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Google Plus.  It seems to be one of the most exciting and mysterious social networks on the Web today.  Many people joined in last summer when Google Plus was released.  But many also abandoned their accounts just as quickly.  Some, like Forbes.com, proclaimed it to be a ghost town just six weeks after the launch of the network.  Yet Google has continued to refine and develop the platform and is making it a factor in the world of search.  As a result, it is almost impossible for businesses to ignore Google Plus today and those that do so are potentially missing out in a big way.  Using Google Plus for business marketing can push your efforts to new heights. The purpose of today’s post is to provide three simple tips to make Google Plus more useful for businesses.

Your Business’s Google Plus Page
You do have a Google Plus page for your business, don’t you?  If not, setting one up is very easy.  In fact, I would contend that it is even easier than setting up a Facebook fan page.  With that said, if you need some guidance on setting up a Google Plus page, check out this great resource to get started.  Once you have your page created, you’ll be ready to put the three tips below to work for your business!

Tip #1: Make generous use of photos within your page
One of the best things about social networks is that you can use photos (and video) to express your thoughts, perspectives and interests.  And Google Plus makes sharing photos via your page easy.  But the best thing about sharing photos is that it gives your business a chance to engage your audience.  Do you sell products online?  Post photos of the products and ask people to share their favorite uses of your products.  Do you participate in roadshows?  Share photos from your team’s travels as you get out and meet with your audience and see the country (or the world!).  Have a fun office environment?  Share photos of the office, your employees and the fun things your company does.  When you share the photos, ask your audience to comment and share the post.  This activity will increase the exposure for your business and likely encourage others to add your page to their circles.

Tip #2: Follow and engage relevant people in your industry/market
Speaking of circles (circles = followers), another easy way you can increase your exposure is to find others within Google Plus, follow them by adding them to your “following” circle and engage with them on their posts.  Finding pages/accounts to follow is as simple a conducting a search for keywords/topics in your industry via the search bar at the top of the page.  When you find pages/accounts that look interesting simply add them to your “following” circle.  And when those pages/accounts post to their account, be sure to leave a comment or, at a minimum click on the “plus one” button (equivalent to a Facebook “like”) to let them know that you found the post interesting.  Bonus tip: clicking on the “plus one” button also has the crossover benefit of showing up in search results, thereby further increasing the exposure for your business!

Tip #3: Add hashtags to make your posts discoverable
When you post to your Google Plus page, your followers will see the post show up within their main newsfeed.  But there’s a simple thing you can do to increase your exposure to others in the Google Plus network: add a hashtag to your post.  A hashtag is a keyword that includes the “#” sign in front of the word.  When you add a hashtag, the word becomes clickable and also makes your post discoverable in Google Plus searches.  This is a great way to get your posts and your business into relevant conversations with others on Google Plus.

Is Google Plus the dominant social network on the Web today?  No, and no one can say for certain whether it will or will not be.  But, by developing a solid presence for your business within Google Plus, you’ll give your company a better chance to compete within the search engines and the social landscape!