. It's augmentation. And a mostly public one.
Things to think about
Google+ pages for businesses is still growing. They've gotten lots of great feedback on the things they need to release. Quickly. Here's what I think you'll see in the coming days/weeks:
- Multiple admins - This was a huge miss at launch. I think it's keeping some businesses away. Which means a better chance for those who adopt it early to shine. I'll be surprised if they don't announce a fix by the end of the week.
- Pushing of activity notifications - It stinks to have to log into your Google+ and click the "Notifications" link to see how people are interacting with your posts. It think that's coming very soon, as they are already integrating with some third-party tool providers. The end of November is likely. But I could be wrong.
- (Practically) Unlimited circle sizes - Currently there is a 5,000 limit on any circle. I doubt you'll exceed this anytime real soon, but at the rate Google+ is growing, it will happen. Expect it quickly.
- Extended view-only people in Hangouts - The 10-person (including you) limit stinks. I think this is weeks away, not days. Dang it!
So there you go, publishers! My thoughts on how you can use Google+ effectively for your publishing business. All that hinting I made about consulting? I wasn't kidding. Jeff and I have been doing professional social media consulting for a few years now. If you'd like us to come speak to your staff or help you plan an effective digital strategy, we'd love to talk. We're not cheap, but we're damned good at what we do.
I'm going to go play with my new Kindle fire now.