Guest post by Ivan Serrano

It’s three in the afternoon. You’re feeling a bit drowsy and bored, so you log on to Facebook  and peer into the lives of your friends. Maybe you follow a link to Instagram and look at pictures  posted from someone’s recent holiday, or maybe you sign on to your Linkedin account to see if  anyone is advertising your dream job.

This is how many people consume their social media, but that may be changing. One of the game changers is Google Plus, formerly Google’s second-hand version of Facebook. Google  is now using Plus to incorporate social signals into their search results, meaning that you can simultaneously improve your content’s visibility and its search engine optimization. Plus is also rapidly gaining users. It has recently seen a growth rate of about 39% per year and  many of its users are industry influencers. Plus is dynamic and is already being integrated with Google’s vast email and cloud computing infrastructure which makes it easy and convenient to use.

Interested in ramping up your presence on Plus? Check out the infographic below which  provides recent user statistics and information on how Plus works. There are also tips on how  to gain influential followers, what types of content to publish and how to increase the visibility of  that content.

 

Benefits of Google Plus Infographic

 Ivan Serrano is an infographic specialist from the Golden State. He enjoys writing about social media and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @ivanserrano55.

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Beautiful, colorful, delicious looking tomato salad.The other day on Twitter, I came across a story about restaurants banning photo taking. My first thought was, that this was short-sighted, especially in a business like food service where word of mouth can make or break you.

The writer suggested that taking a moment to snap a photo and share it which literally takes seconds with today’s tools would leave the food cold and chef grumpy. I’m not sure why that would be the case so long as they put the phone away and start eating and don’t sit there and text and share other things for 10 minutes afterward.

As for the Chef being grumpy, why ever for? If people are sharing pictures of his food and telling their friends where they are eating, this isn’t a reason for consternation –quite the opposite. The chef as a small business owner should be thrilled people are talking about his restaurant in a positive way on the social internet.

If I owned a restaurant, I would put up sign that said my business welcomes pictures and feel free to share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or wherever you like. I would leave instructions on how to access my accounts and I would encourage patrons to friend and follow us.

Now, I understand people don’t like a table full of people staring at their phones the entire meal, and I’ve seen this, but quickly sharing your picture? I don’t see a big deal and from a business perspective, this is pure gold.

Whatever your small or medium size business may be, a restaurant, a real estate brokerage, a law firm or a mobile app design shop; you want people talking about you on social networks and if they are doing it spontaneously just seeing your products, all the better.

Social media mentions are like free advertising. How have we always chosen the companies we do business with? We have asked friends. In the days before the social internet, we might have picked up the phone or asked at parties or wherever we happened to get together.

When our friends mention these businesses on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and other places, it is the equivalent of giving a tacit recommendation to their friends. I’m eating at this restaurant and I love it so much, I’m taking a picture of my delicious meal and I’m sharing it with you. Don’t you wish you were here too?

I can understand some of the social media and smartphone backlash, but as a business owner you really don’t want to get into the business of policing your customers and dictating what they can’t and can’t do with their devices unless it’s creating a serious distraction for some reason like talking loudly on the phone and disturbing other customers.

Short of that though, you should absolutely embrace social media because you couldn’t ask for better publicity without paying a penny. Your customers become your brand ambassadors and that should be the goal of every SMB.

Photo Credit: “Breville Fave Food Shot” by Breville USA. Used under CC 2.0 Attrbution license.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Pug dog in spotlight.We find ourselves in the middle of the Olympics this week, an event that cost at least $50 billion to put on, which puts the showcase country on the world stage. When you have that kind of attention and have spent that kind of money, you want to put your best foot forward, especially with the press.

That’s why it’s so baffling that the organizers treated the press and other early arrivers so badly, putting them up in half finished hotels with bizarre plumbing, screwed up reservations, missing floors in the lobby, broken elevators and even reports of workers actually sleeping in a guest’s beds.

And the press gleefully tweeted their experiences to the world, leaving the Russians, who were hosting the event looking like hapless amateurs.

When you put on an event with influencers at the ready, you need to be sure everything is tip-top. You want to impress because if you mess up, social media and smartphones put your mistakes out in the world in a quick minute. And instead of being your bright and shining moment, you could be left looking foolish.

Conversely if you delight your audience of influencers you will be rewarded because people will see how you shine, how organized you are and what a class organization you run. Social media is a double-edged sword and with a smartphone equipped with a camera and social media apps in every pocket or purse, you are always on display these days, even when your audience might not be the world press.

Every midsize business needs to understand that they are on stage in the white-hot spotlight 24/7 and every mistake and every glory can be magnified –and you have to be ready.

Should you find yourself in a situation like Sochi where it looks really bad, you can at least step in and do some damage control, whether that’s simply fessing up that you weren’t ready, apologizing and offering ways to make it up to customers who were put out –or refuting it if it isn’t true.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with the individual situation, you should have emergency plans in place and you have to realize the power of social media to lift you up and bring you down –while understanding that it can happen very quickly. Who knows what happened in Sochi, but when the press arrived and those tweets started to flow, the damage had already been inflicted. They had blown their moment to impress the world.

Every business, whether you’re Olympic organizers or a real estate office needs to put their best social media foot forward because people are paying attention and if you have the world’s press on your doorstep, it’s even more important that you monitor social media channels and be proactive.

But it’s important to understand that you don’t need to be on the world stage at the Olympics  because social media puts every business in the public eye and if you’re smart, you’re going to be ready.

Photo Credit:  mrgreen09 on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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