I’ve had a number of people ask me how they can really get the most out of Google Plus, so I’d like to focus a lot on this issue, as so many sites will report on using the tools available on Google Plus, but few offer tips on how to really use the service correctly, as in using it to its fullest potential versus Facebook or Twitter.
For this post I’d like to begin on how and why sharing longer content on Google Plus can be extremely beneficial and interesting for your readers, and why Google Plus is simply the best way to share these longer content “updates” (think mini-posts) than any other service.
To start, if you are unsure about what Google+ is or how it operates, watch this video:
Now let’s see how we can effectively market on this new platform, including promoting our G+ profile and branding our URL.
Using Google+ Differently
Currently, I have myself been experimenting with three things:
1.) Longer Forms Of (Concise) Content
I greatly enjoy the fact that G+ allows this (as opposed to Twitter). Facebook Pages have also but for some reason I’m really drawn to the opportunity here to share longer stuff. I think that G+ allows some formatting (bold, italics etc) sets it apart a little for me over Facebook (something about long posts on Facebook don’t seem as effective or noticed, as it is so personal).
What longer posts allow you to do is share multiple links or thoughts on a single topic; the key here is to remain focused on a single theme, sprinkle a few links to your content that is relevant (old evergreen content or new stuff) in order to encourage discussion and also your connections to visit your relevant posts on the issue.
On Twitter, you were pretty much limited to a single link, and 140 characters and no threaded responses really killed a good conversation, and Facebook just doesn’t seem to get such a conversation started (although FB is still a great tool, especially for feedback).
So why stick to the basic updates that everyone has already seen before, now is your chance to use a new system and deliver your content in new and interesting ways.
The thing to watch here is to make sure (as with any other social network) that your posts don’t turn into a constant stream of you “spamming” your own material: people follow you because they obviously like what you post, but you have to keep it interesting by including other “3rd party” content so to speak, as long as it is relevant to your audience.
However, imagine the power of doing weekly wrap-up posts at the end of the week: people would not only love this because they can catch up on your stuff even if they missed out all week, and you get to send traffic back to posts that have since been published and viewed, so its a win-win for both you and your followers on G+.
Speaking of which, the next way to really use G+ well is…
2. Refreshing Archived Blog Posts
My thinking is that over the time that you have spent blogging (which can be years for some people), you have probably written a lot of great content that now goes unseen by current readers. So I thought perhaps bringing some of the articles and posts that I think are still relevant out into the light again might help people who enjoy your content, and help you regenerate interest in old posts.
As it turns out, people generally enjoy checking out “evergreen” older posts of yours (meaning that you cannot re-post time sensitive posts, such as posts on news or things that were going on at the time). Advice that stands the test of time is always welcome, and so Google+ seems to be a great way of mixing in some old content with some new to create interest in a collection of posts at once, rather than the single link usually found on Twitter or Facebook.
At worst you’ll be posting something that a long time reader hasn’t read in a while (don’t re-post things from last week, unless you are doing a round-up) so really nobody loses here, and newer readers especially win out because they get to see an article that they normally would have never found in the archives.
3. Really Thinking Out Loud
So we all know that social networks allow you to “think out loud”, but they have been fairly limiting when it comes to how they are structured.
Let me explain: Twitter is set up so that you can post about really anything to a large group of followers, but you are obviously limited to the amount of character that you can get away with in each update. Point is, your Twitter account is generally accepted to be a mix of personal and business/blog related stuff, so followers know what to expect.
On Facebook fan pages, you have the ability to post longer updates, but you are still limited by the formatting and a larger number of characters, and more importantly, FB fan pages are not usually viewed as a place where you can ramble on about whatever you are thinking of.
Generally speaking they are made to post updates strictly about whatever they are for (such as for your blog) and don’t contain other updates that are unrelated. Sure, from time you time you may ask questions or just post a more “casual” status, but nearly all of them will relate back to what people came to the page for: they simply aren’t as personal as Google+ profiles.
And since regular Facebook accounts limit you to adding friends (mutually) and limit the number of followers, they aren’t good for building a large following connected to your site or “tribe” if you will.
So here is where G+ fills another gap: you can ramble on about other topics, as people are generally interested in your personal goings on, unlike on your site’s FB page, yet you are not limited to the character count or non-existent formatting options of Twitter.
So you’ve read here how I plan on utilizing Google+, and you may or may not agree, but personally I feel as though G+ fills a needed void that the other big networks have not been able to satisfy thus far, and so I am in the camp that views G+ as a welcome addition to their media strategy, and not just another site I’m forced to log on to.
One question that I’d love to have your feedback on is this: Have you experimented with longer forms of content on G+? I’d also love to hear how, and if you plan on having a different strategy for you G+ account than you do on Facebook or Twitter.
Promote Your Google+ Profile
As you may have guessed, one of the best ways to gain more followers on Google Plus is to leverage the other existing web properties that you may already have, and typically, none of these is more useful than your website or blog.
If you own a blog with a fair amount of traffic, one of the best ways to get more followers is to display a sleek looking widget that allows those interested in your updates to follow you on Google+ with a simple click.
You may have seen these widgets in use already: some of the big bloggers and website personalities have really jumped aboard Google Plus, and as such they are looking to increase their follower count, and so far, using widgets on their site has been very effective.
However, there are a few options, so I have gone through the myriad of resources and listed my favorite choices below.
1.) Widgets Plus Google Plus Widget
My absolute favorite thus far has to be the great looking and versatile Widgets Plus tools. You can actually see this in action on the sidebar of this very site.
I have chosen not to include a “stream” or list of updates, however, that is one of the options. Having updates can be beneficial to give people an idea of what you often post about, but in my opinion the widget looks much cleaner in the basic form.
To install the widget, simply copy and paste your Google+ profile number:
https://plus.google.com/113700089599268336343/ <— This is your profile number
And then copy and paste it into the site, which will generate a code that you can copy onto your site. If you are using WordPress, like this site is, just add a text widget to your sidebar and paste the code there, and you will instantly have the widget displayed on your site.
Couldn’t be any easier, and the widget seems to get updates every once in a while, so this is a great option to spread your G+ presence, and it is currently my favorite widget.
2.) GGPLS Google+ Feed Widget
Another great widget that kind of resembles the Twitter feed widget is the G+ Feed Widget by GGPLS. It also has very easy installation instructions, a fortunately common trait for all of the widgets featured here.
I found that this widget was simple and easy to use, and one of the better looking widgets when it came to displaying your G+ stream, however I still preferred the more sleek look of the widget featured above. Still, a solid option that is sure to be improved.
3.) Scriptrr Google Plus Profile Stream
Another great option, although in my opinion less aesthetically pleasing than the previous two, is the Scriptrr Google Plus Stream widget, which can take your profile number and turn it into a displayable stream of your Google+ updates, very similar to the Twitter stream widget, if you have ever seen that before on blogs.
While I prefer the more minimal design of the former two options, this may be to your liking and is certainly a very viable option to getting your profile displayed on your website, so check it out and see if it suites your needs.
4.) Google Plus Statistics Widget
One of the earliest widgets fulfilling this need was the Social Statistics G+ Statistics Widget, which will allow you to show off not only your profile, but also the stats related to it, such as your follower and following count.
If you don’t have a strong following, this widget may not be advisable if you are concerned about social proof, as your follower count if prominently displayed. If it is not concerned than this widget makes for a clean option to display your G+ page.
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