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How Google+ Changes Everything

An interview with bestselling author Chris Brogan

Google+, formally called the Google+ project, continues to attract interest all out of proportion to its current user base (30 million to 50 million, according to the latest estimates). In our first article about Google+, we provided some general information about the new social networking site, with the aim of helping sellers decide whether it was worth their effort right now.

While we discussed its hottest features (Circles, Hangouts and Sparks), and relayed some early impressions of the site from a few eBay sellers, we were not able to say much about its use for business purposes. There simply wasn’t much to say at that time. Even so, we concluded that Google+ couldn’t be ignored—not with Google behind it.

If you’re still on the fence about Google+, you probably will be ready to pick a side after reading this interview with Chris Brogan, The New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. His blog is in the top five of the Advertising Age Power150. With a new book coming out on Google+, and a commanding presence already on the site, he’s one of the few true experts on the subject. Here he shares his expertise with our readers.

Are there fast results? No. Have fast results ever amounted to great business value in the longer term? Never.

Schepp: Chris, the title of your forthcoming book is Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything. Briefly, how does Google+ change everything?

Brogan: Search is the easiest answer. Google owns the No. 1 and No. 2 biggest search engines in the world [Google and YouTube], so Google+ is indexed by Google, meaning that any public content you share there gives you search ranking potential for this platform. It’s the opposite of Facebook, which isn’t indexed by Google at all.

Schepp: The Amazon listing for your book says Google+ offers “powerful business features.” What does Google+ offer those with e-commerce businesses that sites like Facebook and LinkedIn don’t?

Brogan: It’s not that Google+ offers something that Facebook and LinkedIn don’t as much as it offers a better ease of use, a simpler method to manage sharing and grouping, and a wealth of features from [Google’s] other products that are slowly being integrated in, such as maps and directions to businesses, video hangouts, simple YouTube integration, etc.

Schepp: What are the most effective ways for small businesses to use Google+ now, or to get results fast?

Brogan: Small businesses can put their employees on Google+ and have them start learning the ins and outs of good content creation, sharing and commenting. With a well-written About page on their profile, these employees can entice people into conversations that will be useful to those people who might be interested in their products and services. As its early days, the ideal thing for business owners to do is to learn the lay of the land. Are there fast results? No. Have fast results ever amounted to great business value in the longer term? Never.

Schepp: How can businesses best interact with customers on Google+? Should they post links to their eBay listings?

Brogan: Businesses should talk to customers and prospects about their interests and needs, and they should create interesting information that guides those prospects to learn more. Jennifer Cisney from Kodak shares interesting photo projects that she sees but almost never points out that you should buy Kodak products to do the work. You simply feel the allegiance based on knowing what she shares, and you think more positively about the brand. You can certainly place links to your specific business products and the like, but without some context, it’s a cold sell and would work just as poorly as it does in other contexts.

Schepp: What are some suggestions for creating posts that will appeal to your customers?

The more you humanize the relationship between your buyer and your company, the more people will feel they should buy from you

Brogan: If your customers have needs that your product serves, what other needs do they have that aren’t as directly related? If you sell kayaks, do the kinds of people who use kayaks also want to hear about how to better pack a small backpack? Of course they do. Share complementary materials, and then share some interesting how-to [information] about your kayaks. Share behind-the-scenes on the creation of your products. Share interviews in video with the people who make your products. The more you can do to humanize the relationship between your buyer and your company, the more that people will feel they should buy from someone like you.

Schepp: Do you have any examples you can share of small businesses that you feel are using Google+ effectively?

Brogan: I’ve seen restaurants share photos from events at their places and then solicit comments that end up being questions about how having a similar event could benefit them. I’ve seen a building contractor share the making of a backyard patio over the summer, including grape arbors and a hot tub, and how that project would be constructed for other people. The “show, don’t tell” method seems alive and well within Google+.

Schepp: Why do you think it’s important for eBay sellers to buy your upcoming book?

Brogan: eBay sellers can learn about the nuances of this social network that will let them better understand how to sell by building relationships first. It’s interesting if they want to make the effort to go beyond a transactional sale, and if they prefer repeat buyers to one-shot sales.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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