Google’s “Get Your Business Online Week” Starts Today (March 24, 2014). Google is fairly well known for this yearly effort which enables small businesses to create an online presence for free. They work with various partners such as Homestead.com who supplies a free (for 1 year) starter website package to participants.
In the past Google has sponsored on-site learning events around the country with partners such as local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) offices and Chambers of Commerce. This year they have continued that tradition but also added several new and interesting features to the mix.
Google has been quite busy in the last several years refining both their search engine and the Google+ platform. The search engine updates have been geared toward finding and delivering higher quality content for every search query and even understanding the context of the question.
Their Google+ platform is becoming the glue that holds the Internet together (at least Google’s sizable share of it). It allows users to have a single login that connects all of the various Google products (G+, YouTube, Gmail, Blogger) into one seamless platform. Plus, unlike other social networks it allows users to make use of only the specific parts of the platform that they need. My own feeling is that this type of platform is the next evolution in Social Networking,
For get Your Business Online week Google is making much more extensive use of the Google+ platform in several ways. The first is that, each day this week they are hosting an event for GYBO participants via their Google+ “Hangouts On Air” system.
These events stream live and are saved to YouTube as well so that those who miss the initial broadcast can catch up later as time permits. For today’s event they have scheduled some fairly well known people who have seen success in the world of online business;
Lindsey Shepard: VP of Sales at Goldieblox (+GoldieBlox)
Mike Dubin: Founder of Dollar Shave Club (+Dollar Shave Club)
Carly Strife: Co-founder and COO of BarkBox (+BarkBox)
Nikki Barua: CEO of Beyond Curious (+BeyondCurious)
In addition, as the title of this story says, they have created a new Google+ Group for Small Businesses. It seems that this Google+ Community is intended to be a permanent fixture rather than just being available for the GYBO week events.
The description of the Community says; “We’re a team at Google who wants to help business people make the most of the web, so we created this community to connect you with peers and experts both inside and outside of Google ready to share advice and support.”
Among the tools that Google has put at the disposal of Community members is one that makes use of another recent addition to the Google stable, Google Helpouts. Helpouts are another variation on the functionality of their Google Hangouts video chat and Hangouts On Air (mentioned above) which can be saved to YouTube.
The GYBO literature mentions that, during Get Your Business Online week this year, participants will be able to get “free expert one-on-one help over live video on Helpouts”. Topics that they list for these Helpouts include; Social Media, Google Analytics, Google Apps, Adwords, Website Help, IT Help, Mobile, SMB Tips and Marketing.
I think that this is a great opportunity for small businesses to get online. A recent poll of SMBsby The National Small Business Association shows that nearly 20% of small businesses still have no online presence. Of those that do there is a large percentage who are not making the most of their (often limited) assets on the web.
Google’s Get Your Business Online week and the new Google+ SMB community seem like a good opportunity for Small Businesses who are not on the web to finally take the plunge. In addition the many resources that they have brought to the table for this week and beyond will have substantial value for SMBs who are already on the web but who are not getting the kind of ROI from the Internet that they could or should.