In the first of a four part series (every Thursday) through a series of expert guest bloggers we hope to unravel and help you understand Google+. Here’s part 1:
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve no doubt heard of Google Plus. You may have even already created a page for your business on this ever-expanding social network. Well, whether you created your business page out of curiosity, to protect your brand, or just out of fear of not being on it, one thing is for certain, you need to do more than just create a business page to get any benefit from Google Plus.
Whilst this sounds really obvious, the kind of content that you share on your Google Plus business page, and the way you share it, can really determine whether your brand is successful on this social network.
Why should you care if your content is sharable? Isn’t enough that you’re just putting content on there? Well, the answer is simple. Like the basis of all social networks, sharing and engaging is fundamental for building up a strong touch-point with potential consumers on Google+. This will encourage users to ad you to their circles. Not only this, but the more authority Google see in your Google Plus page, through the amount of users that have your page in their circles, the more likely Google are to use your page as suggested content for users.
In this post, you will discover how to make your updates and the content you post as ‘sharable’ as possible.
Is your content relevant?
Making sure your content is relevant is basically about giving a good level of consideration to what’s going on in the world, your audience, and your brand.
Keeping your content and updates in-tune with your brand is beneficial to building a strong brand, whilst ensuring your content is relevant to current events and also relevant to your audience, it is going to have a greater appeal to your audience and therefore be more ‘shareable’.
Newlook clothing retailers put a nice spin on the topical event of London 2012 Olympics and the Queens Jubilee, and relate it to a trend they are pushing for the season. The result is a topical update which they have made relevant to their brand and target audience:
If you can create content that is likely to go viral, then this is an obvious way to increase the likelihood of your content being shared. It’s easier said than done as often viral content happens by accident. You couldn’t have dreamed up the way that Fenton (or Benton if you prefer) the dog went viral. If you’ve got the time and the resources to create content that’s likely to go viral, this is a sure-fire way to get your content shared. Alternatively, if you’ve got your finger on the pulse, you can be one of the first pages to share content that others have created which looks to be increasing in popularity; keeping your eye on trending topics within social media is a great way of achieving this. Users are still likely to re-share your share because the content is still relatively new. However, steer clear of content which has been viral in the past, but is no longer popular, no one likes old news.
Share your audience’s content
If you share content that was created originally by your audience (and give them credit), the audience member is more likely to share your page’s content in return. Other users will also see this and make more effort to engage with you, in the hope you share their content too. Everyone loves five minutes of fame. The Pinterest Google Plus page does this well:
As with most social platforms and the web in general, original content is the best content! If you can’t think of anything completely original to write about and are planning to write about something that is being covered by a lot of other brands online, try to at least make sure you take an original angle on it if you can. Try to offer something unique (even if it’s a unique thought about a well-covered subject); this way, your audience are more likely to share your content. I tried to do this with a blog post I wrote about a recent AdWords update which was being perceived as a negative update for AdWords specialists. The angle I took was to explore the positive aspects of the update, rather than being negative like much of the coverage at the time. I then shared this content on Google Plus:
Whatever you do, do not copy and paste someone else’s content.
How you share is as important as what you share
Things are more appealing when they look nice. Now, we’ve always been told to never judge a book by its cover, but most of us still do. At the very best, we might just about take into account the blurb on the back of the book. The online equivalent is judging content by its thumbnail, and possibly reading the description that goes along with it. So, choose a half-interesting thumbnail-image for the content you’re sharing. This will get your audience’s attention and increase the likelihood of your content being shared.
When you share a link on Google Plus, it usually pulls in that page’s Meta description as standard, so if you have control of that Meta description (e.g. if the content is from your own blog where you can write your Meta) make sure it’s engaging and prompts an action. SEOmoz did this here:
Don’t Just Paste a Link
There is nothing worse than seeing a page which has posted a link to some content, without a description of it. Your audience will be left thinking, ‘so what and ‘why is this relevant to me?’. With any link that you post, make sure you include at least a couple of sentences to introduce the content and inform your audience why they should be interested. You might also want to include a call-to-action at the end of this, to encourage the users click. For example, ‘Make sure your website is prepared by reading our guide to this latest algorithm update’.
Show a ‘human’ side to your brand. Social networks are exactly that, social. They were fundamentally designed for people, not brands, and so users tend to engage more with brand pages that have an element of ‘being human’ within their updates. Don’t be scared to talk to your users as a person, or group of people, not just a brand. Use ‘we’ and don’t be afraid of signing off content with a name if you have a team of different people who manage your page.
Include questions in your updates. This is a classic way to increase engagement and make users more likely to re-share your post with others by linking to it. ASOS have mastered this on Google Plus with short and direct updates on subjects that their audience are likely to have an opinion on:
Mention Other People
Mentioning people directly in your posts is a great way of getting the mentioned person’s attention and possibly getting them to re-share your content. You can do this by typing a + symbol before their name when you write your post.
Respond to Users
If a user comments on a post or piece of content, respond to their comment as soon as you can. Even if it’s a negative comment you should address it. John Lewis are good at responding to users on Google Plus:
Analyse your efforts
If you’ve been working really hard to make your content as ‘shareable’ as possible on Google Plus, how do you know if you’re on the right track?
You can get an idea of whether your efforts are working using the ‘Ripples’ part of Google Plus. Click on the little arrow on the top right hand side of a post where you will be displayed a drop down menu. If the post was shared publicly, there will be an option to ‘view ripples’:
You can then see how a post has been ‘spread’ by clicking the play button. You can then see the initial sharers of the post and how the shares increased. You might want to take a note of your initial sharers, and possibly mention them in your next piece of content, as they’re influential in sharing your content with wider audiences. You could also add them to your circles as they are evidently interested in your content and happy to share it
Google Analytics has a great section under its Social tab. Within this click Sources, then click ‘Google+’ in the table of sources displayed. Then click ‘Social Network and Action’ just above the table of URLs that appears. You can then see the kinds of social actions that are taking place on content from your website.. For example, you can see the amount of +1’s, comments, or re-shares. This can give you an indication of the kind of actions you need to increase. For example, if you are getting a lot of +1’s but not many re-shares, maybe you need to be more direct in the call-to-action on your posts and say something along the lines of ‘Re-share this to see what your circles think about the latest Google algorithm update’.
This post has showcased some tips on how to make your content as ‘shareable’ as possible on Google Plus. Give it a go on your Google Plus page today, and don’t forget to evaluate the kind of response you receive.
Remember it takes times for companies to build a presence when they are new to a social network, so don’t be disheartened if your content doesn’t perform well initially. Keep on posting and tweaking your efforts where you think they could be improved. Once you start getting positive responses, you will begin to get an instinct for the kind of content that works well. Before you know it, you’ll soon be on your way to social media success!