How to Grow Your Google+ Engagement

social media how toAre you getting the most from your Google+ presence?

Are you looking for ways to improve your Google+ engagement?

Well look no further.

In this article I’ll share five ways you can improve your Google+ experience.

Why Google+?

Because Google+ isn’t just a social network–it’s part of a powerful social platform that integrates with key capabilities like Google Docs, chat, hangouts, email and more.

For that reason alone, Google+ is a high-value opportunity worth investing time and resources to cultivate.

A common misconception is that Google+ is a ghost town. In reality, Google+ is home to vibrant, active communities that foster deep engagement. The trick is learning how to find and take advantage of these communities to build long-lasting relationships with your core audiences.

Here are five effective strategies that will take your engagement on Google+ to a whole new level.

#1: Make Your Google+ Page Findable

First, to make sure your Google+ page is easily findable, add a Google+ Badge to your website. You can add a badge for both personal Google+ accounts and business accounts.

example of google+ badge code

Here’s an example of a Google+ Badge code that you can place on your website.

Badges make it easy for visitors to find and engage with you in one simple click of a mouse.

#2: Network Strategically With Circles

Curation isn’t just for content; it’s an important tool for organizing your relationships on Google+. Circles are an effective way to manage different interest groups and home in on the communities and conversations that matter to you.

For example, you can create circles around themes such as Food, Fly Fishing, Content Marketing, Social Media Experts, Dog Lovers, etc.

curated circles

Curation isn’t just for content; it’s also for organizing networks.

Use keyword searches to identify relevant people/pages/posts to add to your circles.

google+ search result

Here’s a result of a Google+ search.

Using circles is a great technique for building new relationships, as well as for keeping current relationships warm. Strategically curating your circles will make it easy to target and stay connected with the right people.

google+ circle example

Here’s an example of a Google+ circle.

For example, it’s important for me to follow and engage with thought leaders in the social media space. I’ve created a Social Media circle that makes it easy for me to drop in on those people and participate in their Google+ activities without doing a regular search or sifting through my regular feed to find their content.

#3: Include Compelling Content

There are different types of compelling content.

Visual content

Consistent with other social networks, the importance of relevant, compelling content can’t be overlooked. Prioritizing highly visual content such as images, videos and infographics is a winning strategy to stimulate engagement and promote shareability.

At Social Media Marketing World 2013, Guy Kawasaki shared one of his pro tips—he deletes auto-generated thumbnail images in favor of larger, visually compelling screenshot images to maximize the engagement on his Google+ posts.

For example, this Mother’s Day post uses a screenshot of a larger, more visually appealing image of the video, attached to the post with a trackable link, instead of using the auto-generated thumbnail.

large image in post

Use large images in lieu of thumbnails to attract more interest in your posts.

Resource content

Another type of content that solicits a large number of comments (especially in Communities) is how-to–style pieces that include links back to other resources.

It’s generally acceptable for these to be text-heavy because they’re information-rich and address a specific question or need. This is a great opportunity to link back to your blog for additional resources.

resource example

Here’s an example of a resource / how-to post on Google+.

Keep in mind you should still include a visually engaging image whenever possible. If it isn’t possible to include an image, here’s a great guideline on how to structure lengthy text posts to maximize readership.

Hashtags

Many people do not realize that you can use hashtags on Google+. And although you don’t need to use hashtags to find information—Google+ search functionality is excellent—you can use hashtags there too!

Adding a #hashtag can make it easier for you to find related posts, follow ongoing conversations and join trending topics.

hashtag example

Here’s an example of a hashtag used on Google+.

Using hashtags makes it easier to follow popular hashtag conversations across social platforms.

#4: Be Proactive With Engagement

Simply put, the conversation starts with you. Merely posting or sharing content isn’t sufficient if you really want to build deep engagement with your community.

It’s equally, if not more, important to interact by commenting on other people’s posts, asking questions and adding your opinion/perspective to existing conversations.

A few hands-on tips to boost engagement:

  • Always end your post with a question to spark discussion.
  • Respond to users’ comments or questions, and ask follow-up questions to continue to drive the discussion.
  • Develop repeatable campaigns that are easy for users to participate in and contribute to. Utilize a unique hashtag dedicated to a campaign and stay consistent (e.g., #FeedbackFridays, for which every Friday you pose a question/idea to your customers).
  • Use + mentions whenever possible to engage people and invite them to join the conversation.
  • Create high-quality, relevant content that is useful to your audience.
  • Quotes, beautified/interesting photos and pithy, humorous content are also categories that are very popular on Google+.
how to use + mentions

An example of how to use + mentions to promote engagement on Google+.

Another great strategy to kickstart engagement is to participate in “What’s trending?” topics, found on the Home menu under What’s Hot. These are broad trends that are easy to relate and contribute to.

example of whats hot and recommended

An example of a “What’s Hot and Recommended” post on Google+.

Lastly, track progress by setting daily goals for “proactive interactions,” interactions you initiate with others. An ideal number to start with is 2-3 proactive comments, questions or compliments per day, in addition to information-sharing posts.

Every interaction counts. It won’t be long before all of those conversation starters add up.

#5: Join Communities and Hangouts

Google+ Communities and Hangouts are gold mines for connecting and engaging with other users, especially those with interests relevant to your business. Participating in these features is critical to building a strong presence.

Google+ Communities and Hangouts are designed to foster connections around specific interests and passions. Self-promotional marketing won’t fly here, unless you enjoy the sound of crickets.

Communities

There are over 50,000 communities on Google+, spanning interests from social media to veganism to dog lovers. In short, there’s something for everyone!

Once you’ve identified and joined relevant communities, make it a priority to participate regularly. A child of Google, Google+ is also built on the principles of high-quality information-sharing; be sure to actively ask and answer questions, as well as share valuable content to fuel engagement and build quality relationships.

community types

Here’s an example some Communities on Google+.

Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air (HOA) offer businesses an opportunity to enhance engagement with users/customers through live, real-time, multimedia interaction. These unique functionalities give businesses an important advantage, making it easier than ever to open direct lines of communication with customers, solicit feedback, promote dialogue and build brand loyalty.

cadbury uk hangout

Here’s Cadbury Chocolate in the UK doing a Google+ Hangout.

A great example of this is Cadbury UK, a chocolate company that used Google+ HOA to incorporate their customers into the Cadbury experience by engaging them in online activities, hosting contests and inviting them to share product feedback.

Google+ HOA are live-streamed videos with interactive participation—a stellar tool to cultivate and engage key audiences.

HOA have been successfully leveraged for businesses, education, even politics. HOA are automatically recorded and can be posted to YouTube with a link back to your blog for a nice SEO boost.

example of google hoa

Here’s Michelle Obama on Google+ HOA.

Your Turn

Incorporating these five strategies will help you build long-lasting relationships with your core audiences and boost your engagement on Google+.

What do you think? Have you used Google+ to support your business goals? What’s been successful for your business? Leave your comments and questions below.

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About the Author, Megan Conley

Megan is the Founder & CEO of Social Tribe, an agency that connects brands to customers through social media. Social Tribe clients include Cisco Systems, SAP and SuccessFactors. Follow her on Twitter @megconley Other posts by »




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  • Aleks George

    Fantastic tips. I think a lot of people, myself included are still trying to get their head around G+, so this is a nice guide to work with. I think making your content visual when possible is essential.

  • Seth Keeler

    Solid tips, Megan. The sky is the limit with Hangouts On Air and tapping into communities has huge potential. Thanks!

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Wow! These are some great tips (or guidelines) for boosting engagement on almost every platform. I really like how these tips capture the bilateral intimacy—engagement now available through social media. It really shows how businesses and brands are more connected to their fans, customers, and supporters than ever before.

  • Megan Conley

    Thanks Aleks! So glad you found it helpful. I really do believe that Google+ is gaining traction – both for individuals and businesses – which is why it’s so important to invest time and energy developing it. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Megan Conley

    100% agree Seth! Maybe we’ll bump into each other on a HOA one of these days – have you tried it yet?

  • Megan Conley

    You nailed it Patrick. Businesses have more opportunities then ever before to connect and engage with their audiences, but they need to be purposeful in how they do it. So glad you enjoyed the article – let me know if you have any questions!

  • http://www.magentaemedia.com Tracy Stonard

    Megan, these are great tips and strategies for Google+ and some of the guidelines can apply to other platforms too. For example using the #feedbackFriday to ask customers for their feedback is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://elainefogel.net/ Elaine Fogel

    Loved it. Will share. :)

  • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

    Nicely done. Google’s latest Penguin update is going to force us social marketers to pay much more attention to G+. Great to see a comprehensive list of tactics that we all need to be doing more of. The SEO implications are too great to be ignored.

  • Catherine Yaffe

    Great post & tips, I have to say that given the choice I’d ditch the rest and stick with G+ – it’s where most of my interaction comes from, I love the Communities function – for business and personal and though I’ve yet to try Hangouts I’m sure they’re just as cool! Thanks for posting Megan.

  • Michael Wilson

    I think that Google+ is quickly becoming one of the most used social media platforms next to Facebook and Twitter. You can do pretty much anything you want in Google, and now that they have a functioning social media site, I think it can only continue to grow. I really wish more people use it because there are so many unique ideas and functions that perform better than anything on Facebook and Twitter. I think that introduction of circles is probably my favorite feature because it can help organize all of the connections that you have and share content with those people exclusively. I think that is is a platform that can be used for social media marketing because it is growing quickly. And I love all of the redesigns that they have done to the site recently!

  • Seth Keeler

    Megan, I work for +American Family Insurance and we’ve run a number of HOAs this year and looking to do more. I love them!

  • Megan Conley

    Awesome – thanks Elaine!

  • Megan Conley

    Thanks Jason! I’m excited about Google+ because it’s a platform designed for real engagement. That combined with SEO makes it a powerful tool.

  • Megan Conley

    I’m with you Catherine – I think there’s a big movement in that direction. Give Hangouts a try and let me know what you think. Cheers :-)

  • Megan Conley

    Yes – right on! Google+ is really separating the “noise” from true engagement. That alone makes it tremendously valuable in my book. That plus all the awesome functionalities make it a real win!

  • Megan Conley

    Awesome – maybe you can share some tips with me for HOA best practices? I’d love to hear your experiences.

  • http://www.design4dot.com/ Michelle Dettlaff

    Amazing tips. I used most of these in my business with my clients. Your blog is one of my favorites.

  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Awesome info Megan.

    I have become a huge Google+ fan myself here. Great to get some tips that you immediately can apply.

    I am testing out using Google Forms for Hotels to subscribe to a dedicated Circle. Working ok so far. Will do some variations to test which gives me the best results.

    Now I love the proactive interaction tip. The Google+ Community without no doubt rewards this strategy. If I can give an 80/20 balance that seems to work really well.

    Will rewrite my Google+ Strategies a little after this. Always cool to get some new ideas.

    Cheers..

    Are Morch
    Hotel Blogger

  • http://bajabybus.com/ Ian Wright

    Useful article, thanks, especially the point about linking back to your blog. You can gain traffic and “social signals” (when the post gets +1′d, commented on or shared) as well as having your posts crawled by the bots quicker.

  • Seth Keeler

    Love to. One G+ community you should check out if you haven’t yet is Hangouts On Air https://plus.google.com/communities/102931411942843961321 This is a great how-to resource for HOAs

  • Blaine Bullman

    Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve just started a Google+ page and I’m looking to beef it up. In your opinion what’s the real purpose and vision of having a Google+ page?

    Blaine

  • Seth Keeler

    Anytime Megan! What’s the bets way to connect with you?

  • http://www.sm4hc.com/ Scott Scowcroft

    Megan,

    The old saying goes, “skate to where the puck will be, not to where it has been.” Well, your great post is among the best I’ve read pointing to the future of social/business online engagement – which is clearly with Google Plus.

    To me, the G+ integration of the tools you featured will be as profound for for online engagement as what Microsoft did for productivity software when it introduced Office.

    Well done.

  • http://bizhax.com/ Keith Bloemendaal

    Too bad SME doesn’t let you claim your Google Authorship….

  • Jose Mathias

    I would like to know more about using the Google + authorship in search feature. I think that posts are more authoritative when they have the authorship profile in search results but I can never get mine to work.

  • MrsB

    Thanks for the guidance, Google+ is not easy to get to grips with, it’s good to see someone writing about it in a positive way.

  • Nori Lee

    Great article! I’m still wrapping my head around G+ so your article definitely helps! Do you know of an online service that helps companies create content or posts on Facebook?

  • http://www.socialsinergy.com/ Adam Dukes

    A great write up on Google+. I love the Hangouts and am having a blast interviewing local business owners via HOA. Was not aware what Cadbury was doing, but think it’s really cool.

  • funboystar

    I am about to start a bussines and you have made me half way alteady. Thanks for this fantastic article

  • http://dimnity.com/ Sharon Slater

    I needed to read this. thanks. I too have struggled trying to use gplus effectively, this will help considerably…thankyou.

  • juliemarg

    Megan, Thanks so much for including me as one of your tipsters! My use of G+ really improved when I found communities. I get lots of comments, shares and connections from my new community friends.

  • juliemarg

    BTW, I am Julie Gallaher – I wish Social Media Examiner would drop the Disqus commenting system. I prefer connecting directly to my FB, TW, G+ or LI profile.

  • juliemarg

    That’s exactly what happened to me. I’ve received over 50 +1s to my blog in the last month just from participating in a few discussions where a post of mine was relevant.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Hi Megan! Thanks for these GREAT tips for G+. I’m becoming a bigger fan of it every day. I LOVE using the Google+ Hangouts for my business. With live streaming and the ability to link your video on YouTube, it really can’t be beat. How cool is that?!

  • http://bajabybus.com/ Ian Wright

    Excellent work, juliemarg! :-)

  • Baylan Megino

    Great tips, Megan! This is helpful as I’m figuring out Google+. Have you noticed a difference in levels of success for business individuals vs. small entrepreneurs vs. larger brands? Or is that yet to be seen?

  • Megan Conley

    Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn…pretty much any where you can find me :-) Looking forward to it!

  • Megan Conley

    Wow – thank you so much! Really appreciate your feedback :-)

  • Megan Conley

    Thanks Are. Proactive interaction is key to boosting engagement – keep me posted on your results.

  • Megan Conley

    +2 on that! Make sure to get the most out of every post for engagement and SEO!

  • Megan Conley

    Hi Blaine – As with any social activity, it all has to map back to your goals. Once you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve, it’s much easier to create a roadmap that will get you there. Google+ is a great platform for building community and engaging with audiences, it also has wonderful SEO benefits. If any of those match your objectives, Google+ is a good space for you to explore. Let me know if you have other questions!

  • Megan Conley

    Love that analogue Scott! I might borrow if for my next post :D Thank you so much for your comment, I’m thrilled that you found value in this article. More soon!

  • Megan Conley

    Yup, that’s a bummer. But still buzzing on all this awesome engagement!

  • Megan Conley

    There’s a link in my article – did you check that out for more details on how to set your authorship profile up?

  • Megan Conley

    Absolutely – thanks for checking it out!

  • Megan Conley

    Hi Nori, there are a lot of content development services out there. What type of industry/business are you in?

  • Jose Mathias

    I just did. Great job! thank you.

  • Megan Conley

    Ditto – I’m so inspired by Cadbury’s campaign, so creative and innovative.

  • Megan Conley

    You got it! Thanks for your feedback.

  • Megan Conley

    Happy to help.

  • Megan Conley

    Hey Julie – thanks for being a great example! It’s always positive to show success stories/profiles like yours. Stay in touch :-)

  • Megan Conley

    Tough to beat :-) Plus, I love that Google+ is advertising free – such a nice change from the barrage of ads I get on FB/Twitter. Forces marketers to work harder at engagement…but that’s the point!

  • Megan Conley

    That’s a great question Baylan. I think the really differentiator is the amount of effort brands invest in their Google+ strategy – going the extra mile to be innovative and engage their community is what makes a business successful (in my opinion, of course).

  • Swayam Das

    These strategies are so cool :-) There’s hardly any quality post on Google Plus these days :-) Thanks Megan!

  • Johanna

    Hi Megan,
    many thanks for those fantastic tips. They are all evry helpful for me as a beginner.

  • Adeel Sami

    Great tips, will make me to be proactive as I am slowly stepping into G+. One again, great tips, Megan!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great tips!

    Should you have two Google+ pages? Business? Personal? I didn’t create a Google+ business page, but I’m starting to think I may need one.

    One of the reasons why I like Twitter is you don’t have to choose between personal and business because most entrepreneurs and businesses use Twitter for business. I guess you could create a personal Twitter page, if you need or want one.

  • Baylan Megino

    I agree with Aleks and Seth. Sharing visual content easily and Hangouts On Air are huge attractants, especially for those with a message to share. I am diving in! :-)

  • Megan Conley

    Great Johanna- keep me posted on how it goes!

  • Megan Conley

    Awesome, thanks so much Swayam. I’ll be posting more articles on SME about Google+, stay tuned!

  • Megan Conley

    Thanks Adeel!

  • Megan Conley

    Great question. It’s a personal choice and depends somewhat on the context. If you’re primary objective is to use your Google+ for business but you like to post a lot of personal content, then I would separate them. If you use it mostly for work but add some personal content to create a more authentic experience, then I think it’s fine to combine them into one. Does that help?

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Hey Megan, some great tips! Great to see you on Social Media Examiner!

  • http://www.howardgreenstein.com/blog Howard Greenstein

    Megan,
    Any thoughts on the Cover image “issue?” Some folks find the cover photo is too big, and pushes down their content too far. I’ve seen ‘compressed’ or collapsed images recently, but they don’t always show the part of the image a business wants to promote. Any pro tips here? (May quote you on it)

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  • OpenSourceMedia

    Great tips. Google + is very effective for business and it is coping up with Facebook as a most popular social sites. Surely many newbies will need this tips, and I’ll recommend them to read this. Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://www.visin.com Thomas Townsend

    Great advice, I am expanding my usage everyday….Hangouts are next on the list.

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  • Jaswinder

    The explanation about Google Plus is Great here on this site. I just started to use it and see little benefit of using it. Learning is on the way how to use it properly to take more benefit.
    Thanks for the information and hope for I will come back to read it again.

  • http://www.SmBizMastery.com/ Kymmberly

    Thanks for some great tips. Can’t argue against the importance of google+
    especially since google keeps doing everything to make it even more so.
    And, As the others have said, I am working hard at trying to “get this”

    It IS very frustrating though, because contrary to what many think or say, many of us have searched and searched and not only is our “CORE” audience just not there- neither is the core audience of many of our clients- very frustrating and limiting when trying to get them on the g+ bandwagon.







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