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Google+ has thus far not been taken very seriously by businesses trying to promote their products and services. This is swiftly changing! Google+ has now positioned itself beautifully to challenge Facebook as a major social network for business. Websites using the +1 Button increase page traffic by 350%, and over 925,000 people join Google+ each day! Combine all of the functionality of your Google account, and massive search engine benefits, you’ve got something we can get excited about.

How to utilize your Google+ Local listing

Confused on how to use Google+? Don’t fret – use these for starters!

  1. Complete your Google+ profile – Give this some thought as you do it. Use compelling photos and images, and be sure you link out to your other social media accounts.
  2. List your key information – Especially hours of operation, contact information, along with maps and directions.
  3. Link to your blog or site – Be sure to link to your primary business blog or site. This will result in added traffic and a great backlink.
  4. Create your business page –You can create content of any length, including video. This has direct benefits for search results as well as folks that find you on Google+.
  5. Link to your other material – Link out to your blog posts. In addition to getting them indexed nearly instantly, this also has a number of SEO advantages. You can also use your Google+ page for making posts, including multimedia that can link to your pages elsewhere. The possibilities are staggering.
  6. Utilize the Direct Connect feature – This Google+ tool permits people to add you to circles when they come across you in search. Similar to a Facebook “Like”.
  7. Use video chat in Google+ Hangouts – Whenever you hold a video chat, Google+ streams it, records it, and sends you the recording via email. You can then upload to YouTube if you wish, or use it on your website or privately. One great option to use it is to create impromptu product demos.

This is just the start of what’s possible with Google+. To see more methods plus a very cool infographic on the subject see this post on CopyBlogger.

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LinkedIn should be ranked among the big three of social media sites, right along with Facebook and Twitter. But LinkedIn is in fact more valuable for your business because as opposed to its rivals, this social-media site focuses specifically on business. In other words, you won’t have people on LinkedIn posting about how good their oatmeal tasted this morning.

How smart businesses are using LinkedIn

You operate a business. Your time and energy is in short supply. So just why should you worry about LinkedIn? Here are some ways your peers (there are 1.3 million small-business owners on the network) are using it to their benefit:

  1. Sharing wins: Promoting your successes is just good marketing. It will make you look good to potential customers. And with 2 million C-level executives using the site, you might find yourself with some influential new friends.
  2. Getting referrals: LinkedIn makes it easy to get peer and client endorsements for the work you do. Best part? When someone endorses you or writes a testimonial, everyone within your network sees it in his or her activity feed. This kind of social proof is the BEST way to get new customers.
  3. Finding new talent: If your small business continues to grow, you’ll definitely need to hire new employees. LinkedIn is a great place—scratch that, it’s the BEST place—to find new players to add to your team.
  4. Promoting events: LinkedIn’s event feature is a game changer! It’s never been so easy to spread your message and boost attendance for upcoming events. You can also use their service directory to find a caterer for your gathering. Simple.
  5. Boosting website traffic: Here’s a little-known secret about LinkedIn: it’s very influential with Google, if you have a presence on LinkedIn, you’re going to notice a bump in search engine visibility, too. More eyeballs, more prospects.
  6. Getting answers: You can uncover great information on both marketing and owning a successful business from other pros in LinkedIn Answers and Groups. You will find over 2000 groups dedicated to small-business-related topics.
  7. Finding investors, vendors and partners: It’s a networker’s paradise. Whether you want some capital, a new accounting firm, or a business partner, you’re not going to find a better source than LinkedIn.

We’re just scratching the surface here, folks. The benefits don’t stop there. Head over to LinkedIn, set up a page for your business and see for yourself. I realize your time is scarce, but trust me, it’s worth it.

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Always Connected: A Day in the Digital Age – Visual Academy

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Happy reading!

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In an interesting interview with Wired magazine, Google board member Ram Shriram says open systems will always outlast closed ones. Shriram also seems to compare seemingly invulnerable Facebook with AOL—which, ouch!

WIRED: I know you are an open data kind of guy, but closed off worlds like Apple’s and Facebook’s are killing it these days. Can an open approach still compete?

SHRIRAM: Right now reminds me of an earlier era was I was at Netscape, and AOL was an early leader. We know how it ended for AOL. I think ultimately open always wins out. It wins out because you cannot lock data in, you can’t lock people in, they will find a way out.

WIRED: Even out of their love affair with Apple?

SHRIRAM: In Apple’s case it’s really about a proprietary hardware platform running software. I wouldn’t call iOS closed. In the long term, all these businesses are going to have some level of interoperability. I think it will take market pressure to move these companies one way or the other. It will take consumers voting with what they like and don’t like, whether they stick with something or not.

WIRED: It seems like most of us are pretty entrenched in our online habits, what’s going to force us to change?

SHRIRAM: I remember when AOL was small and they were growing like mad. Consumers were coming on in droves because they made it easy to connect to the Internet. That was the single biggest innovation of AOL, when grandmas were signing up, AOL had arrived. Then the model flipped, and AOL became a toll-taker. That’s when it all broke down, and the Internet finally prevailed. I have a belief that is true in the long-term for any of these other platforms: Ultimately, the Internet prevails.

10 Questions: Ram Shriram | Wired.com

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This week Google made waves when it folded all existing Google Places pages into Google+ and rebranded them as Google+ Local listings. Here’s a roundup of reactions and analysis from around the web, starting with two official announcements from the Goog:

The early takeaway? This move effectively forces businesses and individual users to get involved with Google+ in a big way.

Update I: Here’s another good overview of the change from David Mihm.

Update II: Here’s a helpful FAQ for business owners and Places administrators from Google community manager Vanessa Gene.