The hospitality industry has realized the value of social media marketing, and the majority of companies are active on Facebook or Twitter, or both. However, it appears that many have been more apprehensive or oblivious to getting involved with Google+. While Google+ has not been around as long as Twitter or Facebook, it can still provide tremendous value to businesses in the hospitality industry.

Google+ Business Pages 

Creating a Google+ business page has become essential for a variety of reasons. Although similar to a company Facebook page, Google+ pages offer some unique features not available on Facebook.

Smaller local businesses can take advantage of the cover photo to include a large Google map showing their location. The feature that differentiates Google+ business pages from company Facebook pages is the “Circles” feature. This feature makes it easy to separate different groups of people or pages on Google+ to conveniently and easily organize everything.

This can be especially useful in the hospitality industry where it can be helpful to engage with other local businesses for mutual benefit. A recent article on Maximize Social Business also addresses this trend for the hospitality industry.

If you’re a restaurant, you would also want to circle various local businesses, as well as other food sites, such as popular food magazines, TV shows, chefs, etc. From there you can +1 (the G+ equivalent of “liking” something on Facebook) their posts or leave comments on them.

This is beneficial for several reasons:

  • It shows support for other businesses. And if you scratch their back, when it comes time, they’ll scratch yours in return. If you come across information you find useful, acknowledge that to its provider. Everyone enjoys knowing they’ve helped out someone else.
  • It spreads the word about YOUR page. I’ll use Windmill Networking (WMN) as an example. Say you go and +1 WMN’s post. Just as with Facebook, visitors to WMNs page will now see your name on the post in which you +1ed or commented. You’ve just subtly, and inadvertently in a way, advertised yourself, and your presence on Google+.
  • It shows that you’re active; that you “get it”. There are many companies that set up pages and then simply stream autofeeds, robot posts or traditional, spammy information solely about their brand and nothing else. This is not social marketing. Actual social media marketing practices involve being social.”

By utilizing the circles feature you can keep everything organized and it makes it easy to keep up on what is happening in your niche.

Social Engagement

Through a Google+ business page, a company can share current deals or promotions as well as helpful information related to their particular niche. Producing and sharing interesting content on a business page will attract followers and help get the page into more people’s circles. This type of customer interaction is great way to attract new customers as well as build loyalty with existing customers.

The circles feature can be applied effectively here as well. By separating and segmenting customers into various circles, a business can decide which circles will see what content. This allows for targeted and powerful messages specifically tailored for a particular audience. This creates a level of personal interaction that simply isn’t achievable through Facebook or Twitter.

SEO Implications

The benefits of being on Google+ extend into the SEO realm as well. As Google moves towards integrating social sharing into their ranking algorithm, it is clear that businesses and websites must take social media into account in regard to SEO.

Being active and engaged on these social media platforms helps encourage this social sharing. It would be safe to assume that the social network created by Google itself would be a good place to start. This may become especially true as some are projecting that Google+ will overtake Facebook in social sharing by 2016.

Along with its integration into the ranking algorithm, social sharing has other SEO implications. Social sharing gives your content a farther reach – It syndicates your content into places where it would not be otherwise and this produces extra, bonus traffic and views for that content. Not only will this make your content more powerful, but the extra traffic will increase the strength of any links you have attached to the content, which will increase the effectiveness of any link building strategies you may be employing.

Although Google+ has not been around as long as more established social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it still provides incredible potential as a tool for large and small businesses marketing in the hospitality industry.

The opportunities for social engagement presented by Google+ business pages offer great value to companies in an industry that relies so heavily on customer perception.

This post was contributed by Paul Richardson. Paul is content marketing professional with years of experience in the industry. He particularly specializes in small business seo and small business marketing. When Paul is not providing insight on the importance of Google+ he enjoys getting some exercise by taking long rides on his bike.