What is Google Plus?

Google+Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype – and it combines elements of all of these leading platforms.

“The goal of Google+ is to make all Google services better, including ads,” says Bradley Horowitz, vice president of Google+ products. “However, Google is not just focusing on building the largest social network. It is also an important tool that helps the company identify and authenticate users across all its services, including search, Gmail and YouTube.”

Google is serious about Google+ because when it comes to advertising and search Google is the daddy. It’s unlikely to go away.

Google+ is not the largest of the social media giants. Facebook has a billion active users a month, Google+ 540 million and Twitter 230 million. However, what’s important is whether social media and Google+ in particular can be used to engage existing and prospective clients in a new way that’s profitable, measurable and provides long-term value for the law firm that invests some of its resources in social media.

Should you get involved with Google+ now? Law firms are often inclined to wait and see. There’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t really need any social networks at all … as long as you’re marketing to your existing list of clients, retaining them, upselling and getting referrals or leads offline in a systematic and profitable way. If you are doing that, keep quiet about it as you’re on to a winner.

How Google is getting to know you

Google+ is a “social layer” or “wraparound” and pretty soon everyone that interacts with Google in any of its applications will find it impossible to avoid.

  • Got a Gmail account? You’ve automatically got a Google+ personal profile.
  • Post a comment on YouTube. That’s now on your Google+ personal posting page.
  • Upload a video on YouTube. That’s now on your Google+ personal page too.
  • One of your clients gives you a Google +1. That’s going to feature in front of people they know who are looking for a recommended law firm online.

Google wants to know everything about you so it can serve better advertising to you (also so they can make lots more money) and to do this it has to provide lots of tools in Google+ that you’ll want to use.

What Google+ offers in exchange

Firstly, Google+ will have a bearing on search engine results. Just as YouTube (owned by Google) videos appear on the first page of Google on a regular basis, so using Google+ in the right way is likely to help you get found online and get more conversions from searchers.

Secondly, Google+ makes it incredibly easy to get involved. If you are posting on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook or uploading YouTube videos or even doing an email newsletter, you can use Google+ to replicate and highlight what you are doing elsewhere, ie cut and paste your Tweet into Google Plus or link to your latest newsletter.

Get your clients to +1 you

If any of your existing clients have a YouTube or Gmail or Google Plus personal account, you can ask them to +1 your Google+ page or your website. That might seem like a small thing but getting positive reviews from them and getting referrals and retaining their business is easier when they have publicly acknowledged your expertise. This public praise will be visible to their circles of influence too. That becomes more and more valuable as Google+ engagement increases.

The power of Google+ communities

On Google+ you can let groups of people know what you are doing and demonstrate expertise, as with other social media channels – but better. That’s because you can have distinct “circles” that you can create and influence. This is more powerful than Facebook communities.

For example, if you are a general law firm you can create a circle for personnel managers for employment law, a circle for debt collection for finance directors and a circle for business law for managing directors and small business owners.

Alternatively, you can create a “community” which is similar to a LinkedIn group. Think of this as a supercharged virtual community where you can invite people to join, post videos, text, links and generally become the owner of something that may become a valuable asset.

Google+ is direct digital marketing

The thing about these “circles” is that as soon as you post something, your clients and circles get to see it. It’s not like email where only 15 per cent gets through. No-one has to open the post. No-one has to delete it. It’s just there. If you move quickly, it’s very likely you’ll be the first one to establish this for your local or niche market on Google+. LinkedIn groups have grown fast over the last 36 months and Google+ will do the same.

Google+ v LinkedIn

Like LinkedIn you can network and demonstrate expertise to your circles and you can join other circles that you might want to influence. However, you can’t demonstrate expertise with live video webinars on LinkedIn. You can with Google+. And you can schedule the webinar and invite people too, all with the click of a mouse. This is incredibly powerful. Imagine an employment law firm holding a Q&A webinar for 100 local personnel managers. The webinar gets automatically recorded and is automatically added to your YouTube channel. This again provides valuable content and SEO benefits.

Google+ v Twitter

There’s nothing that Twitter can do that Google+ can’t but Google+ can do a whole lot more. On Google+ you can choose to make postings private, viewable by certain circles or public. It’s totally controllable. And you aren’t limited to a certain length of message. And Twitter is unlikely to have the same level of Search Engine benefits.

Google+ also allows you to create, publicise and invite people to “events” held online or offline. Twitter doesn’t do that.

An example

Sarah Edmunds Legal has more than 400 followers after just a few weeks on Google+ – see her profile at https://plus.google.com/103585434949774839400/posts. Her firm has just been voted Lewes Business of the Year. And she’s on page one on Google for the search term “solicitor Lewes”. There are several reasons for her success but one of these is her use of Google+.

Sarah says “Google+ has been a revelation for us, generating lots of new clients and enquiries. Whereas Twitter and Facebook increasingly feel over-crowded, with Google Plus we’ve been able to find a way of communicating directly with clients and peers, which really should be the purpose of social media anyway.”

What to do

Whether you devote significant amounts of resources to using Google+ or just repost links from elsewhere probably depends on how you use it and whether you track the results.

As a minimum, an active Google+ account means you might get found for a variety of different things. These include posts you make on your account, videos you host on YouTube and comments you make on other people’s posts.

At the other end of the scale, you might use the webinar tools within Google+ and really go for it.

Here is a checklist that will help you dip your toe in the water.

1. Read up on the facilities available at www.google.com/+/learnmore/features.html and open an account at www.google.com/+/learnmore/.

2. Create your Business Account at www.google.com/+/business/.

3. Upload your cover and profile pictures.

4. Create the about section.

5. Create a circle or community, targeting different niches in your market.

6. Share your Welcome post on every one of the circles.

7. Get followers by adding people and following pages that are relevant.

8. Get followers by joining communities and following their members.

9. Get followers by commenting on relevant pages.

10. Post something of value in every circle – even if it’s “just” reusable content from your blog, web site or newsletter. Make it at least 400 words long and add the right hash tags to get it indexed by Google.

11. Check comments from your audience and share your opinion when you can.

12. Answer all of the questions they ask that are relevant; don’t leave them alone.

13. Ensure you let all your clients and prospects know about your Google+ page via all your media channels, eg website, email newsletter, emails.


Two years after its launch, Google+ is still a work in progress, but thousands of law firms are already using it. Many of them aren’t active but others are daily posters of information, links and comments. I hope this article has given you food for thought.

Boyd Butler has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. He has more than 300 law firms receiving his marketing advice and runs a small mastermind group of personal law firm clients. His legal marketing website is GreatLegalMarketing.co.uk. There is an introductory training course for Google+ on his website.

Email boyd@greatlegalmarketing.co.uk.


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