The 7 Pillars that you build for your Google+ success will stand you in great stead forever as Google will likely dominate the internet for a long long time.
Google + ( or G+ as most would call it) is now the 2nd most popular social networking platform in 2013 overtaking Twitter for that position. People always look puzzled and confused when hearing this because they just don’t “get” how this network works.
G+ is not Facebook or Twitter and should not be considered or used as if they are. If you do, you’ll become frustrated and put off by the network within a few days of use. Instead, consider Google Plus a new network with all new people to connect with who have all new connections available at your fingertips.
G+ is extremely powerful for networking because it is built with discovery in mind. You can quickly find new content with a search in the navigation bar and instantly connect and interact with anyone you want, including commenting, sharing their content, and much more.While Google Profiles represent people, Google Pages represent entities, including concepts, brands, fan pages, hobbies and other services. Pages allow businesses and brands to be found easily on different channels and have the potential to establish them as authorities or thought leaders of an industry. The key is to be transparent, unique and proactive.
Page Owners can interact with their audience in much the same way as Profile Owners. In both the cases, there is only one rule. Engage – creatively, consistently and collaboratively. Page owners and managers can also Circle people, start Communities, make Link, Image and Video posts, host Hangouts on Air, and utilize other interactive tools and social signals to connect with their audience.
Lets dive into how G+ can help you and your business.
Here is a video interview that you will find extremely worthwhile when getting started
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Pillar 1 – Impression, Details, & Photos
One of the most important things that businesses need to do with both their personal profiles and Google+ business pages is fill out all of the details. Don’t think of Google+ as just another social profile. Think about it as your first contact point with a new client.
Have all of your contact details and links to your most important online places, including your website, top pages on your website (products or services), blog and main social profiles (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).
Once this is completed, consider taking advantage of Google’s massive cover photo which is 1160px x 655px wide. You can be very creative with this cover photo by including contact information, website, interests, taglines, and much more.
Pillar 2 – G+ Tools
Search Google+ for mentions of your brand and industry-related keywords. Save your searches and they will appear on your left sidebar for quick reference. Monitor your saved searches daily and respond to mentions, comment on threads and reshare people’s posts that are related to your niche, topic, or things that interest you.
Use the Google+ search feature and save your searches. Even if you have nothing to say, a +1 lets them know that you’re paying attention, as a great social brand should be. It will also act as an excellent bookmarking tool for you and others. Just click on the +1 button on your or others’ home page to see what you have clicked on around the web recently.
G+ URL Shortener
Make your profile easier to access using http://gplus.to/ to make a short URL. As an example, an interest of mine is all things dealing with Tigers (the animal). I created a community built around this magnificent animal and then used gplus.to to create the link http://gplus.to/TigerOfTheDay which takes you to https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101937560478130137144. Which URL would you prefer?
When you add a person to circles, you are making an direct connection with that person and their content. If you add someone to circles, their content instantly appears on your main content stream at https://plus.google.com/. By default, everyone your circle will have their content appear on the main stream until you fine-tune your circles.
It is a good idea to create circles around topics that interest you. If you create multiple topical circles, you can go back later and set all people in circles to show up more, standard, less, or not at all on your main stream which is a powerful tool when you start circling more and more people. Trust me when I say, start by creating topical circles that interest you now and save yourself hours or work later on.
If you are a “wide” networker, you can use Google+ in many ways. Create circles on a micro level. Work on a business-by-business basis, adding names to client businesses and brands, each of which has their own circle. You can also add names to “influencer” circles, which will help you connect with people in your field whom you want to meet online.
If you are starting out, start searching for circle shares within the community. A great way to liven up your dead stream is to add a few circle shares that interest you. One of my favorite things to do is add “engagers” circle shares because these people were found to engage in content by the author and if you add them to your circles, you have a chance for them to add you back, thus opening up your content to be engaged with by these same people.
A community I created for awesome circle shares is my hyperball circle shares community. You can join this community and browse the circle share options by going to http://gplus.to/Hyperball. I’m always working to add new topical shares that will help people find G+ users that mean something to them.
Many tools in our tools section can also be used for Google Plus such as hashtag popularity tools so be sure to check that section out as well.
Pillar 3 – What Content Should You Post
Once you have 500 or so engaging people following you, it is time to start posting interesting content. Photos with content work best because the photo draws the eye of the user and then they read your content above the photo to find out more about that photo. Use this to your advantage.
As an example, if your are a pet store that offers pets for adoption, consider posting pictures of the animal along with more information on how to adopt. Beyond that, find interesting pictures of all animals on the Internet and share them with a description of the photo along with a 1-2 blurb about your business.
The more you can get people to share your pictures and content, the more exposure your business will receive. Even if you do not actively promote your business to begin with, as you build your reputation as an active G+ user, you can slowly integrate your business information into your posts. I try to follow an 70/20/10 rule which is 70% engaging content with no advertising what-so-ever, 20% content with mild mentions of your business (maybe a URL at the bottom of an awesome photo you found, or a business hashtag), and 10% outright blatant advertising of your business (don’t expect many to engage these).
Pillar 4 – How to Socialize Most Effectively on Google+
I’ve created a circle called Influential on my G+ account that I have set to appear most often in my main stream. Anytime I see a post from these people, I try to engage by using +1 on all comments I agree with, I +1 their post, and then I engage in conversation in the comments.
Beyond that, when you see comments under the influential people you follow that you constantly agree with, you should check them out and consider adding them to circles as well. When you circle them, they get a notification that you’ve added them, and once you build a good reputation on the network, you’ll notice more and more following you back. If I find people really interesting, I immediately comment in about 10 posts, +1 their content like crazy, and even share a post or two with my audience. This works extremely well to get a circle back because people appreciate those who comment and share.
Consider communities. There are often times on G+ when my feed is too slow to engage with people. At these times, I turn to my subscribed topical communities and start posting there as often as I can. When you add value to the conversation, you will be seen more often and more circle you.
You can see how from my graph how +Michael Q Todd and I have been followed quite heavily in the past few months by using this simple strategy.
Pillar 5 – Be Real, Be Personal, & Show Real Life Events
People connect with real people with real content. If your profile picture is a logo, change it immediately to your face. If this is a business page, consider a photo of you with your logo in the background. Nobody likes talking to a logo or brand.
Establish your local presence with Google Check-ins and reviews. When you are at a restaurant and having a meal, consider writing a review with your honest experience along with your rating. These reviews end up under G+ Local which shows local restaurant reviews and ratings.
Here are some suggestions you can use to immediately build circles that will suit your needs. Especially when acting as a page.
Brand Leaders – You would place people who command a following on Google Plus that are well respected in your niche. Another name for this would be called “Influencers.”
Managers – This circle would be used to place all of your page managers. It really becomes useful because you can make a private post from the page with this group selected to start a private discussion.
Customers – Placing all of your customers in a special circle will allow you to track a person when they are sharing in their stream. If you come across a post by a customer in Google Plus, you’ll immediately see the green “Follow” button show “Customers” and you’ll know they are/were a client.
Competition – As they say, keep your friends close but your enemies closer. I frequently circle and monitor my competition in their own circle group just to keep an eye out for trends I should be sharing.
Engagers – These are people who frequently comment, share, and plus your content. Consider rewarding these people with special offers. Another name you could consider would be Advocates, Friends, or Fans.
News – If there are major news outlets for your niche that share/post content to Google Plus regularly, you will want to include them in this circle so that you can follow trends, share posts to your page, and more.
Following – People that are following you that you’d like to simply follow back. Keep this circle hidden from your stream.
Remember, you can add a person to multiple circles on your page
Use Google Check-ins constantly to check-in to your favorite places around your city. Check-ins are shown on your main feed but are customizable to only appear to certain circles. Although there isn’t a heavy usage of this feature, I see a future with Google using this information to build a powerful Foursquare competitor in the future. If that happens and you’ve been using this feature, you’ll have a huge leg up on everyone else in your community.
Beyond these tips, consider being a local authority on all things local. Perhaps hold some hangouts to discuss community happenings, create a local community, and/or develop a local circle share that you can target your local content towards. All of these will increase awareness of yourself and your business.
Pillar 6 – Strategies for Getting Shared in G+
Learn from Steven Covey’s 7 effective habits. Steven recommended having a network of 10 key people and giving them massive attention and support and then their ten would all become your advocates too. Online we can go wider and 30 is my chosen number. This is fluid but I have a circle of those 30 and right now they are who I am all about. Who are they? It’s a secret.
Let people know you are on Google+. Everywhere. Add the +1 button to your company’s website or blog, which allows visitors to recommend it with a single click. Websites that use Google’s +1 button generate 3.5 times more traffic from Google+ than websites that don’t have the button installed.
Make circles for watching and circles for broadcasting. When considering your content for the Google+ platform, remember that although there may be some overlap with other social media, this is a new and different platform and potentially an entirely new and different audience.
Get to know who likes what by asking questions, polling, sharing content and interacting. Do not presume that what works for your business on more established social channels such as Twitter and Facebook will have a cookie-cutter fit with your Google+ audience. Tailor your message and content to their needs.
Once you build these special circles and notify them of your new content, you are much more likely to get shared within G+. If there is someone really special in your network that you want to share your content, blow them away with a special piece of content and use the + mention to call their attention to the post. This will increase your chances of being shared to their massive following 10 fold.
Pillar 7 – Go Big or Go Home
Become an authority as soon as possible. Establish yourself with G+ Business Page(s), create come communities around your niche, promote your newest achievements publicly and proudly, and most importantly, stay active.
Once you’ve established yourself, people will be intrigued by you, start contacting you, start reading your “About” page which has your biography, websites, and sites you contribute to. All of this leads to additional traffic to your sites and an increase in sales, which should be your ultimate goal.
Using these pillars to success will definitely help gain the engagers and fans in you and your brand. This pillar report was written by Scott Buehler with revisions made by all 7 Pillar staff. For supplemental help and assistance, be sure to read Scott’s awesome Ultimate Guide to Google Plus.