Going Local is a Plus for Business

Feel like you finally got Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn down pat? Timelines updated, tweets go out daily, and profiles have been polished and fine-tuned? Think you're done with updates and integration on your social campaigns? Haha, not even close.

The social media space is always on the brim of either something new or something changing. And this time, with over 100 million users (and growing), Google+ is becoming another must-have force in the social networking world. But that's not all!

Differentiating itself from Facebook business pages and Twitter business profiles, Google+ makes accessing apps and resources easier by tying them all together under the same profile. This means that Google+ has seamlessly converged into one profile including your Places page, YouTube channel, and Gmail account.

So what does this mean for your business?

If you don't already have a Google+ account, it's time to make another shift in your social campaign and integrate yourself into the Google+ platform. If you just have a few of Google's apps (like a Places page), you might as well get on board with Google+ now. One of the new introductions Google made is Google+ Local, merging the current Google+ social networking profile with the business (Places) page. And if you don't transition yourself, Google will eventually do it for you.

A little more than the average bear...

Google+ Local comes with a new layout focusing on pictures (hey, we've been saying get those pictures into your Google Places page for a while now...) and their new scoring system (which is apparently going to be a big deal from their old school "5-star rating" system). In conjunction with being able to leave a review, users (CUSTOMERS) will be able to give businesses a "score." Here is a quick scale of how the score system works (note: skip the next paragraph to get to the meat and potatoes if numbers make you cross-eyed like us):

Individual users (cough: customers) base their rating on a 0-3 point scale (3 is excellent, 2 is very good, 1 is good, and 0 is fair/poor). Google takes these ratings, tallies them up, multiplies them, probably throws some glitter on them, and then arrive to an average score for the location (30-26 is perfection/extraordinary, 25-21 is excellent/very good, 20-16 is very good/good, 15-10 is good/fair, and 9-0 is fair/poor).

Here are the meat and potatoes: the scores are presented across several categories, all based on the type of business area the company falls within. So for example, a restaurant could be scored on anything from food, service, décor, and cost while keeping food the primary category. Restaurants also have the added feature of showcasing a Zagat score (which may or may not be beneficial), however if the business does not have enough "scores" then an overall score is shown instead.

This change from the old rating system gives business owners great insight to their strengths and weaknesses via the breakdown system.

It also allows your local listing to be found on Google+, making it easy for people to review and share your small business with friends and around the web. The gap between social networking and reputation is increasingly closing, and Google is capturing the synergy between the two in a fun yet functional matter.

Even if this seems like another long-winded social trend, keeping up with the different platforms can prove to be way more rewarding and will definitely pay off in the long haul, especially when someone out there can already go ahead and set it up for you. Keep your brand image consistent by remaining in control of your brand's online destiny.

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