Elizabeth McDonough

The Ultimate 2 Minute Google+ Guide for Nonprofits

Part I: What is Google Plus?

When Google+ was first launched in June of 2011, it wasn’t well received by all marketing professionals. David Meerman Scott, an online marketing strategist, said it best in a blog he wrote shortly after it was released, “I really want to hate Google Plus, because the last thing I need is a new social network.” Scott had a good point, who wants to worry about another social platform?

Today, Google+ has over 250 million users and its growth rate is 33% per year. In 2013, The Business Insider reported that Google+ is on track to overtake Twitter as the world’s second largest social media site.

Let’s face the facts. Google+ is a powerful platform that cannot be ignored. Just like any business, nonprofits need to take advantage of Google+’s features and use it to increase the reach of their cause. Here is a list of 4 Google+ features and an explanation on how to effectively use them to optimize your Google+ page.

Part II: Plus Mentions & Hashtags Increase Engagement

Some people question the importance of tagging on social channels. With all the chatter going on, it’s easy to miss notification and some networks, like Facebook, don’t always send notifications to page owners. Thankfully Google+ users do not need to worry about that happening. Tagging will extend the reach of your post and it will also notify the user you are “+” ing in your post. This increases the likelihood that other people will plus and share your content.

Make sure that you are also using appropriate hashtags to reach your target audience. Like Twitter, users can search topics and conversations via hashtags. To get your nonprofit’s content in front of more people, I suggest creating a standardized set of hashtags that your nonprofit uses when it publishes content – you can even create a specific campaign around your posts. These hashtags make your nonprofit more discoverable and will drive more people to the content on your website.

Check out UNICEF’s Google+ Page. They effectively use hashtags to target their audience based on their work in certain areas and campaigns.

Part III: Actively Participate in Communities

Google+ Communities are a great place to do some solid relationship marketing. Like LinkedIn Groups, Google+ Communities are open to like-minded peers and a place to share industry specific news or ask questions. There are a number of nonprofit communities with active discussions that are worth taking the time to skim through and be a part of. I recommend:

  • NPTech
  • Nonprofit News and Trends
  • Social Media 4 Good Community
  • Nonprofits
  • Nonprofit Fundraising Tips and Tools
  • Google+ for Nonprofits

    If your nonprofit has a blog (hopefully it does!), then these communities are outlets to share the content that your team has worked so hard to create. The great thing about sharing content in a group or community is that the content is more likely to appeal to the group members than to people who stumble upon your Google+ page. This is also an opportunity increase your number of followers. If someone in a community really liked the content you shared, they are more likely to start following your page and receive consistent updates.

    Part IV: Google Hangouts

    Communities are a great way to keep a pulse on the industry. However, you also want to be connecting and engaging with the supporters of your cause. Obviously, your page is one touch point you can use, but have you ever thought about using Google Hangouts?

    Hangouts are like real life group conversations. One of the coolest thing about Hangouts is that you can host a live video call with up to 10 people. This would be a super interactive way to tell your supporters about the impact your programs are having and encourage them to become donors. The personal connection that you can establish is powerful.

    If you were looking to start a more widespread conversation with your Google Hangout, you have the ability to Live Stream the video through YouTube. This allows you to invite people outside the hangout group to listen in and feel like a part of the conversation. Not to mention, you can also share your recording after you’re on air and it will be publicly available on your Google+ page and on your YouTube channel.

    Part V: Don’t Forget About SEO

    Yes, it is true Google+ is great for search engine optimization. You may not typically be thinking about SEO when you are building a social strategy, but with Google+ SEO is important and can improve the ranking of your nonprofit’s website. (For a beginner’s guide to SEO for nonprofits, check here.)
    Being at the top of search results would be great!

    In a recent blog, Neil Patel shares some powerful Google+ facts. Google owns 65-70% of search engine market shares and Google serves over 25% of internet traffic in North America. With that in mind, it makes sense to play by Google’s rules.

    First, make sure that you have optimized your Google+ page with keywords that you are trying to rank for on your “About” Page. The easiest way to do this is by editing your nonprofit’s story on your profile to include keywords. Then, make sure that you are linking to your website on your Google+ page. By doing this you are creating inbound links, which help your website rank higher in search results.

    After optimizing your Google+ page, the next thing your nonprofit needs to do is publish content on a regular basis. When you share content on Google Plus, it helps Google index more of your content faster, which gives it a greater chance of being discovered during searches.

    It is also important to write headlines specific for your Google+ page because the first 45-50 characters of your post becomes that post’s page title in Google’s search results. According to HubSpot, write the first line of your Google+ post as if you are writing a headline for a blog. Don’t forget: include a keyword in the headline that you are trying to rank for. For a more in depth look at Google+ and SEO best practices, check out this presentation by HubSpot on Slideshare.


    Don’t be afraid to expand your social network repertoire to include Google Plus. It is a powerful tool that nonprofits can easily take advantage of. If anything, it is another place for you to extend the reach of your cause and interact with potential donors.

    Get the Most Out of Social Media

    examples of successful nonprofit fundraising campaigns

    Image Credit: Carlos Luna

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