Last week Mary wrote about why your charity really should get on board with Google +.
I’m following up with a practical guide to setting up your page and getting started - an initial walk-through of the setup process and loads of tips on content creation, setting up Google Authorship for your bloggers, sharing with circles, checking notifications, getting a custom URL and creating badges to promote your page and gain followers from elsewhere on the web.
1) Login to your personal Google+ Profile and set up a new page.
When logged in, visit plus.google.com/pages/create to create a new page. Make sure to select the “Company, Institution or Organisation” category on the left and make the page visible to any Google+ user in the dropdown menu.
Populate your page with the necessary information, including your tagline, avatar, introduction, and photos. Choose a cover photo that tells your story and encourages people to look further down. Download our free templates for Google + here.
Remember to choose your keywords carefully, as targeting specific search terms can improve your page ranking. See Mary’s recent post for more information about this and why it matters.
2) Tailor your content
Although it’s tempting to see Google + as just another sharing platform it’s important to design a content strategy driven by the platform’s specific capabilities and potential.
Firstly, make sure every post on your blog is shared multiple times on Google + and in different communities, in order to encourage maximum interaction. This will impact your Google page ranking.
Secondly, think about hosting exclusive hangouts. You could reward the commitment of donors or volunteers by hosting events, discussions or speeches.
Also, remember that Google + loves large images and longer, more in-depth content than other platforms, so now is your chance to share those long stories that don’t work quite so well on Facebook, along with the incredible high-res photos that you can’t bring yourself to shrink down to share on Twitter.
3) Set up Google Authorship for the bloggers on your team
Google Authorship creates a link between your content and your Google + profile, building credibility with the searcher, with Google, and increasing the visibility of your personal profile. It also makes your content stand out amongst other links.
It’s fine to link to Google + accounts linked to personal email addresses rather than work addresses, but make sure they are linked correctly.
4) Experiment with circles
Circles are a great way to tailor who sees the content you share and makes the sharing process much more predictable than other social networks. Furthermore, posts are displayed in a simple linear way according to the time posted, in contrast to Facebook who use algorithms to select which posts are visible on your followers’ news feeds.
Through setting up circles for groups of people such as volunteers, trustees, donors and beneficiaries, you can share information directly with them and create a sense of community.
5) Look out for notifications
Whether using Google Drive, checking your emails or searching on Google, a handy red notification will appear at the top of right of the screen alerting you to activity on your Google + page.
6) Get a Custom URL
When you join Google Plus your URL is a long number. eg. 467508385856. However, once your profile is over 30 days old and you have more than 10 followers and a profile photo, Google will offer you a Custom URL, generally your charity’s name. These legislations make sure premium user names are taken by people actually using the service.
Once you have a custom URL you can setup Google+ Direct connect so people can jump straight to your Google + page from a search . Also, you can claim your Google+ name for your YouTube channel - Mark Traphagen wrote a great post on this.
7) Create badges
To encourage people to add or follow your new Google plus page, design some badges. These are really easy to do, just log into google and go to: https://developers.google.com/+/web/badge/.
You will be able to choose your charity G+ page from the dropdown or by entering in the URL. You can tinker with the settings until you get the style of badge you want, then just copy and paste the code to encourage people to follow from other places around the web.
Extra help and Resources
Google have a great resource centre specifically for help with Google +, which contains an absolute wealth of video how to's, explanations and content.
All the best with your Google plus charity page - once you are set up, add a link to the comments below or give me a shout on G+ so I can follow you and share your content :)