Why Financial Professionals Should be on Google+
Let me begin by saying that I get incredibly frustrated (and sometimes feel like my head is going to explode) every time that I am told that there is a new social media platform that I need to be on. Don’t we have enough of them already! However, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you the story of why financial professionals need Google+.
And before you chastise me, yes, I also realize that many of you financial professionals finally mastered LinkedIn or Facebook recently, and the last thing that you need is another social media platform to become an expert on. But Google+ isn’t just some new “fad” social media outlet that may or may not be around this time next year…this is Google we are talking about. And when Google speaks, we should all be listening, especially since they control the two largest search engines in the country being Google and YouTube. (Just wait until you see the Google+ infographic below!)
To begin, I had the same feelings that most of you probably did (or are feeling right now reading this) when I first found out about Google+. In fact, I was quite ticked off my first day learning about Google+ as my discovery came as a result of an unwelcome “Welcome to Google+” surprise when I was forced to register to this new social media tool just to get a new YouTube page (they basically forced me to do it). So if you didn’t know already, since Google owns YouTube, they now only allow you access to a YouTube channel if you own and link it up to your Google+ account. This is also one of the main reasons that Google+ is breaking records with the amount of new users for a social media platform. Too put it in perspective, Google+ has over 500 million registered users while LinkedIN has approximately 300 million users (keep in mind LinkedIN has been around for almost a decade longer than Google+).
Of course, many critics say that the only reason Google+ has so many users is because they are basically forcing all of their gmail and YouTube users to get on Google+. And that is partially true…but don’t let that fool you or take away from the value that their social media platform provides.
I certainly made the mistake of dismissing Google+ for many months, and as I mentioned, the only reason I originally opened my Google+ account was to use YouTube. But today, just a few months later, I am really impressed with what they have built. And I am kicking myself a little bit for not taking advantage of it a little sooner! (you will see why when I describe the benefits below).
Here are a few things that I use (and get benefits and insight from) on a regular basis. These are also the same benefits that any financial professional should be making use of. Personal Note and Observation: I have seen a recent increase in financial advisors on there recently as well, and a few of them are taking advantage of these cool features as well:
Why Financial Advisors Need Google+:
- Google+ Communities – These are similar to “groups” on Facebook and anyone with a Google+ account can create any Community that they want! How cool is that! So let’s say you are a financial professional in Central Florida. You could create an entire Google Community called, “Central Florida Financial Education Organization” and start building a brand and online community around that. And when consumers in your area are doing their own exploring on Google+ for financial advice or financial education in central florida, who do you think they are most likely to stumble upon? You can join as many other communities as you want, get new ideas from them, post comments and drive some of their traffic back to you, and more.
- Google Pages – This is equivalent to having a Facebook Business page with some cool perks. Inside of “Pages”, Google+ let’s you seamlessly create as many “pages” as you want. So you can have one for your company, any special trademarks or specialities that you or your company have, etc. However, important not to overdo it and spread yourself too thin. My recommendation is to start with just one page (your business page) and maximize that first. Make sure you fill in everything from the address, website URL, phone number, link up “contributors” to your blog, put in captivating pictures, and throw in some links to your best content to make it look like you use it…and then start really using it and inviting people to add your company page into their Google+ circles.
- Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts are just like “Facetime” or “Skype” where you use your computer’s camera (and you can do this on your phone as well assuming you have the Google+ app installed), and you can have a face to face digital conversation with up to 10 people at a time. Great for having a meeting with clients who aren’t close by, or even to speak to your office or staff when you are remote. Google has made it incredibly easy to share documents via your hangout, share your screen, let others on the call share their screen, etc.
- Google Hangouts on Air – This is one of my favorite features on Google+ by far. Hopefully, many of you have seen some of my live Google Hangout events in the past. If not, do a search in YouTube for “Joe Simonds Google Hangout” and you will see quite a few. Let’s talk about what these “Hangouts on Air” have enabled us to do. Think of Hangouts on Air as a live GoToWebinar (I am certain that every financial professional is quite aware what GotoWebinars are) where you can have unlimited people watching, have it recorded automatically into YouTube, have guests, and have a heck of a fun time doing a live event where the viewers can watch you live from your webcam. Of course you can share your screen, share documents, and even play videos from YouTube all within these live events. However, I have been primarily using them as a one on one interview tool where I interview leading experts in the financial services industry that I believe can offer some value to you. However, financial professionals could be utilizing this awesome free tool by giving a “live” presentation on a subject, inviting as many friends and clients as possible, and then using that recording (keep in mind that YouTube automatically records the entire thing for you) to further educate, post the replay on your website, and use it as an evergreen branding tool online. Pretty Cool!
- Google Events – This tab inside of your Google+ profile is exclusively built for all of your events (both hosted by you and events that you will be attending). For example, if I create a live Google Hangout on Air to be played at a date in the future, it will show up in my events under the future event area. It will also show my past events as well. Furthermore, Google Events let’s you seamlessly add new events (other people’s Hangouts, webinars, etc) simply by clicking one button (“Yes, I will be attending button”). It will even automatically add it to your Google Calendar, send you a reminder, etc. And if your Google Calendar is synced up with you smartphone or Iphone, it will update it on your phone calendar as well (including any important info such as the link for the event, call in information, etc). Pretty slick!
- Google Local – MUST do for financial professionals! Google local is similar to Google Places or Facebook Places where you business info shows up in relevant local searches, on maps, etc. Let me give you an example of why this is such a powerful feature and why you would be crazy not to jump on this right now. When I personally go into my “Google Local” tab, it automatically knows exactly what part of Atlanta I am in based on my address (that I gave Google so people could find me), not to mention they can see my IP address as well. And when I check out my Google Local tab, it shows me all of the businesses in my area broken down by category. Everything from pizza joints to fitness facilities to bail bonds. Keep in mind that many of these categories only have 1 business in the area so far (as this feature is somewhat new where mostly early adapters are on here), so they completely OWN the entire industry. I also quickly noticed that there was not a SINGLE financial advisor or insurance agent in my entire area of Atlanta who had taken the time to create their Google Page and take it live on Google Local! So if you can be the first one, you will literally OWN the entire category (at least until the rest of the pack catches up with you). What a huge head start! Not to mention, because you are first to be listed, you will most likely get a leg up on the competition by being the first to get noticed, the first to get comments, the first to get reviews, the first to get traffic, etc. Once again, what a head start!
- Google Photos – Google photos is another one of the free features that makes the entire platform easier for you to get excited about. Because you must have a Google account to have Google+, they also assume that you have some form of camera phone that takes pictures. Well with a couple clicks of the mouse, you can sync your entire photo album from your phone with your Google+ account and have those pics stored for you on their cloud. And don’t worry, the pictures stay private to you only unless you decide to share them on your Google+ page. Within this cool feature, Google+ can also add really neat things to your pictures such as moving rain drops (if it is raining), snow flurries, etc. Basically turns your picture into an animated .gif file.
In conclusion, I hope you can see why financial professionals need Google+ in their digital arsenal. Although I personally hate to invite another social media platform into my life right now, I feel that it is too hard to ignore what Google+ is bringing to the table in terms of how it can impact your business. If this platform was only a bunch of consumers sharing photos or commenting on inspiring quotes, I would dismiss it faster than Tweets come through Oprah’s Twitter page. But it isn’t, and I think it would be a big mistake to dismiss Google+. Not to mention, Google+ has some HUGE visions and they don’t plan on just making this platform something that you must have to use YouTube. They will certainly find a way to get more people to use it, and don’t be surprised if they somehow find a way to make this the “go to” hub for many of the popular social media platforms. They have enough power, influence, followers, users, and money to make it happen…
And even if you don’t believe me, you can’t debate the fact that over 500 Million people already have accounts and a large portion of those people (like me) are actually on Google+ and using it each week. Likewise, Google is rewarding their Google+ users (whether they admit it or not) by pushing up “Hangouts on Air” into the YouTube search, making sure that the business listings in Google Local are being found, and probably giving slightly more favor to blogs and articles that are getting “+’d” within their secret search algorithms.
So if you are a financial advisor, you would be crazy to not register a free account, create a business Page, fill it out completely (probably takes 20 minutes to do it the correct way), get listed on Google Local, and see what happens. What do you have to lose besides free traffic and exposure? I know that the first financial professionals in my area of Atlanta will get some incredibly free advertising by being the ONLY person or agency listed in all of Google+ in a pretty large area.
Finally, check out this awesome Google+ Infographic that my main man Neil Patel from QuickSprout was nice enough to share with us. I would like to point out (before you do) that the high number of people between 18-25 on Google+ might disappoint you, but did you know that almost ALL of the social media outlets have similar percentage demographics (Including LinkedIn and Facebook). In fact, 45% of LinkedIn users are under age 34, and LinkedIn has almost 50% less users that Google+! Yet almost all financial professionals use LinkedIn religiously. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a social media outlet that is only for baby boomers. I hope this is the “nail in the coffin” to convince financial professionals need Google+ within your practice. Enjoy! And big thanks to you Neil!
P.S. – Please SHARE this blog and awesome Google+ Infographic by using the Social Media share buttons at the bottom and the top of this blog. Thank you as always!