I just started using Google plus a few weeks ago. Honestly, I am nowhere near being able to call myself an expert. But, I have been doing social media for four years. I write my own blogs, tweets, posts, discussion questions, and I notice what works, with who, and why. I read a lot of materials for Google+ on the internet. The advice was similar wherever I went. You need to follow relevant people, plus other people’s content, join communities, comment on other people’s posts, blah, blah, blah. This advice is not bad advice, but here’s some really good advice.
Advice on commenting
Or should I say, my comments on commenting. As a general rule, commenting on other people’s material is a way to get noticed on social media. Most people write really witless comments that just take up space. When you see a beautiful photo posted on one of those travel sites, the comments are very predictable as well: “Oh, it’s so beautiful, I wish I could be there right now.” Commenting on Google+ will get you noticed, and will get you new followers, but slowly. If I spend an hour commenting, perhaps I’ll get around three followers as a result. I do recommend commenting on content that is very relevant and meaningful to you. Commentary should be done if you can’t stop yourself from doing it. I wouldn’t just comment on content for the sake of commenting as that is not an efficient use of your time.
I spent a lot of time plussing one day. I went through feeds for all types of topics that interested me. Most of the feeds were based on business oriented keywords. I plussed the posts that I thought were worth having Google put in the spotlight. Plussing looks easy, but you have to read a lot to figure out what to plus if you want to give honest plusses. And there is no greater minus than a plus that lacks integrity! The day that I spent about an hour plussing only yielded me about three followers.
Posting is a great way to get seen in keyword feeds. I don’t know how many people bother to read keyword feeds. But, Google+ seems to be set up to be more focused on keyword specific searches rather than just seeing the posts from random followers that you have accumulated over time. Google makes it convoluted to see the posts of your followers. You have to lookup a keyword with a # sign to even get the option. So, it makes sense to post a few articles per day and use different keywords. The point is to show up in all of the keyword feeds that are relevant to your business. So, make a list, and make sure you are always showing up. If that means posting 20 times a day, then maybe you should! Choose your content wisely. I do not have a metric for how many followers I can get in an hour of posting, because I only spend a few minutes per day posting content. The result you get from posting depends on your “reach.” If many people will see the post, then you might get some results. See my section on communities as that is a way to get instant reach (which is a marketing term.)
Keyword searches are pretty self explanatory on Google+. But, if you do a search, you might be able to query posts from your followers, specific circles or discovery (fun.) Unfortunately, most of the people I follow post dismal material. I only follow them because they are industry specific. The people I actually like, I put in the VIP circle, and they are in different industries ranging from general business, to photography, to social media, and call centers. The problem with the way Google+ is set up is that you will not see what your followers are posting unless you go out of your way to see it.
There is a daily limit on following people which is about 30-45 people per day. I don’t have an exact count and it might change depending on how much the Google gods like you. Unfortunately, my experience has been that only 10% of relevant people I have followed will follow me back. Twitter’s follow back rate is more like 15-30% on relevant follows, so 10% is very slow by my standards. On the other hand, it is very quick to follow forty people per day, and if four will follow you back, then you have something. You might spend fifteen minutes to get your four members through following. That is a more efficient use of your time than plussing or commenting.
I have read on the internet that there are share circles. You have to repost content that is in these circles, and then others will repost your content as well. You can look up the term “share circle Google+” on the internet to learn more. I don’t like the idea of this system because it will not get you relevant followers. But, this is a way to get followers in a hurry.
The problem with starting out on Google+ is that nobody knows you and most people don’t want to know you. It’s a bit like being an unpopular kid in Junior High School. I’ve been there. Communities are a fast way to solve this problem in many ways. In my opinion, communities on Google+ are the fastest way to grow your account. I spent 20 minutes posting quality content on a dozen or more communities today, and got six followers as a result. That is a lot faster than commenting, plussing or general posting. The reason is that when you post on a community’s board, your post actually gets seen, and by relevant people!
Strategies for community posting.
(1) Find relevant communities and post content in them once per day in the larger communities and once every several days in the smaller communities. You might need a list of which communities to contact and when. Targeting relevant communities might not be as easy as you think. There are different niches that might be compatible with your general business model. Each different community might need a slightly different type of post. So, you might be advised against posting the same post in all communities.
(2) Finding large communities can be good.
When you post a regular post on Google+, you have the right to make your post public, sent to a particular circle, to all your circles or to your extended community which could include one, several, or all of the communities that you have joined. The beauty of this is that someone with zero followers can post some quality content, and it can be seen by millions of people — if you have joined a few dozen large communities. Unfortunately, Google+ is the new kid on the block as far as successful social media platforms go. Their communities are generally fairly small. There are only about two dozen large communities, and those tend to focus widely on photography, travel, and a few geeky topics. Even if you are in the empanada folding industry, you could post a few beautiful travel photos that you are sharing or retweeting — and you could share those with five million others by being a member of large groups. Just don’t abuse your privilege because you could get banned from these groups if you do.
(3) You won’t really be seen by millions, here’s how it works
I am not an expert at the Google+ search result algorithm. But, if you do a search in your account, you might have the option to search your circles, discover, or on the left there is an “all” link. I’m not sure how many people actually click on that link. But, if five million people are “getting” your post (whatever that means,) they might be able to see it if they click all. The all link, based on my very quick research, displays content from those you follow on top. But, if you dig down ten or more posts, you start seeing content from strangers mixed in. I’m not sure how they determine which stranger’s posts get put down there, or why, but your post might get a chance to be in the all section if you contact your extended community.
To sum up this article, to grow fast on Google+ is to:
FOLLOW — the maximum amount of people per day
COMMUNITIES — Post a lot of content on communities.
POST — I also recommend posting around seven posts on your main page per day. Posts with beautiful photos will do better, and you can also share other people’s posts with breathtaking photography to break the monotony of your industry specific content on empanada folding, the best music to listen to while doing empanada folding, and top empanada folders in California.
You can do a little plussing and commenting on the side to get your name out there and be social. Google also learns about you and what you like when you plus things, so you are sort of compelled to do a few minutes of plussing per day whether you like it or not. But, the top three activities are listed above. One last tip. Just make your hands are clean after folding all of those empanadas, particularly the lamb ones.