Though most of the tech media is in love with Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent Pinterest, Google+ has proven itself to be a rising social media star as of late. Compared to its rivals, however, Google+ is a different kind of network. In particular, Google+ Local allows businesses to network and market their services at the same time. For legal professionals, the possibilities for promotion are quite simply endless. With 280 million current active users and climbing, its potential to reach clients is immense. Any lawyer or law firm can use it to ramp up business with the right approach.
WHAT GOOGLE+ LOCAL IS AND ISN’T
Before embarking on a promotional campaign, it’s important to understand the nature of Google’s flagship social network. It’s not Facebook, though it was never really designed to be. Google+ is more about the seamless merger of social and search across Google’s many platforms like YouTube, Google +1, Picasa and all the rest. Unlike Facebook, it allows you to rigidly segregate your personal and professional worlds via Circles. Basically, it’s the linchpin of an entire ecosystem that aims to make e-commerce and marketing more effective without nosing too far into the privacy of its users.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION
The most essential step in the process of using Google+ Local to increase business is the initial setup phase. Remember that much of what Google does boils down to indexing content, so don’t forget to include your website URL, links to Twitter and Facebook profiles, phone numbers and the like. One of the most concise yet thorough guides available is the Google Plus Your Business Starter Guide. Though social media is a greater part of the equation than ever before, keyword optimization is still important. Include as many descriptive major keywords as possible in your About section. Note that a Gmail account is required to get started.
FIRST STEPS: OUTREACH & NETWORKING
Once you’re all set up, it’s time to start creating digital communities and interacting with them. Google+ makes this pretty easy by default. All of your contacts or “Friends” can be grouped into Circles, which allow you to categorize your business relationships as you see fit. Whether you’re using Google+ Communities or Hangouts to build relationships, you’ll find that the platform lends itself to stress-free networking on any level. To augment this virtual elbow-rubbing, include Google +1 buttons and links to your profile on any blogs, websites or YouTube accounts that you administer.
CLIENT INTERACTION AND CONTENT MARKETING
Aside from increasing visibility online, the best feature of Google+ is its ability to allow businesses to interact with consumers. Anyone that’s patronized your services can leave a review, much as they would for a coffee shop on Yelp. Responding to client reviews is of paramount importance. You can easily stop negative reviews in their tracks by addressing them directly, thereby demonstrating your attention to client concerns. If you don’t have any user-generated online reviews, potential clients can’t gauge your effectiveness. Therefore, it’s worth your while to get as many as possible and respond to them.
Beyond image management, it’s incumbent on any lawyer using Google+ Local to become a source of original content or at least curated content for your followers. By doing so, you establish yourself as an authority and make your Google+ Local account a destination that will help to increase your organic search rankings. Google+ content has a better chance of ranking highly in the search results than Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. With over 3 billion searches being conducted a day through Google, it’s tough to underestimate the impact that a popular Google+ Local page can have. When paired with the potential of social media, content marketing on Google+ can be very effective as far as attracting clients goes.
GETTING PROACTIVE WITH GOOGLE+ LOCAL
There’s no better time than the present to get started with Google+. As more and more legal firms and attorneys hop aboard the bandwagon, you’ll find it harder to quickly climb the charts. Savvy attorneys realize that their profession isn’t immune to the increased competition wrought by the evolution of e-commerce and social media. To get the most out of both, you’ll need to invest some time every day in developing a deep Google+ Local presence. More and more, local offline viability depends greatly on local online success on Google+.