Mountain View, CA, August 16 – Google announced yesterday that on August 27th (4:30pm – 5:30pm EST) Maria Contreras-Sweet, the current Administrator of the US Small Business Administration will be doing a live Hangout On Air with members of the Google Small Business Community on Google+. The announcement was made in the standard way, by means of an automated HOA (Hangout On Air) notice delivered to the (current) 1,867,927 followers of the Google+ Your Business page.
According to a recent survey up to 52% of businesses in the US still do not have any meaningful web presence. Google has been sponsoring various outreach programs to Small Businesses in an effort to make it easier for them to enter the online marketplace. Their yearly Get Your Business Online (GYBO) week is one example.
For the past year or so I have had the good fortune to play a small role in the development and implementation of some of Google’s newest products for small business. I am one of the volunteer Advisors in the Google owned Small Business Community on Google+ who were recruited by Google to offer advice and guidance to the members of the community.
The Google Small Business Community was launched in conjunction with this year’s GYBO week and offers members many learning resources along with frequent Q&A sessions with digital experts on a host of business related topics through their Hangouts On Air live streaming video platform. The upcoming HOA with Administrator Sweet is an example of these events.
The event also illustrates Google’s commitment to providing quality content for the community members. After all, it is not just anyone who can connect you, as a small business owner, with a current member of the President’s Cabinet for a live Q&A session.
I have also been working with my local SBDC at Bucknell University in Lewisburg PA (independent of Google) to educate businesses on topics that they need to understand in order to be successful online. I have found that there is definitely a need for this kind of educational service both for established and new businesses. The SBDC staff and the services they provide have proven to be a great resource to members of the business community in my area and I am sure that the same holds true nationally.
Google’s commitment to provide an environment on the web where businesses can find success is demonstrated in many ways. Their Local Business Directory listings on Google Maps and Google search is one of the most obvious. These listings are great for local brick and mortar businesses because they show up on the first page of Google search in addition to the regular “organic” search listings and the Adwords ads. This gives small businesses the chance to be seen and compete with larger businesses in their local service area.
There is much more “in the works” that may be added to the already impressive array of services that Google offers to small businesses. In the meantime, if you want to participate in the live HOA with SBA Administrator Sweet, just sign up for the HOA and while you are at it join the Google Small Business Community so you don’t miss out on other upcoming events and announcements. If you can’t watch the HOA live it will be available afterward on the Google+ My Business YouTube channel.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to success on the web. Each business is as unique as its owner. That is why it is important for business owners to know of all the different resources that are available to them and to have some advice available as to how to pick the best ones for their own online presence and their market. Most of the readily available material meant to guide you in this respect is pretty generic because it has to be to appeal to a wide audience. This makes it confusing and business owners who are novices when it comes to the web are often bewildered by it and don’t understand why it doesn’t work for them.
Having a “Trusted Digital Media Advisor” at your disposal, one who has the experience and knowledge to guide you through this morass of information and help you devise your own online strategy is very important. The Google Small Business Community and its team of Advisors is one step in this direction.