When Google debuted their social media platform in the summer of 2011, there were many who were skeptical about its ability to build a long term, engaged audience. Facebook and Twitter were dominating the landscape and newcomer Pinterest’s popularity was growing. While Facebook, Twitter and newer sites like Instagram dominate the current social media landscape, Google+’s importance cannot be denied.
According to WeAreSocial, Google+ currently has 359 million active users and over a billion registered users. Those numbers are only growing, especially when you consider Google+’s impact on search. Since it’s a Google product, posting relevant content regularly on Google+ can improve your search engine rankings, particularly as an individual author. As an author with a Google+ profile, when you post a high volume of relevant content, your picture may appear next to search results. That can increase your readership dramatically.
The potential for success on Google+ is great, but building a following as an individual or a business can be challenging. You must fight social media fatigue and perceptions that it’s not as viable a platform as others. However, a targeted and consistent approach to building an audience on Google+ can pay tremendous dividends.
In this two-part series, we will give best practices for building a following on Google+. When producing this list, I realized quickly that methods for creating an audience on this platform fall into two categories:
- Audience outreach – Google+ works similarly to Twitter in that you can follow as many people as you want in the hopes that they may follow you back.
- Content creation – There are number of nuances that allow you to use your content to engage current followers and draw new ones.
In the first part we will focus on audience outreach tips:
Add as many people to your circles as possible: As we mentioned earlier, Google+ works similarly to Twitter in that you can follow people without requesting permission. So it’s important to add as many people to your circle as you can because they are instantly notified when you’ve added them. This is a great way to get their attention and potentially build your Google+ following. As with any strategy, targeting is key. Make sure that the people you are adding are people that can benefit from having you in one of their circles. If they can clearly see a benefit, the likelihood of getting added to their circles is much greater. One of the best ways to add followers is through the Explore tab. Explore allows you to see what’s trending on Google+ and search for people who share your desired interests.
Engage with the content of others: To get people to follow you and engage with your content, it’s critical to engage with their content first. There are two ways to do this. Google+ gives you the ability to show approval for someone’s content by clicking the “+1” button. The +1 button is Google+’s answer to Facebook “likes” or Twitter’s “favorite” button. The person who posts the content is notified when you give them a “+1.” You can also engage with others’ content by leaving a comment, which is even more powerful.
Post content to your circles: When posting content in Google+, you have the option to make your posts public or to send them to the various circles that you’ve created. When you post content to your specific circles, members of those circles can receive a notification of your content. This is a powerful engagement tool and must be used judiciously. Only post your best or most important content when doing this.
Get active in communities: Google+ has communities for most industries and interests. Join them! It will give you an opportunity to communicate with a smaller, more targeted group that is looking to connect. By engaging community members and posting content in these groups, you can quickly grow your profile as a subject matter expert. Google+ communities are tremendous learning tools as well.
Ask for +1’s: Sometimes you just have to ask for what you want. Asking for +1’s on your content is not a complicated strategy and some may say that it’s a little desperate but when someone gives you a +1 for your post, it shows up in their feeds. It’s an easy way to pick up a few more followers.
Share company content on your personal profile: The interesting thing about Google+, at this point, is that people will more readily follow other people than they will brands. This is due, in part, to the fact that Google+ accounts are tied to Gmail accounts, which are plentiful. People often get added to circles without much consideration. So if you have a personal and a company profile, your personal one will likely have more followers in the beginning. Take advantage of this by occasionally sharing posts from your company profile on your personal profile.
What underlies all of these tips is the importance of targeting potential followers and knowing specifically what you’d like to provide to them. The closer you can match what content you are offering to the people who are looking for it, the greater success you will have.
In our next blog post, we will discuss how companies can utilize content to build a following on Google+.
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