Google is integrating Google+ directly into its ecosystem, which means marketers are eventually going to have to pay attention to its social network.
Those who have started working on their Google Plus presence are probably finding the culture a little different from that of other social networks. Personal brands and company pages are expected to... wait for it... actually be social if they want too build a following and to enjoy all those search engine optimization (SEO) signals that the experts herald as one of the prime benefits of Google Plus.
But how do you get started on this extensive network that has so many features? Well, even though the API integrations with our favorite social media management tools are limited for now, that shouldn't dissuade you from developing a process that dips your feet into the Google Plus pond.
You and your brand can get more creative with Google+ later, but here are five things you can do each day that will have a measurable impact on your network authority:
- Share a post of your own.
- Comment on five posts.
- Share two posts from other people.
- Respond to notifications and brand +mentions.
- Network and discover.
Let's break them down.
1. Share a post of your own
Easy one. What you share can be anything; just keep in mind the culture of Google+ encourages discussion. Questions work really well, especially in active communities.
Google also loves its photographers, constantly giving them tools and real estate on the home streams to make their work stand out. If you have a visual-oriented business, be sure to share your photos.
For now, don't worry about all the SEO-related techniques. None of it matters until you start getting a loyal following on your posts. Just share something.
2. Comment on five posts
Commenting will undoubtedly make a difference in the way you progress on Google+. Every time you leave a comment others' posts, they get a notification, as does everybody else who has commented before you. And every time you leave an insightful comment, everyone else who sees it will hover over your name to check you out.
If you have set up your profile so that your Google Plus hovercard tells your story, you will definitely find yourself getting more followers, and people will comment on that post you shared up in No. 1 (Share a post of your own).
Why five comments? Because I said so. You can do more or less; the power of Google+ is truly in discussion.
A real simple place to start is as the "welcome wagon" within a community; when someone introduces themselves, say "hi" and ask them more about their business. Get them talking, and you'll get noticed.
3. Share two posts from other people
The Google+ culture also encourages sharing. If you come across a post that would fit with the theme of your brand or industry, share it, and "+mention" (tag) the author. Better yet, leave an encouraging comment on the original post (see No. 2), then go share it.
Now everybody who has previously commented on that original post sees your comment, and the OP (original poster) will get a notification that you +mentioned him or her in your share. You'll start to build a relationship with that person, who can in turn help amplify the reach of your posts.
Doing this twice simpl means you are dipping your toes into a bigger part of the Google+ ecosystem than just doing it once. Which means, if you prefer, you can share more often!
If you are having a hard time finding good posts to share, use that little search bar at the top of Google+; it's Google, so it does search pretty well. You can also search hashtags and even pull up related hashtags to explore further (there will be a little "tab" on the right side of each post with three hashtags; clicking on any of them will flip the post around so you can go exploring).
4. Respond to notifications and brand +mentions
This is social listening 101. Respond to all your +mention notifications. Remember to bookmark a search query for your brand as well, in case your customers or fans forget to tag you in their posts. Responses can range from a comment (see No. 2) to a +1 on the person's comment or post.
Commenting, however, is always better, just like responding to a tweet, because the public sees you care about those mentioning your brand.
5. Network and discover
Google+ is Google, which means you can search for anything and probably find it. While you are building relationships with the general public, make sure you spend some time to put your brand advocates into a special circle when you find them, or seek out what competitors are doing.
There are many ways you can use the search features within Google+ to your advantage, and when you combine them with some basic circle management, you will create customized feeds for yourself (like private Twitter lists) that allow you to stay on top of the latest in your industry and capitalize on opportunities as they arise on Google Plus.
How long will this take?
The above steps could take as little as 15 minutes and as long as 45 minutes per day, mostly depending on how often your brand is being mentioned and how many times you choose to go back to threads you've commented on to leave follow-up comments and build relationships with other who've commented.
One big tip as you get started: make sure you spend some time every day (even if it's two minutes) keeping your circles in check. When they get out of control, wading through the posts within them will make it hard to accomplish these simple yet effective tasks in as little time as possible.