A blogging friend recently asked my advice for using Google Plus. She prefaced her question with, “Since you have over 10,000 followers.”
Well, I did pass 10,000 followers in May 2013 and in June Ramsay Tolpin, The Blog Tyrant, used some of my tips in his article 29 Essential Tips from the Tip Google Plus Geeks. But to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I did it. I certainly did not set out to gain five digits worth of spots in different people’s circles.
I merely enjoy Google Plus (Google+, G+).
My guess is that what gained me 10,000 followers was simply using Google Plus regularly with the the best practices I share here. (For reference, I joined G+ in August 2011. So it took me 21 months to cross the 10K mark.)
Make it Easy to Use
You are not going to use a platform that you forget about. So when you decide to invest in Google+, make it easy on yourself. Place a visible bookmark in your browser. Place it right beside those networks that you already have the habit of checking so that G+ becomes part of your daily social media routine.
Install the +1 extension (Chrome/Firefox) so that you can easily tell Google what kinds of content you like. Use it liberally. Remember, you can +1 an article or blog post without sharing it. I can’t help but think that every article you +1 works to indicate the kind of person you are in the eyes of Google. I like to +1 excellent articles in the niches that I want Google to consider me an expert in. But I +1 any kind of valuable content. I don’t want to appear like a robot. So recipes and craft ideas are mingled with more professional areas.
Put the G+ app on your smart phone, and use it. Check in each morning or night; scroll through and find a few things to +1. And be sure to comment. Just stalking is not enough. You need to interact so that people find you. When you +1 something, your tiny icon does show up, but when you comment, you get far more exposure in terms of screen space and hopefully your well-chosen words cause people to want to follow you.
If you are a heavy Google user, you will see your notifications throughout the day. I use both Gmail and Google Drive, so I am constantly reminded of G+ with the red notification icon in the top right-hand corner. When I see the red number, I remember to check in, +1 comments people leave on my shares, and interact in communities.
As soon as I learned you can use hashtags on G+, I implemented them very deliberately, especially a few key hashtags in my niche I want to be associated with. Hashtags are searchable; click one to see. I want Google to know that I’m an authority in a couple of key areas, so I use those hashtags repeatedly. I also want others to be able to find me via those hashtags.
Now G+ is automatically adding relevant hashtags to your posts. But you can still add your own.
Periodically, I check what is being posted with my favorite hashtags by clicking on it or using the search function. I typically find new people to follow and new content to enjoy when I do that.
I do not automatically circle back. I have lots of people circle me. And to be honest, I have no idea who most of those 10,000 people are. (I often wonder how they even find me!) Many of them probably are not very active G+ users. And the vast majority do not interact on my posted content. You can see the notification screeenshot from my iPhone app below, that I have a wide variety of people circling me. I don’t have anything in common with these people, so I don’t circle them back.
In general, I don’t care who circles me. Sometime I spy a creep that I need to block, but for the most part, I let strangers alone. If they want to follow my public content, it is no problem for me. I do not, however, circle them in return unless they have a common interest and appear to have valuable or interesting content.
One of my goals on G+ is to have the most comprehensive circle of homeschool moms. So anytime I find one, I add her to my circle no matter what kind of content she posts or how active she is. Then I periodically share that circle with others (adding myself to it first). Sharing this circle sets me up as an expert in my niche. I have curated a large pool of homeschool moms on Google +, and people appreciate being able to locate them through my circle.
I do not circle people without avatars or without any About information. I often look at their latest posts to see if they interest me. If I think there is potential, I circle, knowing if the content begins to annoy me, I can uncircle or move to a more relevant circle later.
Unlike other social platforms, on G+ people do not know when you have uncircled or which circle you have placed them in. Therefore, you have no pressure to circle people just to reciprocate. I keep my own G+ stream limited to things I really enjoy. The fact that I keep my G+ experience narrowed to the fields I enjoy reading about is probably why I like it so much.
I am liberal with +1-ing content on G+ that I like. But I also try to leave comments (with hashtags where appropriate). I am not commenting only for SEO benefit although I know that is a perk to being on G+. I truly have something to say and want to interact. Being genuine is always the key to success on any social media platform.
If someone shares a post I like, I am more likely to comment on G+ than on the original article even if the person sharing it is the author. I find it more convenient for one, and I like the fact that I am building my reputation on G+and possibly finding new people to circle as they see and interact with my comment.
Commenting on G+ makes you more visible and gains more followers. Plus it’s more enjoyable to discuss great content than to mull it over by myself.
Your Google Plus Frustrations
It seems that many of my peers and clients find Google Plus mysterious. They want to have a presence there, but they don’t know how or even exactly why they should. I’d love to know what questions you have about Google Plus. I’ve created a very short survey to get your feedback. Knowing your thoughts about Google Plus will help me write blog posts to help you.