Google Plus has the reputation as being the social network you love to hate. It has been called a “Ghost Town”, “The Dead Zone”, and a host of other less than flattering (and far less than accurate) names. Numerous theories abound as to why there are so many G+ haters, but my best guess is that people don’t like change. Most are comfortable on Facebook. They are vaguely apathetic. They do not want to leave their comfort zone. Google+ can wait.
I challenge the thinking that Google+ is not a priority. In fact, I believe it should be your #1 priority and here is why:
1. Google Plus is Not a “Facebook Killer”
To start with, the “either or” mentality is shortsighted Google has known from the start that they do not need to be a replacement for Facebook, they simply need to be an alternative. Google+ is a completely unique space with unique features that you cannot find anywhere else. It is the best of the social graph rolled up into one far, far reaching network.
2. Google Knows What We Are Looking For
The King of Search is fully aware of what people want, what they need. They have spent the past 10+ years analyzing what people search for, the results they favor, and more importantly market trends.
3. Google+ Brings People Together
Google understand people and their innate desire to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. More importantly, Google created three tools to do so quickly and easily:
- Circles – Similar to Twitter lists, but fast, easy and visual.
- Communities – Similar to Facebook Groups, but better organized and with respect for our privacy. Read all about communities here.
- Hangouts – Video chat rooms with Skype calling functionality. Plus, it’s free, can be recorded and/or broadcast live.
4. Google is a Social Search Trailblazer
Its not a coincidence that the world’s most successful search engine has added superior search functionality on Google Plus. Add to that the ability to use hashtags and now Google has given us a phenomenal way of searching across the entire social graph.
5. Google IS Search
This is kind of a no-brainer, but let me toss it out there. Google+ was created to be the social side of Google. Google is search. When people say they know SEO, what they really should say is they claim to know how to get found on Google.
Let me put it in simple terms. Google+ is Google. Content shared on Google Plus is being indexed almost immediately and showing up in search results faster and and with greater frequency. Add in Rich Snippets, and the value proposition is obvious.
How To “Do” Google+
You cannot fully appreciate the phenomenal opportunities offered by Google+ until you experience it for yourself. You need to take a test drive and see what she has under the hood. Here is an outline to get your started.
Adding another network to your social graph can seem daunting and terribly time consuming. It doesn’t have to be. I challenge you to set aside a half hour each day, for a week. Just thirty minutes. For seven days. Follow these simple steps. If you do this faithfully for one week, you will be hooked. Trust me. 🙂
Renee Zellweger may have told Tom Cruise “You complete me” in Jerry Maguire, but this is reality. Complete yourself. Add a profile image and a banner image. A new #googleplusupdate has added a few new features, the most noticeable being a larger cover photo (minimum 480px x 270px and up to 2120px by 1192px) to replace the banner image. With an approximate aspect ratio of 16 x 9 when displayed, your cover photo is sure to grab attention so make it memorable.
Be sure to complete the various “cards”: People, Story, Work, Places, Education, Basic Information, Contact Information, Apps and Links.NOTE: You can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them private.
Be conscientious, detailed, and specific when you fill out the information on your cards. This is the information that will determine what people know about you, whether or not your have anything in common and most importantly if they decide to circle you, which circle to add you to.
Create Your Circles
When you create your Google+ profile using a Gmail account or your Google Apps email, Google will ask you if you want to add people you know. This is a great way to start to build your circles. You can also have Google suggest friends by goinghttps://plus.google.com/people/find.
By far the best way to grow your circles is to utilize one of these four methods:
- Use the Google+ search bar and do a search for “circle share keywords” with keywords being replaced with topics you are interested in, such as Battlestar Galactica, Homeland, Social Media, Believers, the Packers, etc.
- You can also do a search in Google Plus for “shared a circle with you” (leave it in the quotation marks). That will bring up posts of shared circles from all of the G+ users that posted their circles publicly. You will have to wade through a lot of data, but it is worth it.
- Another, much easier way to find shared circles is possible thanks to the creation of a public Google Doc. This frequently updated doc lists a massive array of publicly shared circles. The circles are labeled with keywords, number of members and name of the person who originally shared the circle. You can check it out at Shared Circles Google + Doc
- The final way to find shared circles is to go to the Google Plus page called Shared Circles on G+ Page. They also have a page for sharing business pages at G+ Business Pages Directory.
A good rule of thumb is to circle anywhere from 200 – 500 people to start. Not all are going to circle you back. You can circle me, drop me a line saying your found me from this article and I WILL circle you back. Guaranteed.
Communities are phenominally powerful. You can read all about them here, on SocialNotz, or in my article for Steamfeed.
If you are interested in Social Media, you should visit our Social Media Mentors community on Google. It has a powerful membership pof over 2,000 social media professionals who mentor small businesses and individuals. Our goal is to give back to the online community by sharing our vast knowledge of marketing and digital media.
Create and curate
Talk about what interests you by creating fresh content or curating interesting content, then posting it to your profile. Be sure to make your posts “public” so that everyone can see them. Otherwise, they will be limited to your circles. Frequent posting is the best way of finding like-minded people to interact with. You can share videos, pictures, articles, quotes – basically anything you find of value.
Another great idea is to thoughtfully engage with other Plussers. Make comments, tag people in your comments by using the + sign in front of their name. Share other peoples content and be sure to tag them in your post. I don’t know a single writer worth their salt who is not interested in what people think about their work. If you like something, but don’t want to share it with your audience, you can simply give it a virtual thumbs up by hitting the +1 button.
The benefits of creating a strong presence on Google+ for yourself and your brand cannot be overemphasized. To emphasize this, this survey by Hitwise reports that Google has the #1 mobile website overall in the US and dominates 5 of the top 10 mobile sites: Google, Gmail, News, YouTube and Maps. Given that mobile internet usage is set to surpass desktop usage by 2014, I think following Google’s lead is a wise investment for your time…especially when you can invest as little as 30 minutes a day.
Please join us in the Social Media Mentors Google+ community!
This article first appeared on SocialNotz
MARTIN SHERVINGTON — One of the Best Post on how to use Google+
Martin Shervington has a great blog article on how to use Google+ properly. Visit it here to view the videos and see some images not available below.
Marketing, Psychology & Google+ Insights
The key is in trying different things. The look and the message of your posts matter very much, but there are other variables too which you should be mindful of.
Here are a few suggestions on the practical elements as well as the psychology of posting on Google Plus.
A central feature to Google Plus, as the social destination, is the ability for content to be shared to individuals, circles, or public. When content is shared publicly you will often find it has the greatest ‘reach’, even leading to some content going viral as well.
NEW: Complete Guide to ‘Google Plus Posts and Photos’ (23 mins)
This video covers everything you need to know about ‘Posts and Photos’…
And for those who want to read more about it let’s kick off and learn the foundations to making a post on Google Plus. There are also tips on how to use Google Plus for social search engine optimization below as well…
The different types of posts
There are two types of post on Google Plus:
1. Public i.e. anyone can see the content and it could be found in Google Search, and
2. Private – who see this depends on with whom you share it with e.g. individuals, circles, etc. (see below)
Let’s now look at making a post itself…
How to make a post on Google Plus
The first thing you may like do is learn how to make a post just by adding in an image. You could just use text in the box, but adding an image gives the post a little more life.
You can do this just by ‘dragging and dropping’ one off your computer.
Or you can upload one from you Google+ photos by clicking ‘Your Google+ photos’…
Or, once you get to the next stream, you can upload one from Google Drive by clicking on the tab at the top.
From there you may like to look at using Google Plus as a way to write a fuller blog post.
How to make a longer post on Google Plus
Sometimes there is a problem on longer posts of it getting sent out prior to being finished and this section of this blog post will solve that issue. The video below covers the main points and process I follow.
Following this process you can still edit after the event but this way you a) make sure the people you want receive the post and b) you have the image on it exactly as you want.
Here you go…
1. Drop the image into the post – if you do this first, it makes sure you have an image on the post!
Otherwise, a post could be accidentally sent and you may well not be able to add in a photo afterwards.
2. Edit the image – if you use a programme within Google+, where it says add ‘edit image’ in Photo albums, or if you want to add on ‘text’ to the image, then do this next by dropping in the image…
As you can see, there is a small ‘T’ in a box – click this to just ‘add text’, like making a meme image.
Note: you can add in multiple images to make an album within the post.
4. Share as a ‘private post’ e.g. choose just a circle or email address if you want to interact with them for this particular post.
5. Click ‘send email’ if you want another way of getting attention – if you want people to receive an email for this circle, then you should tick the check box underneath the place for the circles to be added
And here is the key bit….
6. Then write the text – this way you can +theirname into the text and their name is added into the send box. Add in hashtags as well.
Here is the way to give the post some texture as well:
*BOLD* – adding asterixs either side of a word will make it bold
_ITALICS_ – adding underscores will make it italics
-STRIKETHROUGH- and adding a dash will create a ‘strikethrough’ the word
You can also use these in combination with one and other.
7. Press ‘Share’! – and you are flying…
Do this by clicking on the share button i.e. the small arrow…
Posting to a Google Plus Community
As a member of a community you can post into that community either from your profile, from within the community itself, from the ‘Share’ button in the upper right, from a Google+ Page that is a member of the community etc.
So to post to a community, choose from the drop down the name of the community, the category to which you want to post and then click ‘share’
Note: You cannot share to a community and ‘public’ at the same time -the reason being that if you could, the ‘comments’ within a community would be public and this breaches the integrity of community membership.
Also know you cannot share content ‘out of’ a private community
There is a Chrome Extension I’ve added called ‘DoShare’.
I don’t use it much myself but I know many people find it a great way to schedule their posts if they are not ‘there’ to click ‘share’.
Important to note: you will have to leave your Chrome browser open in order for it to work (and with your computer switched on, of course!)
Also, this extension is likely to reduce the space for people to fill in the first comments, until they click the box and it expands. This may alter engagement.
The reason to use hashtags in posts
Hashtags are a way for content to be ‘related’ to other content i.e. they say ‘this post is about’ or ‘this post relates to’ and as long as used authentically, people can search using just a hashtag and it will bring up a list of content that is similar.
You can also use hashtags as a way of indexing your own posts so you can find them later on more easily.
Google now selects hashtags automatically that it thinks could be relevant for that post. It even selects hashtags based upon the image e.g. a picture of the Eifell Tower will be ‘known’ and get tagged accordingly. Amazing development!
Key Point about ‘notifying’ people:
If you +theirname they will receive a notification, or if you send to ‘a circle’. Sometimes this is welcome, other times it will be seen as an intrusion. Especially if you notify people by email as well.
Sending ‘public’ does not notify people and is often the safest bet that gives the biggest reach, unless of course you want a specific message to go to a specific circle.
How to add links and videos to Google Plus posts
Next let’s look at how to embed links into Google Plus posts, and videos as well.
This is a very important part of Google Plus as it can really help to build up your audience on e.g. you website or blog.
How do the +1s in embedded link posts accumulate on a blog site?
If you are a blogger you will want to consider using embedded links from your site (as above) within Google Plus posts. Check out this to see why…
So, the +1s from your Google Plus post will accumulate and show up on your e.g. website.
What else can you embed as a link?
Well, you can add in content from Google Drive as well. Presentation, Good Docs, Spreadsheets, Google Forms…
As you can see below, here is a Google Form I shared and received a great amount of engagement, including the aim of people relating enough to fill it in. This is the great thing: people can simply click on the front image and the form appears within the Google Plus post.
To find out how to do this yourself, here is an article on how to use Google Forms to increase engagement.
How about when you don’t want people to share a post?
Sometimes you may want to restrict information being ‘shared’ onwards through Google Plus.
To do this by clicking on the drop down in the upper corner of a post…
Also, as you can see from the drop down, you can edit, delete, link to the post and even disable comments as well. Check out the video here for more…
Embedding posts in a website
Another feature on Google+ is the ability to take any public content (not community posts though) and embed it on your website.
To do this, click on the upper right of a post and then go to ‘embed post’
Once you’ve clicked it you will then see a box similar to the one below:
Then take that code and add it to your website.
For full instructions on this, check out this blog post.
Now you’ve learned the basics on posting, you may like to look at increasing your engagement.
How to dramatically increase engagement on Google Plus
Ok, so you are now posting on Google Plus but you want more engagement? Well, here is a video that will give you a load of hints and tips of ‘how’ to make your posts really fly (i.e. loads of comments, +1s and shares).
Here are some of the key hints and tips:
- Bold Headings It grabs the eye! Put * on either side of what you want to be emboldened. *Like such.*
- If there is loads of text, use could bold to draw the eye when someone is scanning (but not too much!)
- Pictures engage the senses and can be used to support a message. www.shutterstock.com is one place I find interesting images and am happy to pay them for the privilege. You can also engage the mind by using the image editing function on Google+ and e.g. asking text questions (as I have done here)
Also, I asked Google+ Help why certain images were appearing ‘large in the stream’ and they kindly responded with the following:
“These larger posts are frequently high resolution photos and videos. A variety of factors determine what becomes an enhanced post in your stream but we try to surface content and people that we think you wouldn’t want to miss.”
So, think high resolution then and you likely to have some more impact with images.
- Bullet points or numbers can help create ease of reading when there is a natural kind of list
- Mentioning people that are helping you out by +theirname when you write. This is a community based on mutual support and this is one way to show appreciation
- Editing your posts for spelling, grammar and formatting. People will be reluctant to forward to their circles as it makes them look bad!
- Length of posts – it depends on the subject, but too short and people may not get much value; too long and people could experience social risk (and won’t share them on as readily)
- Try to align a) headings, b) content and c) hashtags so they are relevant to each other (a basic Google principle – “relevance”)
- Making it personal, if you are sharing post you can add a message to your circlers about why/what/how you feel about the post you are sharing (this is shown at the top, above the post you share)This helps to set the frame.
The Science of tracking
When it comes to learning about Google Plus, the feedback you get is based upon the +1s, comments and shares you get. With many variables at play, you may like to consider some of the following…
Experiment: the time of day, the type of message, which Circles you share to all matter. Take note of the number of comments, shares and +1s your posts receive.
Create: opt in circles which you can notify – this will mean people tend to engage much better as you know they relate to the subject matter: article on creating opt in circles for Google Plus here.
“Ripples” – This will show how your post has spread throughout G+ and who has shared it. Thanks to +Denis Labelle for showing me how this will be the “future”. Going ‘around’ and looking at who is sharing ‘what’ will transform your approach. You start to make stronger connectons when you say ‘thank you’ as well, when people share.
Have you had a Ripplegasm?
Ripplegasm – Noun
Ripple – waves spreading across a surface
Well, you can guess that bit!
A groovy word to say when:
Your content (e.g. images/music/videos/writing) spreads across the Internet, giving you a high degree of pleasure.
e.g. As Larry’s meme images were shared more and more online, he started to have a ripplegasm (as you will see in the Urban Dictionary as well!)
Also engage with people and add them to specific circles -if look at the ripples and you can ‘go’ to their posts and say ‘thank you’ to each person who has shared. This builds the relationship and people appreciate it as well. You may also like to add people to circles where relevant as well.
This is a great way to find the engagers on a topic.
So, now you are posting and watching the ripples but what are the different ways a post can ‘fly’ (or not!)…
How a posts get shares is the evidence of relatability
There are several different patterns of posts when they are shared, and when you look at the number of views a post has had (when an image), you can then look at the rate of engagement as well.
You may find that some posts may fall into these categories below.
+1s but no shares – “No one likes a lonely post”
It is likely the longer a post goes without a share, the less likely it is other people will share either. The social risk to ‘show other people’ is too high, maybe as some people don’t want to start a conversation on things controversial e.g.
Loads of shares: “We just have to tell people about this one!”
a high share numbers but low +1s in comparison
A mix of +1s, comments and shares: “Not only do we relate, but we want to tell you by engaging in comments as well.”
A good mix of engagement, especially with comments being the way people are saying ‘we want to talk about this!’
If there were fewer shares but still a lot of comments, one may consider the post as provoking conversation but too risky for people to share onwards.
All in all… the longer a post is ‘left’ without much interaction, the odds are against it statistically ‘lifting off’.
You can tell this has happened (i.e. a post has ‘died on the vine’) when you look at the ‘views’ numbers and compare it to the +1s, comments, shares, and then relate it back to the number of people that person has in their network.
But worth noting: if an influencer with a relatable network picks up the post and e.g. shares it, then this could lead to lift off. Also if several influencers appear as images next to the +1, or make positive comments on the thread, this in turn could add to the ‘social status’ of a post and in turn influence other people to engage as well.
What’s Hot and Recommended
If you click on ‘Explore’ from with Google Plus you will step outside of the streams of content you have been building by adding in circles.
The content on this list will also usually makes its way into your stream, depending upon the settings.
But for our purposes now, we want to consider how a Google Plus post can get onto this list and what happens when it does.
So, putting this simply:
What happens? Well, the post steps out of your network and into the wider world. This means it gets more views that you would be able to give the post otherwise.
How does this happen? There is an algorithm, and the number of +1s, comments and shares all factor into a post jumping onto the hotlist.
Note: it will start by people from within your network relating and engaging to the content – without this, you won’t be able to ‘go over’ onto the list. BUT one key share could lead to several shares that in turn ‘push’ it over.
What else? Once you’ve cracked the algorithm, it is like a key in a lock and in future it is usually the case you will find it easier for content to go ‘hot’.
Some extra insights:
- Both posts from Profile and Google Plus Pages can go on the list
- Community posts can now go on the list
- Also, videos embedded within post will ‘go over’
- Presentations will go
- I have tried ‘Google Forms’ embedded in a post but they won’t go over (i.e. I have not succeeded to date)
- Longer posts are ‘more reluctant’ to go over – as such, you could always make a shorter post and add the remaining content in once it is on the list (I do this with Videos with long lists)
So, think of it like a key in a lock. The variables will change (unlike a key) but an appropriate mix of +1s, comments and shares at the right time of day may well lead to a most ‘going hot’.
Worth noting is that this is usually desirable as it helps posts go viral but when it comes to ‘Google Search’ results, key influencers in a certain subject sharing your content may have more weight than many other people sharing it. Going ‘hot’ is good but developing quality relationships within the Google Plus community may well support people looking in this direction.
Once you have experienced these different types of posts, including ‘cracking the code’ of ‘What’s hot and recommended’ you will get an idea of how people are likely to respond to your posts in the future. This is true for the non-hot list posts as well i.e. those from within your network in the future. If you are very organised you may like towrite notes on all the variables/create a spreadsheet or simply let the data form part of your view of what works and what doesn’t (based on your own criteria).
Evidence drives the show – Once you have built up and interpreted historic events, you can start to better judge the likely future scenarios when you post again. Maybe not a perfect science yet but better than guesswork!
Choosing keywords when sharing content
The words at the top of the post will act as a title on the post.
The content below it will act as a micro blog.
Both of these will get indexed by Google Search.
When you share ‘publicly’, in particular, and you have Google authorship set up, you will often find these Google+ posts appear in Google Search. As such, you may like to think about the keywords you are using in the title and the post itself. This tool will help you discover ‘who’ is looking for ‘what’ ‘where’ and ‘how’!
This is an integral part to looking at each post as having the potential for them to appear in Google Search, i.e. using Google Plus for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – click for a full article on the subject.
Google authorship is the process by which Google recognises that you have ‘authored’ certain content e.g. within Google Plus or on another website. Check out his article on Google Authorship here.
You can see an example in the Google Search results below where one of my articles appears with my image alongside. This applies the same to Google Plus posts as well.
Also, when you share someone’s content, you take up authorship of that content. It has a new URL that relates to your profile and your picture will appear alongside it. As such, this content, with you as the new author can appear in Google Search as well. Very powerful.
And know that the same principle will apply when you are re-sharing your own content but with different keywords. This can be a useful tactic to gain a web presence for a multitude of Google Keywords related directly to the content in the post itself, including the embedded link.
Also, you could add in additional text with keywords at the top of the post when you share other people’s content, or your own (as above). But when it comes to content you find on the web and then share within Google+ this is very important as well. To share without ‘adding value’ will be considered ‘link dumping’. Below is the alternative approach…
As you can see, the person sharing has added their own title and text, whilst using an embedded link. This way, if they are deemed to be an authority the subject, their post may well find itself indexed well within Google Search.
Want to understand comments in other languages?
Well, now you have the ability to translate ‘baked into’ Google+, making it easy to understand posts and comments in other languages.
As you can now see, there is a lot more to Google Plus posts than first meets the eye.
The main thing is to experiment and see who relates to ‘what’ content from within your network.
Once you get into the groove with posting you will find that content will get many more +1s, comments and shares, which is also great to see.