If you’re a brick-and-mortar business you’re probably already familiar with the ups and downs of turning digital marketing into real foot traffic. Today, we’re looking at one of the simplest and most direct ways to stay in touch with your customers: Google My Business posts.
Google serves 5 billion searches for “restaurants” alone every month. It’s one of the first places your customers look when they need to find your opening hours, location, busy times, and latest news. And, just as crucially, Google is also where new and potential customers go to get a feel for your atmosphere, customer service, and offerings.
Unlike content for the other big social platforms, your Google My Business posts are designed for people who are already looking for you. You aren’t competing with baby animals or scary headlines. You don’t need to grab attention or pluck heartstrings. You just need to state the facts (preferably with excellent visuals and impeccable copy.)
But once you’ve optimized your Google My Business profile with all the latest details, what’s the next step? Is it worth the time and effort to include your Google My Business profile in your social media calendar and social customer service strategy? The short answer is: probably.
The medium answer is: GMB is pretty much the opposite of, say, starting a YouTube channel. The rewards are high, but the time, know-how and costs involved are all low.
For the long answer, read on.
In this post we’re going to look at best practices for creating the best Google My Business posts to communicate directly with your customers, which translates to improving their experience and your bottom line at the same time.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
How to post to Google My Business
Google My Business posts are short and simple updates for communicating with people who are actively looking for information about your business (or businesses like yours).
One of the reasons GMB posts are so important is because Google prioritizes quality data in its search results, so making sure you’re giving your customers what they want may well improve your search ranking. For example, if you run an icecream shop in Seattle, you’ll have a higher likelihood of showing up in search results when someone search “ice cream shop Seattle”.
Let’s go through the steps for posting to your Google My Business profile.
1. Set up and optimize your GMB profile (if you haven’t already)
Once you have your Google My Business profile up and running, you can make posts by signing in to Google My Business, downloading the Google My Business mobile app, or using Hootsuite to integrate your GMB strategy with your other social media marketing channels (we have more details on that in a bit).
2. Select the best type of post for your goals
In the menu, click Posts, and select your post type.
At the minimum, each GMB post features an image, text, and a clear call-to-action. Some also include time constraints. Depending on your goals—is your summer patio open? are you hosting a book signing?—decide on one of these options:
- What’s New: Announcements and general information about your business.
- Events: List your live or online events (your post will need to include a start and end date and time).
- Offers: Announce limited-time coupons, discounts, promotions, or sales (again, you’ll need to include a start and end date, and you can also include a coupon code).
- Products: These posts help you feature one or more of the products you have available in your Product tab (which you will need to set up separately.)
Note: As of spring 2020, GMB is also offering a COVID-19 update tab where you can update your business hours; adjusted service options (i.e., curbside pickup? Takeaway only? Free delivery?); and other relevant social distancing measures.
3. Craft your post
GMB posts don’t have to be flashy: chances are your audience is actively searching for the information you’re offering. But some methods are better than others, so here are our best tips to keep in mind.
While posts have 1500-character limits, aim to keep things short and direct here. The first 7 or 8 words will show up above the fold, and users have to click to read more, so get your message across as quickly as possible. Try to avoid going longer than 150-300 characters, unless you have a very good reason.
Pro tip: Hashtags are unnecessary and irrelevant on GMB, but a few on-brand emojis can be a nice touch.
The photos and videos you upload for your posts should be professional-grade, or as near to it as you can manage.
An appealing portrait of your prize-winning croissandwich, or a moody golden-hour angle on your vine wall may well be the deciding factor for a new customer trying to choose between you and the place down the street. Showcase your absolute best in order to turn searchers into customers. (Keep scrolling for Google My Business post image size guidelines.)
Google offers a range of CTA buttons. Options are varied and depend on your post type, but all the standards are represented: Learn More, Order Online, Buy Now, etc.
You’ll definitely want to ensure that you link to an effective (that is, seamless and scannable) landing page. If you’re not linking to your own page, ensure it’s a site you trust, so that it won’t risk running afoul of Google’s content policy.
Pro Tip: Consider using UTM parameters for your links so you can measure how much of your site traffic is coming from Google, versus your other marketing efforts.
If you’re listing an event or offer, you’ll need to specify the times and dates for which it’s valid.
Pro Tip: According to Google, unless a post has a specific date range, all posts are archived after 7 days.
Click Preview to see how your post will look, make sure you copy-edit and fine-tune it, then go ahead and hit Publish. Your post will show up in three places:
- On mobile: the tabs labelled Updates o Overview on your company’s Business Profile (in both Search and Maps)
- On desktop: in the “From the Owner” section of the Business Profile (in both Search and Maps)
Google My Business websites (a.k.a. those low-effort websites that Google will help you make if you don’t have your own)
5. Don’t forget to check on your analytics
Unsurprisingly, Google has plenty of interesting insights for you to check out once you’ve got some posts up and running. Take a look at your post views and see how your customers are engaging with your profile. Then give them more of what they like.
Pro tip: Tackle quality as well as quantity. According to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are 1.7x more trustworthy than those that don’t. So ensure your digital customer support strategy is keeping an eye on your Google My Business reviews, along with your other social listening habits.
Can Hootsuite post to Google My Business?
Yes, Hootsuite can post What’s New announcements to Google My Business. The process is simple:
- Verify your Google My Business profile.
- In Hootsuite’s App Directory, install Google My Business.
- You’ll now have a Google My Business tab on your Hootsuite dashboard.
- Authorize Hootsuite to access your GMB account for each stream (posts, questions, and reviews).
- In the Posts stream, click to add a New Post.
- Fill in the fields (text, image, CTA button and link).
- Click Post Now.
For a quick look at how to use Hootsuite to post to Google My Business, we have a convenient video tutorial:
Google My Business post image sizes
When it comes to posting visuals to your Google My Business posts, you’ll want to keep these guidelines in mind:
- Image size:
- Minimum: 400 wide x 300 pixels tall, 10kb
- Maximum: 10,000 x 10,000 pixels, 25 MB
- Video size: file sizes (AVI, MP4, MOV, etc.) can be a maximum of 100MB
5 great Google My Business post examples
1. Event promotion posts
While in-person events aren’t back in style yet, this is a perfect example of how a local bookstore keeps everyone updated on the goings-on in their two locations.
2. Update posts
Nouveau Palais is not usually a take-out restaurant, so implementing an online ordering system and advertising their opening times to their customers was a wise move during lockdown. And even during better times, posting some enticing pictures of your offerings and keeping your hours freshly updated is a great look.
3. Promotional posts
If you’ve got a coupon or a promotion you want your customers to hear about, post it here, too.
4. Human posts
Google isn’t Instagram. You are not necessarily here to win hearts and minds. Posts are fairly functional. But I have to say, this post from a neighbourhood institution in Montreal was quite touching, perhaps in a way that a post on a platform where everything is split-tested to be As Touching As Possible can’t match.
5. Or, if all else fails, just post some great visuals
The great thing about photos (and videos, as boutique Etat de Style posted, below) is that Google will multipurpose them: into your photos, into your Google image search results, etc. So grab a sunny day and bribe your photographer friend to come over.
Best time to post on Google My Business
While Google doesn’t offer statistical guidance on the best time to post to Google My Business, we have some tips to help you find your own best practices, based on your unique audience.
Post when your audience will see it
Take some time to think about your audience’s habits, time zones, commuting schedules, et cetera. This goes for online as well as real-world habits. For instance, if you’re running a pizza shop with regular weekend rushes, post about your deals before people start to search for you, say Thursday or Wednesday.
Test the same posts at different times and review the analytics
With GMB, your evergreen content—say, mentioning how you have access to that rare brand of imported oat milk—can be reposted every week, seeing as posts disappear on their own after 7 days. Figuring out when to post means you can experiment, week by week, to see what time works best.
Use Hootsuite to communicate with your customers via Google My Business and all your other social channels. Create, schedule, and publish posts to every network, get demographic data, performance reports, and more. Try it free today.