I’ll be very honest— most brands who are on Google+ are not doing a very good job. In fact they’re probably doing more harm than good.
Maybe they’ve not spent the time to understand how powerful the platform actually is. Or maybe they’ve bought into the rumors of Google+ being “dead” or “dying”. Whatever the case, there is a lot being left on the table for brands looking to grow a highly engaged social audience on Google+.
In this post I’ll walk you through some simple tactics and strategy to grow your audience on Google+.
Complete Your Profile
This is so simple, but often overlooked. Your profile is the most crucial part in your success on any social platform.
Fail to do this well and you’re going to be missing opportunities to connect with your highest value followers. They will see your incomplete profile and decide that you just don’t care enough about the platform for them to follow you.
So let’s make sure you’ve hit all the important pieces:
Your profile picture on Google+ is displayed across the network as a circle. So you will need to upload an image that is a perfect square with a little bit of white space around the edges.
Here’s our template for creating a Google+ profile photo:
When placing your logo in this template, the blue area is your “safe zone”. Anything outside of that blue area will not be seen since profile pictures are displayed as circles.
Make sure that this photo is representative of your brand. It’s going to be displayed as small as 16px in some instances so it should be recognizable at very small sizes. Don’t use a lot of text as it wont be readable or distinguishable at such a small size.
Your Google+ cover photo gives you a chance to set the tone for your brand presence. It’s an opportunity to use big imagery to make the best emotional connection to your followers.
This is not a billboard. It’s not a display ad. It is a branding opportunity.
Select an image that is high quality and represents the brand’s emotion or unique style.
Here’s a template for you:
Follow the guidelines and keep you most important items in the center of the photo so they don’t get cut off at different screen sizes.
Your Cover photo will not only be displayed when people visit your profile, but wherever your profile cards appear.
This section is for Brand pages only, not Local Pages (we’ll get there in a moment). This is where you get to tell your brand story. You get a full text editor complete with text formatting and hyperlink abilities.
Use that section to it’s fullest capacity. Think of it like a mini version of your website’s about page.
This section for Local pages only and tells people how to get in touch with you. Be sure to fill it out accurately. You have the ability to add:
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Hours of Operation (for local pages)
Give people as much info as they need to get a hold of you. And remember, this will also inform Google about your business to serve it up in search results. So do this well!
Verify your site
To make sure that Google+ can properly associate your page with your website, you need to connect your official domain.
To accomplish this you need to edit the “Links” section of your About page and add in your website address. If you are a local Google+ page this will be added in your Contact information section.
You may also be prompted to verify you own that domain by either adding a bit of code to your website or by confirming with an email account on that domain.
Once you’ve done this you will get a small “Verified” badge for your Google+ page. It also means that Google recognizes the connection between the two and add it to it’s overall knowledge about your site and social presence for search purposes.
It also makes your page seem just a little more legitimate.
Posting On Google+
Before you post anything on Google+ you have to understand that it’s a different animal than other social networks. People on Google+ don’t take to shallow posts with simply a headline and link dump.
Just like all social networks there is a different culture and communication norms that are unique to each network. If you don’t speak the language of the users on that platform, you’re not going to have as much success.
We have found that the audience on Google+ speaks a much more engaging language. They want substance. So here are 7 things that we believe make up a highly engaging Google+ post.
- Opening Headline: Us an asterisk at the beginning and end to make it bold when published. Just like a bog headline, this hooks their interest.
- Intro: A brief 1-2 sentence explanation of what you are sharing.
- CTA: Your call-to-action should be the link that you want them to click on (if you have one).
- Value Add: Add another 1-2 sentences (or more) that will give people value even if they don’t click on your CTA. Maybe a few points from the article you’re sharing or just a personal application of what the big takeaway is.
- Provoke engagement: End the post with a final question or something that will spur comments. Asking a question is usually a great way to do this, or give them a clear-cut thing to comment with (example: let me know in the comments if you see this working for you or not).
- Hashtags: Be sure to add any relevant hashtags to the bottom of your post.
- Image: If you want to get the highest likelihood of engagement, we’ve found that Image posts perform the best. So upload an image that relates to your content. If you’re sharing a link that generates a big image preview, then that works pretty well too. Not quite as well as actual uploaded images though in our experience.
This is a shorter version of a post I wrote previously called The Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ Post.
Circles allow you to organize your contacts in a way that makes them easy to keep track of and communicate with. The biggest advantage though is keeping track of your target audience or key influencers.
Without going too in-depth here’s a list of key circles you want to create and begin adding people to:
- Industry Influences: This will be your go-to circle for following industry news or influencers.
- Target Audience: This will be a circle of people who you want to connect with who might be potential clients, customers or advocates.
- Customers or Clients: A circle of current customers, clients, or advocates.
- Team Members: A circle of employees or team members.
From your Home stream on Google+ you can filter by circles so that you can be sure you’re connecting with the right people at the right times.
For a more in-depth look at circles, I’ve written a full guide to Google+ circles.
Google+ Collections allow you to organize your content just like you would on your corporate blog. So strategically create collections that match your brand’s keywords.
You will want to consistently create content for these Collections to build up your authority and following on each one. In addition to the audience authority you will be building, rumor has it that Google will also be ranking Collections similarly to how they rank Pinterest boards in search.
I’ve also written an in-depth piece on Google+ Collections in addition to the one I’ve linked above from our own Wade Harman.
While Google+ Communities have lost a little bit of steam since their initial buzz, they are still a great place to find people who are passionate about specific subject matter.
Visit the Communities page and search for keywords related to your brand. You will find communities that are related to those keywords but be sure to take a look inside the community first. Not all communities are active and others are completely overrun by spammers.
When you find one that seems active with real people, you’ve found a potential gold mine for your target audience outreach. Be sure to engage effectively and mind proper etiquette in these communities and they pay off can be huge!
Tools to help
There are a handful of tools that can make all of this a bit easier.
Circloscope allows you to easily add people to your circles using a browser extension. You can have it find people based on engagement on specific posts or specific people’s posts. You can also clean up your circles and get rid of people who are no longer active.
There’s a whole lot more to this powerful extension, and if you’re looking to grow your audience, it’s a must-have.
Friends+Me is the only app I have seen that can effectively post or schedule posts to Google+ profiles, pages, communities and now even collections.
If you want to schedule posts to Google+ this is the app you need.
There is no tool that I know of that is more powerful for mining data in Google+. The guys over at NOD3x have built something really special.
Basically it allows you to target keywords to find hot conversations, influencers and other important data to help you take high-return action on Google+. Though, the great thing about this tool is it’s not limited to Google+, it’s a full social data analysis tool for real professionals.
If you manage to make Google+ a part of your workflow, the benefits can be far greater than any other platform. With the added potential SEO value of personalized search results and the ability to connect with targeted and passionate groups of people, Google+ may just be your most targeted audience segment.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow a thriving audience on Google+ and it’s been the source of many professional opportunities. No other network has had the return on investment that Google+ has had, despite what any journalist might want you to think.
If you need any help getting momentum going with your brand on Google+, don’t hesitate to let us know!