This is a series of posts that are designed to help a tobacco shop owner from Western Oklahoma to the Texas Panhandle on using social media. You can read the first post about How a Western Oklahoma Tobacco Store Owner can use Facebook. This week we are talking about Google My Business and the

First off would like to state that many people believe that Google Plus is dead. Though I would agree that G+ is not as big of a player that it use to be, the core benefits that made Google Plus useful for small businesses like Cigar shops in Western Oklahoma, are still in place and still valid. Google Plus is run by the largest search company on the net. It goes without saying that the information that is provided in Google plus feeds is being indexed for searches. Then the Circles that are used if they are named in a descriptive fashion then it is also a good chance that that information is cataloged too. This means if an Amarillo Tobacconist is added to a circle labeled Store then Google would be able to set that bit of microdata to help understand what your tobacco store could be categorized.

Google has set it up so that your small businesses is able to use Google plus and have your own page for your Tobacco store as a central hub for all of Google services.  Yet, as a Pipe Tobacco store owner you may still be wondering why should they use Google Plus or My Business in their social media strategy. These services are Map placement, Reviews, SEO, Knowledge graph placement, and to get placed in any of this you have to first get your business verified.

Google + is its own Social Network

All that you post in Google Plus will be indexed. But also there is a huge community of people still using Google plus. It is far from a ghost town that many people who understand the benefits of Google Plus. Yes, the Circles are a little tough to wrap your head around and will rarely come into play. Most people use Google plus for Pictures so images of your Smoking pipes and types of cigars would benefit with a large beautiful picture to go with a post. Most Social networks are going visual and that is because of Google Plus and their priority they placed on images.

Showing up on Maps

Picture this, a gentleman of fine upbringing is traveling through say Western Oklahoma. He has passed through Weatherford and receives a call from Elk City and just hears that a multimillion dollar account just signed with his company. He feels like celebrating with a fine cigar. He picks up his phone and searches cigars in In Western Oklahoma in Google and what comes up? The opportunity for your cigar shop in Elk city comes up if you have your business listed in Google My Business. And you can then have your business address show up as a place marker on Google Maps. There is also people who actually look in Google Maps and them different businesses get presented with pace markers. When you click on these place markers you see street views of the business and important information like hours of operation, Phone numbers, physical Address. This is free advertising, a valuable service alone but is just part of the package that is Google My Business.

Now if there was ever a reason for a small tobacco store owner in Western Oklahoma to be on Google My Business. Being placed on My maps with all your important information is the top selling line, and you will get that opportunity when your business is verified.

Reviews

Google allows for your business to be reviewed whether it is verified or not. Now this is good, mostly. What happens when you are presented with a negative review? Someone who had just a bad experience? If you have your tobacco store verified you can respond to these reviews. You are actually able to open a dialog with that customer and help them with whatever problem they had with your cigar shop. What better service could you provide than to help a person who had a bad experience, change their mind and facilitate a positive experience with your tobacco shop? How many tobacco store do you know that actually see a customer having a positive experience actually ask if they would review them? Not many in my experience.

Unlike Yelp, where asking for reviews is against the terms of service. You can actually ask for reviews for your Google My Business, in fact, Google encourages you to ask for reviews.

SEO

Any web page you post up is able to be crawled and indexed by the different search engines online. So you want to make sure Google knows about your little Cigar shop in Woodward. Besides the required steps in SEO like getting a sitemap setup, and registering on webmaster tools for Google and Bing. Posting on to Google plus will help get your pages indexed faster because Google plus is tied into Google’s Search engine. So post links to your site from time to time. If you have a blog where you talk about the different types of tobacco and news of the tobacco industry I would defiantly make a post to the Google plus page. Along with other posts centered on cigars, pipes and the like this way they are ready to be found by your customers.

Knowledge Graph

Do a search for a company in Amarillo if they are verified in Google My Business you will see some specific information show up on the right-hand side of the desktop browser. This information will have your Phone number and Website address. It also gives a location of business what hours of operations are. With whether or not that business is open. With this, you will also see pictures that you and other people have taken of your store. Having your cigar ship validated with Google My business helps with giving your potential and current customers better information as to when they can consume your products. Then if you do a search for that same company on a mobile browser then you get the added benefit of the phone number being hot linked. In other words, you are making it as easy as possible for your potential customers to contact you.

Hangouts

What if you had your customers show up for you talk about different cigars and what type of drink it pairs well with? How about helping the adventurous new cigar or pipe smoker understand the culture and etiquette of cigar smoking? Then have people find your talk and show up and actively ask questions about tobacco and cigars and tobacco pipes. What type of value would you place on that type of experience? You can do that with Google Hangouts. Google hangouts is a video conference system that allows you talk with other people you invite. Then if you do Hangouts on Air then you can add a bigger audience who are present just to watch the event and ask questions through the chat system.  Then when done that conversation is automatically saved to your YouTube account. These things are possible using Google’s Hangouts service.

Being about to share with your customers and add value to their experience is what they are looking for, and when you are the company that is able to go that extra distance and not only sell them that new cigar but also educate them in why this cigar is worth spending $60 you also build a following. These people start looking to you for more information. So use Google Hangouts with caution because if you start it is recommended you try to be regular in your releases.

Analytics and insights

So how are you doing with your site? Is your site growing? Where are they coming from? When you have your business verified on Google you have access to not only Google analytics, and Webmaster tools but you are also able to see how people are interacting with your Google Plus page. You are able to see how many people have visited your page, how many people interacted with your posts. How many reviews have you received in the past weeks?

Getting verified is the Key

So that your cigar store is able to respond to Reviews and shop up in the knowledge graph you have to get verified. How do you get verified?

How

To get your tobacco store set up is not challenging but it is a multi-day process.

  1. Go to MyBusiness.google.com
  2. Click the START NOW button
  3. Type the name of your business and see if it is already listed.
  4. If no Match Click Doesn’t match Add Business
  5. You will enter the following
    Your Business Name
    The Country /Region
    The Street Address
    Full City Name
    State
    Zip Code
    Main Business Phone Number
    Category
    And whether or not you deliver goods and services to your customer’s location
  1. Double check your information and click that you are authorized to manage the page
  2. Click mail me My Code
  3. Add a contact name if you would like and select Send Postcard
  4. You will now have to wait for 1 to 2 weeks for the postcard to arrive at your address
  5. Click on Continue and you will be taken to Business.google.com

Now you can put in all the important information like Hours of operation. Logos, profile pictures, cover picture, and the like. If you make a mistake just click the pencil on the left-hand side and you can then make the needed changes

After you receive the postcard just follow the instructions on the page and you site is verified you will then be able to see all of the great

There is an App for that

After you have been setup and you have received your postcard and your verification is complete you can also track how your page is doing by using the My Business app for both iPhone and Android devices. This allows for you to see how everything is doing right at the touch of a finger.

If you need help with setting up your verification please contact me and I will assist in getting you up and going. Next post will be how a tobacconist can use Twitter to build and grow their audience. With the help of some tools.

Read more on this series

Facebook for a tobacco store
Twitter for a tobacco store
Pinterest for a tobacco store
Instagram for a tobacco store

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Bryan Goodwin

Social Media Manager at Goodwin Social Media
Bryan has been in the social media field in one form or another. whether it is blogging, podcasting, or trying out the latest social network . There is a good chance that you will find him talking somewhere.
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How an Amarillo tobacco store owner could use Google My Business