Your Google Plus (G+) hover card is the first impression people have of you inside G+. Well, actually your profile image is the very first impression. When G+ users mouse over your profile image in posts or comments you make, they can see your hover card pop up.
Go test it out. Visit Google Plus and hover over anyone’s profile image. See the hover card appear?
Besides being a mini-profile, this hover card has the option for adding a person to a circle. While some people probably click over to your full About tab, most people probably make a split second decision based on what they see in that hover card. This is the moment of truth when it comes to gaining followers.
None of us want followers just for the sake of having a huge number on our profile. That serves no purpose. But having targeted followers, people who have a connection to you in some area, is the foundation of social networking, especially if you are using G+ for business purposes. (And you should be using G+ to build your business even if you dislike the platform personally.)
I encourage you to invest time on G+ to post, comment, +1, and join discussions in groups. But don’t neglect optimizing your own hover card so that you are making that powerful first impression which moves people to add you to their circles (or even reach out to you for projects).
The Anatomy of a Google Plus Hover Card
You won’t find any settings on G+ for editing your hover card because it is automatically created from elements in your profile. So let’s analyze where these parts come from and how you can optimize them to your benefit.
Of course, your cover image appears at the top with your profile image in a circle. But let’s zero in on the words underneath. There are four possible lines of text on your hover card below your name. None of these are labeled on your actual hover card, but I’m referring to them based on where the content is pulled from your profile.
If any of these areas are blank in your profile, they will not appear on the hover card at all. So you may have zero, one, two, three, or all four of these possible parts depending on how thoroughly your profile is filled out.
Tagline (#4 in diagram)
Where to Edit: On your profile under Story → Tagline.
The first line on your hover card is the first 34 to 40 characters (it varies) from your tagline. Use an online character counter to help you narrow down your essential keyword descriptions into that tiny character allowance.
Put the most important words first, and write concisely, realizing that the hover card can’t show much and that you have the entire Introduction section to be verbose.
Avoid inspirational quotes because they are too abstract to help people make a good choice about circling you and what circle to put you in. Your blog or business tagline may or may not work here.
Use words that would attract the kind of people you want following you on G+. Use the keywords that you want to be known for in the eyes of your readers, your customers, and Google.
Works at (#5 in diagram)
Where to Edit: On your profile under Work → Employment; tick current.
The second line on your hover card is your current employment. (Current must be ticked in order for this to show.)
Your employment line will not hyperlink, but it can be a URL. If you are a blogger, I suggest your blog URL there. If you are a business owner, put the name or URL of your business.
Education (#6 in diagram)
Where to Edit: On your profile under Education; tick current.
This is great for students, but a wasted line for those of us not still in school. Like employment above (and places below), you must tick current in order for your education details to show on the hover card.
However, anyone can take advantage of this line by putting whatever you want into a field on the education tab and ticking current.
Use this as a way to get another website URL into your hover card or some other important information. Yes, it’s not technically correct to use the education field in this way. But since the hover card doesn’t have labels on the information, it doesn’t look obvious to people viewing it. Over on your profile page, however, your current education field will show up as an overlay on your cover image as “Attends [your data].” So make sure it’s not too strange.
Lives in (#7 in diagram)
Where to Edit: On your profile under Places; tick current.
The last potential line on your hover card is your current location. If you want to be found locally, this is very important. But even if all of your work is online and your location doesn’t matter, it can help people know what time zone you are in so that they can call you at appropriate hours.
How I Optimized My Own Hover Card
In preparing this blog post, I realized that my own hover card needed some serious attention.
1. I changed my tagline from this behemoth 57 characters [homeschool mom; social media consultant; writer & blogger] to this svelte 37 character beauty
[social media ¦ homeschool ¦ blogging]. Now it all shows up and points to three keywords that are most important to me.
2. I wasn’t taking advantage of the education line, so I added my own professional website jimmielanley.com to the education section and ticked current. Now I am using every possible line on my hover card.
3. I realized that my short cover image was appearing really ugly on the hover card. It was an image of wisteria blooms but because I purposely made it shorter than the recommended size, it didn’t look its best for this first impression. As much as I dislike the massive cover image, I reverted back to the standard size with an image from a Yellowstone vacation a few years ago.
Now It’s Your Turn
Go to your G+ posts page and hover over your profile image. What does your hover card look like? Have you capitalized on each possible line of text? Is your tagline awkwardly truncated or too vague to help potential followers? Ten minutes of time spent on your profile today will lead to more targeted followers on Google Plus when you optimize your hover card.
[NOTE: The screenshots and explanations here refer to a hover card in desktop view. Mobile G+ apps show a modified hover card without any tagline.]