When Google announced late last year that its social networking platform Google+ would be ending, most day-to-day users of social media could be forgiven for reacting to the news with an indifferent shrug given that it never really took off as a proper social network.
For ordinary social media users, the platform simply didn’t offer anything new that other platforms like Facebook or Twitter do not already have, however marketers tended to view Google+ more favourably and saw the value in using it for SEO rankings, despite having a significantly smaller active audience than other platforms.
Posting to Google+ was a large factor in improving Google’s search engine rankings for websites due to its dominance as most internet users’ first choice of search engine, and due to Google’s announcement that not only would the platform be shut down in 2019, but that the end date would be brought forward to 2nd April, marketers may rightly be concerned about how to continue leveraging the internet giant to boost rankings via social media posts after Google+ shuts down.
Introducing Google My Business, a platform with which Google+ was heavily integrated, but which many industry observers long-suspected would replace it entirely. Launched in 2014, the platform is a free tool offered to businesses which helps them to manage their online information, including on Google Search and Google Maps, and verify their business to help customers find and interact with them online.
In addition to these features, it also enables users to post updates which can appear on Google Search for 7 days, although these are not currently supported via an in-house post-scheduling capability on Google, meaning that users have to publish posts manually on the desired date and time.
Although some of the larger third party social media scheduling platforms do not currently offer Google My Business as a supported platform, there are a number of smaller, less well-known scheduling platforms which appear to be ahead of the curve and can schedule posts in advance for the platform.
This article will outline Google’s current timescale for ending Google+, as well as the options available to marketers who wish to replace it with scheduled content on Google My Business.
What is the timescale for Google+ shutting down?
As mentioned previously, Google+ will close down entirely by 2nd April, however certain parts of it will be shut down in phases before that date. Google’s current schedule is as follows:
- • 4th February – users will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles or pages, and the ability to leave comments on blogs via Google+ will also be removed
- • 28th February – buttons for signing into Google+ on websites and apps will no longer work
- • 7th March – all Google+ APIs will be shut down by this date
- • 2nd April – Google+ accounts will be deleted, including any comments, photos, or pages created via your profile. Any photos backed up by Google Photos will remain.
Read more in Google’s announcement.
How can businesses make the most of Google My Business for publishing posts?
Publishing posts on Google My Business enables users to promote services, products, and other general information to their audience, much like other social media platforms, however, one unique advantage of posting on Google My Business is that the posts appear on Google Search and Google Maps, although only temporarily for 7 days.
As mentioned previously, currently the only way to post on the platform is by logging in and publishing posts at the desired date/time that users wish to publish them, since Google does not have an in-house scheduling capability, and the mainstream third-party scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social do not appear to support the platform at the time of writing.
However, a number of less well-known social media management platforms do appear to support scheduling posts for Google My Business, including the following:
- • OneUp – $3/mo for 10 social profiles + 1 user (more pricing information here) **
- • Publer – Free for 5 accounts, 10 pending scheduled posts + 1 user; or £10.82/mo ($14) for unlimited accounts, users, etc. (more pricing information here) *
- • Sendible – £85/mo for 48 services + 3 users (more pricing information here) *
- • Social Report – £76.55/mo ($99) for 50 profiles + 10 users (more pricing information here) *
* Information correct at time of writing on 1st February 2019
** Information correct at time of writing on 5th April 2019
As would be expected, with the demise of Google+ still currently in progress, widespread posting on Google My Business is still in relative infancy, however, it is important to note that there are already general rules of ‘posting etiquette’ that should be followed when publishing posts on platform. Publer, for example, has outlined some general guidelines for scheduling posts via their platform, which include the following:
- Only businesses that have less than 10 locations on Google My Business can post to the platform
- There is a maximum character limit of 1,500 characters for posts
- Publishing multiple photos per post is not currently supported (only one photo per post)
- Any videos that are posted must be shorter than 30 seconds, and the file size no larger than 100 MB
- Limits on the frequency of daily posting apply
What else can Google My Business offer businesses?
In addition to publishing posts, Google My Business offers many other useful features for businesses that help them to organise and optimise their presence online. These include:
- Verifying your business – people who search for your business online via Google will be able to see it appear on Google Search and Maps, and this will add validity to your business and improve your reputation
- Reviews from customers – users can respond to business reviews from customers via Google My Business. Reviews are another useful way of improving your business’ reputation, especially if they are positive, but even responding to negative reviews in a helpful and understanding way can have a positive impact on customers’ perception of you
- Adding key information – the platform enables you to display your premises’ opening hours under your business’ name in Google Search, as well as other key information such as office address and phone number
- Photos from the business – any photos that are posted on Google My Business will also appear on Google Search, and are another way of improving the visibility of your business to your audience
Read more in our blog on how to optimise your Google My Business site.
The void left by Google+ may initially present marketers with problems in terms of how to continue boosting their search rankings via social media posts with Google, however, it is clear that Google My Business has the potential to provide many of the same opportunities that Google+ offered and more.
While it may be true that some of the larger social media management platforms such as Hootsuite may not support Google My Business at the moment, there are other smaller management platforms out there such as Publer, Sendible, and Social Report which can fulfill marketers’ demands for scheduling posts on Google My Business.
By embracing everything that the platform has to offer, such as publishing posts, verifying a business, managing reviews from customers, adding key information and photos, and much more, users really can make the most of Google My Business for their company in the post-Google+ era.
For assistance in managing your Google My Business page and other social media accounts, please contact our expert team on 01903 530787 or email Lara.