Google Plus 1 year on: lessons from a small business owner.

Introduction
I have been on Google Plus for just over 1 year. I have learnt a lot and this has primarily been due to the assistance and interaction from Google Plus users.

This entry is me giving back to a community from which I learnt. For all you small business owners not sure about Google Plus read this through and then the results at the end. If you have any questions feel free to ask.


Special thanks to +Stephan Hovnanian +Marilyn Moore +martin shervington and +Zara Altair you and your postings were inspiration and invaluable knowledge throughout my year on Google Plus

My Business

+Omy Amsterdam Tours   specializes in daily tours of Amsterdam. I have been a tour guide in Amsterdam for 7 years. I wanted to start a small business but more importantly a brand so if Kieren is not working people would still respect the brand.

I limit groups to 4 people maximum. This way you don’t feel like a tourist but rather a traveller. The guide can talk to you like a person not like an audience.

The small margins with tour guiding mean I do not spend $1 on advertising or marketing. Word of mouth is my marketing and Google Plus has become an integral role for my brand.

Review methodology:

I posted to this community to ask how my 1 year review can help small business owners new to Google Plus. Here is the original posting https://plus.google.com/107404757371002910648/posts/EotbZucNWwF

What do you know now, that you wish you’d known when starting out? – Question by +Marilyn Moore  

Don’t get caught up on the detailed structural issues of your account. Get a nice picture up for your background and your business logo in a Google plus square and start. Yes, it is important to get your business connected to local pages and fill out your account information correctly. However, Google Plus is about connecting and letting your personality come through your postings behind your brand.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions If you don’t ask you won’t know. Don’t forget to give back

Find people and communities that resonate with you This will take a bit time but don’t waste time with communities full of spammers and who don’t interact.

Use visual content This maybe for my business of travel and tour guiding. My eureka moment was a post that received a lot of +1s was a picture of tulips I took at the market last Spring and put a filter over it. This was despite me posting a lot of quality content from my blog. Here is the post https://plus.google.com/108657021314299905958/posts/gsXN2NE3kiV

- I learnt I had just not packaged the information properly. Use websites such as Canva. I have no background in design and I still managed to put a nice photo in a background and some text over it. Look at this Top 10 List as an example. https://plus.google.com/108657021314299905958/posts/dnTZZ2ZUH6C

Post to Communities for your first months You will make contacts you would never have been exposed to and you will find your voice. Still to this day I share mostly to communities because I have interesting things in the specific areas. For example, my blog I share with Urban Travel.

Share your knowledge not your products Don’t share your proprietary information. I post my products about 5% of postings. Every Business is different. But here are a few examples from my end. I have a beer tour. I post to the beer community “what I am drinking”. I live in a land of beer that beer lovers in the rest of the world would dream about. I don’t mention my beer tour to the community but I do put a link to my website as a sign off message in my postings. Look at this post https://plus.google.com/108657021314299905958/posts/gTLjYWeAMrF

Share information from authorities in your field This way you also become an expert. I often share posts from local bloggers. Yes I have a blog but I can’t blog on everything

+Debbie Orol  put it another way in the comments section of my initial inquiry “I wish that I had known that there are so many opportunities to connect with others online to learn what you do not know! I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to figure stuff out on my own and made it way more difficult than it needed to be. Oh well. Live and learn.”

How did you get local followers? – Question by +Mike Blumenthal 

Amsterdam is a small city and not many people of are on G+. In Europe Google Plus still has the “ghost town” generalization. This is one of the reasons why I targeted Google plus.

Large businesses had a presence but much of it is automated. Many small accommodation businesses in my sector had a G+ presence but it was patchy.

To answer this question, I basically led from the front and those joining google plus from Amsterdam started following me.

What is the comparison to some of the other social sites on which you’re active? – Question by +Jane's Hardware & Drygoods 

As most small business owners know there is little time for social media when it gets busy. I look at Google Plus as a strategic primary choice for marketing. You have read it many times but Google Plus is google. When 95% of my customers do not live locally this means I am raising awareness about my business before the customer leaves their home in another country. 

Google Plus allows me to market Amsterdam as a possible destination. As one of the prominent Google Plus Amsterdam Brands I represent Amsterdam. My personal interests lay the pillars for representing Amsterdam. This opens me to an endless number of people: tech people in this community; photographers; travel industry; B2B; bicycle enthusiasts; gardeners; cannabis advocates; historians; 5 star hotels. You see how this is very different to facebook and twitter.

Facebook is for long time fans, local champions of my business, people that have visited Amsterdam. These people know my product. Facebook is a closed network. Content sharing with this audience needs to be edgy, interesting and beyond the norm. I have posted less in the last year on Facebook but when I do my fans really appreciate the post.

Twitter is about the now and keeping up to date on what is going on today and this week. Locals and industry people respect knowledge and in turn recommend Omy Amsterdam Tours to new arrivals.

Results

- Across my Google Plus profiles I have over 1 million views. Please remember these number are not an accurate indicator but for small business owners it is an indicator.

- I have witnessed a 650% increase in bookings by people with a gmail account

When I read through this post I am extremely happy with these results and would have never dreamed of these results one year ago. 

This means you can do it too.


If you or any friends are coming to Amsterdam here is my blog with useful tips and information. If you or they require a tour you know where to find me.

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!
www.omyamsterdamtours.com
#googleplustips   #smallbusinesstips   #smallbusinessmarketing  
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