Google is focusing on building the largest social network, with Google+ quickly becoming an important marketing tool for hoteliers, considering that it is expected to surpass Facebook by 2016 as the No. 1 social media outlet. Today there are more than 1.5 billion registered Google+ accounts and 359 million monthly active users as of January 2014. With this forum growing at 33 percent each year according to Google, and continuing to outpace Twitter by more than 140 million monthly users (G+ 359 million / Twitter 215 million), hotel marketers must get on board with Google+ if they want to remain competitive.
Google+ Business Pages are socially enabled and allow members (“hotels”) to organize people (“guests”) into social groups referred to as “Circles.” Then, hoteliers engage with their own circles of potential guests and build larger circles through social networking and marketing. Google+ 1’s (“likes”) act as social signals within the Google Search Engine, which ultimately effect organic listings within its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As the Google+ network continues to grow, the weight applied to +1’s will receive more consideration, and the hotels with the most +1’s will reinforce their search engine rankings.
“Social networking continues to be the least expensive way for hotels to market their brand, engage guests and build loyalty,” said D.J. Vallauri, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle Founder and President. “Taking advantage ofall social media channels is critical. Unfortunately, only a few hotel companies are expanding their inner circles outside of Facebook to include Google+. Failure to do so can be detrimental in the long term.
“Having a Google+ presence is just the first step,” Vallauri said. “It’s also critical for the hotel to engage on its Google+ page. This aids in strengthening a hotel’s overall sales funnel. When engagement of +1, sharing and commenting begins to increase, a hotel’s Google+ page will become a powerful vehicle in search. Posts that have been +1’d will be indexed more quickly on Google, increasing the hotel’s organic presence. “
Did you know?
- Google+ shares (aka +1s) are growing by 19 percent per month, while people who use Facebook are sharing only 10 percent each month. (Searchmetrics)
- Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion dollars (and YouTube was just a year old.)
- Integration between Google+ and YouTube is enabling users to post comments on YouTube about a video and have those comments displayed and viewed across all G+ social groups or “circles” to give the video even greater exposure.
“The Google/YouTube partnership not only aids search functionality, but hoteliers that link their YouTube channel to their Google Analytics account will obtain additional data about video effectiveness,” Vallauri said. “If the content isn’t working, or the keywords aren’t attracting the right eyeballs, marketers can then make adjustments accordingly.”
In a recent article titled: “Dear Marketers: Ignore Google+ At Your Own Risk,” author Alexandra Jacopetti offers the following five reasons why marketers should incorporate Google+ into their social media efforts:
- Instant Indexing and SEO. Much like Facebook, Google+ has already introduced hashtags that allow users to conduct custom searches via specific keywords. Unlike Facebook, Google+ has the power of the world’s largest search engine behind it. Google Search users in the United States and Canada are now able to search hashtags, which pop up as a list of related Google+ posts on the right side of the page. The SEO importance of this feature is undeniable – companies that incorporate hashtags into Google+ posts that match user keyword search results can experience a significant upswing in link clicks and website traffic.
- Hangout with Your Audience. Google+ Hangouts is a free app that allows users to video chat with up to 10 people at once. Hangouts can be private, only visible to the people invited, or on air, which are publicly viewable and simultaneously recorded to your YouTube channel. Other Google+ Hangouts features include photo and document sharing, emoji, and video effects.
- Content Authorship. Businesses and individuals who have a Google+ profile are able to claim authorship over their Internet content, and it’s going to play a big role in future content marketing strategies. Authorship allows writers to link the content they create to their Google+ profile, and also provides Internet users with the opportunity to find additional content from the same author. Content linked via Google+ Authorship establishes credibility, increases content reach, and improves search engine rankings – all resulting in greater exposure.
- Say What You Need to Say. Let’s face it – it’s hard to communicate effectively in 140 characters or less. Not everyone is a wordsmith who can fling out witticisms on the spot that capture attention and deliver the perfect message every time. Google+ posts have no character limit, which allows businesses to engage their audience in normal and personal conversations that are uninhibited by arbitrary restraints.
- Google+ Caters to the Business Community. Google+ has branded itself as THE social network community for making connections and collaborations within the professional community, particularly in the business and technology spheres. Whether you’re a B2B company or a consumer-oriented brand, Google+ is the place to reach a professional audience that tends to shy away from Facebook and Twitter.
Did you know?
- Google+ members who have interacted socially with any of Google’s services in the past 30 days total 540 million, up from 390 million in May 2013 (Google).
- Monthly, 29% of Generation Z, 28% of Gen Y, 23% of Gen X, 19% of younger Boomers, 16% of older Boomers and 15% of the Golden Generation are visiting Google+ (Forrester)
- Google is also uploading 1.5 billion photos per week, and that number is increasing at an amazing rate (Google)
“At Lodging Interactive, we understand how difficult it can be for hoteliers to keep up with the rapidly growing social media scene,” Vallauri said. “Adding another channel to a hotel marketer’s ‘to do’ list can be a daunting task. To help alleviate stress and streamline the channel management process, Lodging Interactive will create the Google+ Business Page on the hotel’s behalf, and then our CoMMingle social media marketing agency will engage with guests and monitor the page to ensure that its content will be picked up on travel related searches.”