After working with Google+ for the past two months, we’ve identified some useful tactics and engagement strategies to build your following. These strategies required some significant investments of time and effort. However, the effort provided the somewhat unexpected benefit of being an incredible learning experience. Not only did we build a following now pushing 400 in about eight weeks, we gained an incredible amount of knowledge from reading the content provided by others in the community. In the end, this is what building a community is all about; sharing and contributing for the purpose of improving the knowledge base for all participants.
The adoption of Google+ by other businesses as a strategic social business platform has reached a remarkable level. Some estimates have the new user growth rate exceeding 30% per year. Based on our experience working with the platform and with the community we’ve built, this growth rate estimate might seem a bit low. Google+ is easy to use and allows efficient management of one’s community of followers and provides some very significant business benefits.
Why Users are Adopting G+
In addition to the benefits of improved knowledge, attracting a number of Google+ followers improves page rank and Search Engine Results Page ranking for the company website. A robust following generates direct traffic for blog posts or content that you might wish to share more widely. In the end, building relationships using Google + is worth the effort.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be discussing some of the lessons-learned from building our Google+ following and sharing what benefits we learn about. We will also share the mistakes and errors we made when we got in a hurry. Experienced social media managers may understand these points, but hopefully our ‘lessons learned’ will help you avoid the same troubles if you are undertaking this task yourself. This week’s post is about kicking off the effort.
Setting up the Google+ Page
The Google+ home page can be easily set up in a few minutes using your Google login. If you don’t have one, just go to Google’s Set Up Page and click on the ‘get started’ tab. As Google has combined Google Local with Google+, the new set up procedure requires you to verify ownership of the site. There are a couple easy ways to do this that the system will instruct you through. Once this is done, the system will ask if you would like to customize with some images.
Step One – Images
Image creation does not need to be one of your major strengths. However, selecting a logo is important. When the page is set up, the system will ask for a Profile and a Banner image. It is possible to set up the page without these assets, but leaving them blank or using the Google supplied images just shows a lack of effort and won’t be inviting to readers.
The most important of these is the ‘Profile’ image. Not only does this image display on the main page of your Google+ site, whenever you comment, “plus” another comment or post, this image appears in a greatly reduced form. Logos that are simple and contain little text work well. Logo images that have long wording will look fuzzy and unclear when rendered in the smaller version. Some users simply use their photos for their Profile image. This might take a little trial and error to get a good logo for use as the Profile image, but making sure that the image works well in both large and small form is worth the effort when you start commenting and leaving your mark as you build your network.
Setting up your banner image is very easy as well. You can just grab a snapshot of your storefront, office or other interesting image that fits the long space at the top of the page. NEVER choose a stock image from Google for the banner as that just shows a low level of interest in managing your page and your page will look like thousands of others.
Setting up the Google+ page is really very easy. Working with the images really isn’t that difficult either. The time consuming part begins when you reach out to others in the community to start building your following. Check back next week when we’ll get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to contribute and how to attract followers.
Matthew Stone is an accomplished SEO expert, digital marketer and is experienced in Social Media Management. Since 2008, Matthew has helped clients attract build online relationships, expand sales and increase revenues. He also works in Denver Public Relations with GroundFloor Media.
You can find him on Google+