Top Ten Insider Tips for Google+ Success
Google+ is an incredible platform for business. People and Brands can use Google+ to connect with a wide audience in any number of unique ways. It’s that uniqueness, though, which also makes Google+ a bit of challenge for some.
I first started using Google+ when it launched in 2011. For the first year, I did everything wrong. I spammed links and focused on follower count, and failed to realize the opportunities that I was wasting. Fortunately, a couple years ago, things changed. I developed a new strategy and playbook, one that’s worked tremendously well over the years. It has allowed me to grow my business and make incredibly valuable connections, and it’s worked for my readers and clients as well.
As someone who has not only used but also studied and written about Google+, here are my Top Ten Insider Tips for finding success for your business on Google+.
- Use a Cover Photo that plays well on your Hovercard.
- Organize your most important circles by Volume.
- Circle people posting Great content.
- Select just one or two communities to Dive into.
- Use your Story section to Suggest circles for others to put you in.
- Pay attention to the topics that Resonate with your audience.
- Style and Format your posts to pique interest and encourage discussion.
- Participate in HOAs that fit your expertise and audience.
- Don”t be afraid to Promote other people and businesses.
- Don’t forget to have Fun!
Use a Cover Photo that plays well on your Hovercard.
One of the most interesting aspects of Google+ is that of the Hovercard. Whenever your Google+ profile name appears within Google+, other users can hover over your name and see, not just your profile image, but a card that leads off with your cover photo and includes additional information from your profile.
In fact, according to Google+ expert Stephan Hovnanian, your Hovercard appears in over 20 locations throughout the Google universe.
It’s so important, in fact, that time should be spent working on your Google+ cover photo and considering how it looks when viewed as part of your Hovercard. Is the image clear? Have you added text to the image to help communicate who you are and what you do? Is the text too small, or cut off? Make sure that your cover photo looks great full-size, as well as when viewed as part of your Hovercard, and you’ll make a much stronger impression with new or potential connections.
Organize your most important circles by Volume.
When you’re circling other people on Google+ you have the option of putting them into one or more circles. While it’s easy to create circles based on topics or types of relationships, my preferred method for organization starts with circles by volume.
You see, each circle that you create within Google+ can have it’s own settings with regard to how much of the activity from the members of that circle gets into your Home stream. You can always view just the posts from a specific circle, but when you first log into Google+, you’ll be viewing your Home stream and all of the designated activity from your circled connections. But each individual circle can have their volume turned up or down, or off completely. The levels are:
And you can turn notifications on or off, or just turn off whether the posts are in your Home stream. Therefore, I have a Notify Me circle, as well as circles for More and Standard and Fewer and then my Following circle doesn’t display in my Home stream at all.
With this system, I can decide how much I want to see from someone based on the circle I add them to. If I like what they’re posting, I may even bump them up to a more active level. And for those elite contributors, those people whom I want to know every time they post, they get into my Notify Me circle.
I still have circles for other purposes like topics, geographic areas, and other select groups, but those are largely silent and removed from my Home steam. As a result, every time I log into Google+, my stream is filled with incredible content and interesting dialogue.
Circle people posting Great content.
Which leads me to my next point: make sure that you’re circling great people with great content! Those who are in your More and Standard circles should be sharing posts daily (or more often) that are on-point and very topical for you. In other words, they should be peers and influencers talking about your industry and niche. These posts will be more interesting to you, and are a great source of content you can curate and share with your own audience.
Select just one or two communities to Dive into.
When it comes to communities on Google+, there’s no end to the number of topics and opportunities. And where there may be a perceived lack of activity in your niche, that’s easily rectified by creating and promoting your own community.
Which means, though, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and over involved! While there’s no limit to the number of communities you can join, my advice is to pick a select few to pay attention to and engage with.
Just as with your circles, you can dictate whether or not you want posts from any given community to appear in your Home stream (as well as get notifications). This is a great way to either stay on top of community activity, or at least give yourself opportunities to catch a few posts as you’re sifting through your stream.
Use your Story section to Suggest circles for others to put you in.
While the label story may suggest giving profile visitors your biography, savvy Google+ users take advantage of that space to more creatively speak to potential prospects or partners. You can be conversational, informative, empathetic you can include links and formatting, and write quite a bit.
One interesting technique is to let people know how they might circle you. Give them some topical suggestions which serves two purposes:.
- You help frame the content of your typical posts.
- You prompt profile viewers to take a logical next step.
Give it a try! Your new connections will appreciate it.
Pay attention to the topics that Resonate with your audience.
While you may have an idea for the general topics that you write and talk about, over time, you’ll find that there are specific points of interest that your growing audience is more interested than other. Sometimes the response will be obvious. Some of your posts will get far more +1’s, comments and shares than others, and you’ll need to make a note of that post’s focus so that you can revisit the topic in the future.
Many times, though, the response won’t leave such a lasting impact. For those, there are great tools like CircleCount and Steady Demand which can help you more definitively identify and measure your most effective posts and topics. We’ll dive into these and other great Google+ tools in future articles.
Style and Format your posts to pique interest and encourage discussion.
Beyond the post topic, another factor which can really impact the success of your posts is formatting. Google+ allows you to bold, italicize, and add white space. You can add special symbols and of course attach large images.
Start with adding a bold title to kick off a post. It will bring attention to your post, focus your audience, and be the first thing people see in their Google+ Notification Pane if they get any notifications about your post.
From there you can add white space and bullet points and stress sections, making your entire Google+ post look and read like a mini blog post. Because the Google+ platform and culture favors discussion and engagement, nicely styled long-form posts can perform far stronger than shorter, simple posts. (Which is completely contrary from Facebook, so do not mirror activity from one platform to the other.)
Participate in HOAs that fit your expertise and audience.
Once you’ve established a pattern for your posts and have begun to connect with your audience, it’s time to hit the big time. Google+ Hangouts On Air. HOAs, as they’re popularly called, are live video events in the Google+ platform. Up to ten people participate in the on-air discussion, while an unlimited number of viewers watch from the Google+ Event page and share comments. HOAs are simulcast and recorded to YouTube, creating incredibly rich and powerful content and audience connections.
While many people and brands can and should consider hosting their own HOAs, the real secret is to find other people’s HOAs to participate in. Like guest blogging, being a guest panelist can be an extraordinary opportunity to introduce yourself and connect with other people’s audiences.
Start by looking for regular HOAs that fit your business and industry. These are shows, just like on television, that occur at the same time and have the same host(s) and devoted audience. A great example is The Mia Connect Show, hosted by Mia Voss, which normally airs on Fridays at 10am MT.
The Google+ Event interface lets you indicate if you’re going to attend the event, which automatically puts it into your Google Calendar. At the time of the event, just go to the event page and the video stream will start as soon as the broadcast begins. Once the HOA starts, you can listen to the host and guests, read comments from the rest of the audience, and jump in with your own comments and questions whenever you feel comfortable.
Great HOA hosts like Mia pay very close attention to who is attending their shows and who is participating and commenting. In fact, the hosts have a special interface within the HOA that they can use to display a comment live on the broadcast, so be aware that if you make a great comment or ask a compelling question, it may be shared Live!
Like commenting on other blog posts, if you’re consistent in your activity and provide real value, you’ll make a positive impression on the host. In time, hosts will begin to talk to you about being on the show and providing a more concentrated amount of your expertise, so be ready for that! Once you begin to regularly guest on HOAs, your Google+ presence and authority will skyrocket.
Don’t be afraid to Promote other people and businesses.
While on HOAs and in your normal Google+ posts, don’t be afraid to promote others. Mention other Google+ people and brands that your audience would benefit from following.
But I get that this can be problematic for some. Some business owners aren’t comfortable with promoting peers or colleagues who may be potentially competition. And by no means am I suggesting that you should promote someone who is a direct competitor. Instead, look for people and brands whom you can comfortably talk about and share their posts without feeling as though you’re sending prospects across the street.
One of my favorite ways to promote others is when I’m guesting on an HOA. I love using some of my favorite peers and colleagues as examples, rather than just talking about myself for 30-60 minutes. Look for such opportunities whenever possible.
Don’t forget to have Fun!
And of course, at the end of the day, while social media marketing does need to meet business goals, it should be fun as well! The conversations that you have and the people that you meet should enrich and enliven your day. I say this, not just for your own enjoyment, but for your audience as well. Mix in some fun and humor in your posts and your fans will appreciate it.
Success on Google+ will not happen overnight. Nothing worthwhile ever does. But if you consistently work to incorporate and improve on these techniques, you will find success. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you won’t miss any more great articles like this, covering not just social media, but also business building, monetization and more.
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