We all know that Facebook and Twitter are a must in every social media marketing campaign. Not only do these platforms provide one of the biggest referral traffic, they also contribute to brand awareness and conversion. When nurtured, audiences on Facebook and Twitter can become long-time loyal customers. There’s no need to dig deep to find articles, tutorials, and case studies on them either; the Web is chockfull of tips on how to properly utilize these platforms.

What about Google+ and Pinterest though? Why are online marketers not giving them enough credit? How much can they contribute to a website’s success?

The Numbers Tell All

When it comes to effective social media marketing, the NUMBER, TYPE, and ACTIVITY of audiences makes a huge difference. You don’t want to promote content on a platform that holds little to almost non-existential subscribers. At the same time, it’s a waste of effort trying to boost posts to a large number of non-active followers. Effective social media marketing then, is an intricate balance that involves these vital factors.

Depending on your industry, Google+ and Pinterest could hold untapped opportunities for your business. According to a 2014 Business Insider Intelligence report, these two platforms are quickly growing to become one of the world’s top social media channels for millennials. This market, consisting of people born from 1980’s to early 2000’s, are not just savvy consumers, they have the ability to influence purchasing decisions of their friends and families as well. This makes them one of the most ideal target markets for many brands today.

BI report revealed that Pinterest grew from 25 to 33 percent by Spring of 2014. Google+ on the other hand, soared from only 37 percent to 44 percent. Women still outnumber men in terms of users on Pinterest; with 10 percent of surveyed households earning more than $125k a year.

Meanwhile, accurate Google+ data seems to be a bit more elusive. In an Adweek article, digital marketing expert and CEO of Stone Temple Consulting Eric Enge tried to analyze more than 500k profiles to determine social activity. The results look a bit glum: out of more or less 2.2 billion profiles, only 23.4 million people seem to be active according to their public posts.

However, Enge and other digital marketers believe this is only the surface: Google+ profiles are connected to other platforms (such as Youtube) where activity is thriving. If private data could be analyzed, it will likely show that Google+ users are participative in other ways. This data accounts for U.S. millennials only – so just think how big the opportunity must be globally.

Taking Advantage of Visuals

Similar to other social media platforms, it’s not enough to simply post and go. Large and small businesses need to select the right metrics in order to get the most out of Google+ and Pinterest. Unlike heavyweights Facebook and Twitter (which rely more on content freshness), content on Google+ and Pinterest could remain popular years after it’s been posted. This is thanks to their unique system as a social media channel.

In Pinterest for example, users can keep re-pinning a single image so long as it’s relevant to their interest. Another user may see the same photo according to his or her activity, leading to more Pins. Thus, the cycle continues. This makes Google+ and Pinterest the best social media platforms for long-term content promotion.

However, it’s difficult to take advantage of these strengths if you’re NOT clear on your business goals. Assuming you have that in order, here are the top five tips to harness the untapped potentials behind Google+ and Pinterest:

#1 Find Out Who’s Doing What

First, identify WHO you are targeting and WHAT type of content they are sharing.

In Google+, a favorite activity for most users is commenting on Youtube videos. On top of that, a 2014 statistics revealed that 29 percent of their subscribers are millennials. Use this to your advantage by creating and/or sharing interesting, relevant videos that appeal to this target market. Ensure that these are optimized for mobile accessibility as most millennials view content on portable devices.

In Pinterest, see how you can create related content for the Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, and Home Decor sections because these are the most pinned and browsed categories. If you can’t make one OR your niche is just too far off, consider other Pin-worthy content like quotes, infographics, and step-by-step visual guides.

Apparel and outdoors equipment L.L. Bean is a wonderful example of this strategy. Their Pinterest boards are hardly promotional. Instead of simply posting their products, they focus on what their audience likes (traveling, the outdoors) and uploads content based on those interests.

#2 Adjust Content Accordingly

Again: don’t just post and go! Think about image size, style, theme, and descriptions when putting up content on these two platforms. Third party apps like Canva make it easy to create customized photos for Google+ and Pinterest. Simply choose a size, upload a photo, add extras (such as text or icons), and download!

Another thing to consider is the use of hashtags. They are different than how you would utilize them on Twitter. In Google+ for example, hashtags are normally added AFTER a status or description. Using more than three per post is considered bad practice, too. Pinterest on the other hand, doesn’t make hashtags viewable on mobile.

Understanding the TYPES of content that work best on these platforms is a good way of leveraging their strengths. Retail giant H&M understands this and it led to their Google+ success, boasting of more than 5 million followers. Their posts combine well-thought out copy, appropriate yet unique hashtags, a URL pointing back to their website, and professionally-shot photos.

#3 Arrange Beautifully – On and Offsite

Google+ and Pinterest rely heavily on visual content – so it’s a good idea to give a little extra effort in this aspect. On Pinterest, make sure you create one board for each specific idea. The same is true for Google+ photo galleries. This makes your content easy to find and follow. Country Living magazine is a great example of this tactic. Their Pinterest profile features boards with custom covers so you can effortlessly sort your way through more than 14,000 Pins.

Another trick to double your audience reach is to embed Google+ and Pinterest content on your other accounts. Both social media platforms provide the necessary embedding codes for their users, so just see their support page for more details. Not only will it look stunning on your blog or homepage, it’s also a great way to gain more followers.

#4 Mind Your Descriptions and URLs

Just because Pinterest and Google+ rely on images doesn’t mean that you should ignore URLs and descriptions. In fact, they can be just as important in promoting your photos across various social platforms. Make these elements user- and search engine-friendly by keeping them within a reasonable length (about 200-300 characters), making them descriptive, and inserting relevant semantic keywords.

As you may already know, Pinterest flags shortened URLs for spam purposes. Keep out of the red zone by using your own URLs. However, the same doesn’t apply to Google+. To make the most out of your posts, you can use URL shorteners like Bitly so you can spice up your descriptions.

#5 Create The Best Bio

Don’t discount the effect a good company or brand bio has on your Pinterest and Google+ profiles. Make it personal: include your location and website URL, plus a few words of what makes your business different. For local businesses, you may also add your phone number, plus the name of your main marketing contact so people will feel more confident about getting in touch with you.

Pinterest and Google+ allows their users to add other social media accounts (such as Facebook and Twitter), so don’t forget to include those in your bio as well.

Analyze and Measure

Whether you use Pinterest, Google+ or both, your social media marketing efforts would be useless without analysis and measurement. Pinterest for instance, has its own Analytics so you can see how well your campaign is working.

Your best bet is of course, to check your Google Analytics reports. But in general, there are three metrics you need to keep an eye on:

  • audience reach (how many viewed and/or added your content),
  • click-through rate (how many people clicked your links), and
  • conversion (the percentage or number of people who completed a specific action on your website).

You can add more factors to measure, depending on what you want to achieve over a particular time frame. If you’re not sure where or how to begin, don’t hesitate to contact the pros.

Although there are several predictions over what will happen to Google+ and Pinterest in the future, constant monitoring and adjustment will be key to staying on top of the social media game. Keep on discovering and improving strategies for your campaigns. Don’t limit yourself to popular platforms! Changing trends are natural.

Remember, if there’s no challenge, it’s probably not worth it.

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