Effective social media strategy is bigger than just TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We often hear about these platforms and forget that there are several other platforms out there that have a tremendous impact. Just take a look at Google and YouTube. These platforms are highly underrated, but they’re some of the most valuable ways to reach customers in the moments when they need a product, service, or solution.
In fact, YouTube has actually replaced Facebook as the #1 platform for driving consumer behavior. And even with plenty of rivals out there, the launch of #shorts has positioned YouTube as a leader in the social and search arena. Case in point: 83% of US adults and 79% of UK adults that are connected to the Internet use YouTube.
It’s important to note that YouTube is owned by Google. The more you can strengthen your visibility and credibility on this platform as well as on other Google Tools, the greater your chance of being visible to the people that are looking for you. This emphasizes just how important it is to rethink your social media strategy to include both Google Tools and YouTube, especially when it comes to local marketing.
Keep reading to discover all the incredible (and free!) Google resources you can use to boost your small business.
Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) has the most hyperlocal focus of all the Google tools, providing businesses the opportunity to be seen and make sure their information is correct on Google Search and Maps. While some business owners cannot use it because of the nature of their businesses, most can and should use it. The key to making the most of Google Business Profile is to remember its strength: local marketing.
Your Google Business Profile gives you the opportunity to publish your business information on Google Search and Maps, highlight your hours, upload photos of your products, provide special attributes (veteran-led, Black-led, women-led, etc.), and post updates about your business. Yes, you read that right—you can post updates on your Google Business Profile like you would on any other social media platform!
Repurposing content that you have already posted on other social platforms is a great strategy to ensure that your information and updates are seen. When writing these posts, it’s important to be mindful of context. On Google Maps or Search, users are often seeking information and reviews (social proof), not social interaction. For example, what might be a post on social media asking followers if they like “this or that” could easily become a Business Profile post saying, “Whether you like [this] or [that], we have both–and for following us here on Google, here’s a one-time offer or gift.” You don’t even need to provide an offer. It could instead be something like, “Whether you like [this] or [that], we have both in stock now for curbside delivery from 11 AM to 6 PM.”
In addition, asking for and responding to reviews right within your Business Profile provides strong social proof not only to users, but also to Google. The algorithm will prioritize your business when they see you interacting with customers.
It’s important to keep your Business Profile focused on your local area. You can do this by entering your location either publicly or privately. Even if this information isn’t public, it still tells Google that you serve that area. You can also list your service areas by cities, counties, or zip codes. This will help the tool learn where you need to show up when people are searching.
Remember that the strength of this tool is local. Google encourages you to keep your service area list to within 100 miles of your location, regardless of whether you’re a home-based or public-facing location. I coach small businesses to keep it even tighter and stay within 25-30 miles. This keeps from diluting the strength of the tool and makes sure you are visible in these key areas. Even if you do serve customers nationwide, this tool is meant to have a strong local focus.
This free, robust tool measures visitor behavior on your site and, most importantly, what social media platforms they came from. It offers solid tracking so you can see what visitors did on your site, what information intrigued them, and which social platform provided the last lift before converting visitors to take action on your site.
Those insights are at the core of what Google Analytics (both the Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4) can do. It will help you see where to best spend your social efforts so that you can get the best returns. Additionally, these tools can confirm ownership of your site. Link Google Analytics with your Google Business Profile account and these tools will corroborate your business information, sending a signal to Google that your information is correct.
Why does this all matter? Google is the number one search engine in the world because users can find the correct information they need. With Google Tools connected for business, you’ll be able to confirm the accuracy of your business and site information so you can show up higher in search results.
Google is the largest library of the world wide web. And like any library, new information needs to be frequently entered and cataloged into the library records.
Imagine a business website as a book and each web page as a page in that book. When someone searches for your site, it’s similar to someone searching through a card catalog and going into the stacks of the library. But what if your book is not in the library?
Many believe that when they publish a site, it’s automatically entered into that database. But that’s not always the case. Google Search Console is the door to the library. Every business can enter their site into the library for free, confirm their information, delete what shouldn’t be included, see the health and performance of their site, and discover how it is viewed by the search engine. This is important when you launch social campaigns—you want to ensure users have the best possible experience and that there’s a clear path from your social media platforms to your site.
Linking Google Search Console and Google Analytics will allow Google Search Console to be verified and, like we said above, send a confirmation signal to Google that your information is valid.
If you have a product-based business and sell online (or both online and offline) then this tool is another amazing way to garner more visibility and social proof. Many think it’s simply what’s needed to run Google Shopping Campaigns, but that’s just one element of Google Merchant Center.
Let’s focus on the free aspects of the tool. Once you link Google Merchant Center with Google Analytics and your online store, it will pull in photos of your products and showcase them in Google Images, along with the price ranges in Google Shopping (this populates the Shopping Tab, not ads, that many people use to comparison shop). It also enables your products to be found using Google Lens (available only in the US for now).
For example, let’s say you sell photo albums for newborns. If someone is at a baby shower and they see a beautiful photo album and they’re curious where to find one for themselves, they can use Google Lens, snap a photo of it, and Lens will bring up a list of products that match what they’re looking for. Even if it’s not the exact same photo album, you’ll still be found because you’ve connected your products to Google Merchant Center.
YouTube is unique in that it serves as both a search engine and a social network (just take a look at the comments on a video!). It’s the second-most popular social network after the Meta social platforms and the second-most used search engine after Google. And YouTube has a longer shelf life compared to other social media platforms since the social feed isn’t time-governed.
When it comes to your business, using YouTube means you’ll have even more opportunities to be found and seen. So, how do you do that? Create new video content or take your Instagram Stories, TikTok, and Snapchats and repurpose them as #shorts. By doing this, you can give more width to the visibility of your pre-existing content without having to make anything new.
YouTube is also an incredibly powerful tool for conversion. Users are twice as likely to buy something if they saw it in a video first. For product-based businesses, videos can alleviate any concern potential customers may have and let them learn about the quality and benefits of your products. For service-based businesses, video is a chance to build rapport and confirm credibility. It gives potential customers the chance to get to know you and hear from you as an expert in your field.
With YouTube, it’s important to plan a posting strategy for content, as well as to plan engagement time for commenting, replying, and interacting with your audience. Finally, connect your YouTube channel with your other Google Tools to further confirm your business information.
Google Trends shows you what topics have been trending in your industry and location for the last hour, day, week, month, quarter, year, or several years on all of Google Search, including YouTube.
Before creating content, search and find relevant topics that are trending at the moment or breakout topics that are just starting to create a buzz. You can look nationwide or get granular to see what’s trending in your local community.
This can help you find out what ancillary products your customers may be interested in or what people are searching for when they find your competitors. It can also help you target your content so that it shows up where your customers are looking. Think of it as “fishing where the fish are.”
For example, let’s say you’re a veterinarian and you find that the top trending topic in your area in the past few days has been, “cheapest veterinarian in [name of your city].” You can create content, blog posts, and even a video about how you may not be the cheapest, but you are the best because you treat your four-legged friends like family. From seasonal trends to current hot topics, you’ll be able to tailor your content for relevancy, while still speaking with expertise.
Google Trends can also help you make tremendous business decisions. Just take a look at the local pizza restaurant owner who thought that lowering prices would be the best way to get more customers through his door. He checked Google Trends and saw that people were searching for farm-to-table restaurants and local vegetables. So instead of cutting prices, he reached out to two local farmers and featured their fresh vegetables on his pizzas. He highlighted these changes on all his social accounts, and customers started pouring in.
All these free tools are at your disposal with a free personal Gmail account or Google Account. The power of using all of these tools together, along with a strong social strategy, is that you’ll get some clear insights into your customers’ decision journeys no matter what platforms they zigzag between on their purchasing path.
Maria Elena Duron @maria
Social Media Advisory Board Member
I help small biz who are frustrated with digital marketing
Use free Google tools to reach customers in key moments
Speaker/Writer/ Google Trainer