If you’re actively marketing on social media, you’ve probably noticed that “achieving positive engagement” on all social networks doesn’t tend to work all that well.
In fact, marketers argue some social networks could be dying.
To avoid any bewilderment, Google+ is the social network under fire in recent years.
Jonathan Rosenberg and Eric Schmidt in their book titled “How Google Works” (released last year) wrote that Google+ was one of the most ambitious bets in Google’s history. It came after they analyzed the disruptive threat of social networks, particularly Twitter and Facebook.
But things didn’t go as planned. Mashable posted a story earlier in the year painting a pretty negative picture of Google+ as a social network.
The main problem, according to a former Googler (cited by Business Insider), is that Google tried to make this platform too much like Facebook. Another Googler is of the same opinion, adding that the company was motivated from a competitive standpoint but was pretty late to market.
Then the fact that Vic Gundotra, who was leading the social efforts of Google+, left the company added insult to injury.
But the biggest issue is that the social networking aspect of Google+ isn’t being used. Blogger Kevin Anderson explained that while there are 4 million to 6 million active Google+ users, only 9 percent of them publicly-post content.
Subsequently, Google+ has failed to bring positive results for marketers. Internet marketer Ryan Hanley wrote in a blog post that despite all the features, the return on investment on his Google+ marketing strategy just didn’t hold up for him, and he’ll spend more time creating content on his own properties rather than investing energy and time on all social networks.
The failure to achieve a positive ROI could be due to the declining engagement rate. A study informed that there has been a 98 percent decline in Google+ engagement year over year, and the decline spreads to Google+ Communities who’ve lost their audiences over the years.
Also, a study by Stone Temple Consulting Corporation revealed that less than one million people create 50+ posts monthly on Google+.
Perhaps Google realizes all this, which could be why it’s still not giving up on Google+. The company has revamped the platform and launched a new version that emphasis on social networking and building communities around shared interests.
Engineering Director Eddie Kessler stated the following in a blog post:
“We’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say.”
Google has put two of the most requested features – Communities and Collections – at the front and center to make it easy for people to connect if they share the same passions. Also, Google+ is more mobile-friendly, and has been rebuilt across iOS and Android to provide a fast and consistent experience across all types of device screens to users.
Benjie Moss, WebdesignerDepot’s editor, stated:
“Collections allow you to immerse yourself in a specific subject — long boarding, or sub-Saharan entomology, for example. Communities allows you to meet up with like-minded users.”
The revamp around common interests is big news for marketers, who can find the ideal audience and segment them easily.
Amplifying Your Google+ Marketing Strategy
With new features on board, you can utilize a mixture of new and old tactics to get the most out of this platform. Here are 6 tips to help you get started:
1. Utilize Google+ Collections to promote your brand
This feature of Google+ allows users to categorize their updates by topics, which enables the people following them to find updates quickly for the subjects that match their interests.
Does your brand offer a variety of products and services? Do you organize different types of family-friendly and networking events? Do you and your employees take part in non-profit campaigns? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you already have loads of content to use in Google+ Collections.
Foodista, for example, has Google+ Collections to document different types of recipes it has talked about over the years. Google+ followers of Foodista can follow the Collection of their choice based on their interests, whether it’s kids-friendly recipes, family-friendly recipes or sugar-free recipes.
Here’s a Collection called “Creative Cakes” and the comments + shares show it receives a lot of engagement.
The idea is a bit like Pinterest marketing, but with the aim of leveraging visual content to spark engagement on Google+.
Note: It is viable to link a created Collection to your Google+ Business Page. This is important not just to increase followers on both of these pages (separate from each other), but also drive cross-engagement.
2. Use third-party posts and content
Brands usually create and post self-created content on social networks and expect engagement in return. However, they pay less attention to third-party posts, which are an untapped resource for driving engagement.
ou can comment on an influencer’s post and add your thoughts or insights. The whole concept lies around building new relationships with influencers, industry-friends, etc.
Apart from commenting on third-party posts, you can also utilize the content posted by others and share it on your own Google+ channel (page, community, etc.). However, you’d want to add your own thoughts or opinion before reposting to add an original element to the content.
With this tip, you position yourself as a subject matter expert, and tell the audience that your brand does more than just promotion. And what better way to do this than adding insight on information that you don’t own? (so no one perceives you as biased).
Lisa Haley, Etsy shop owner and owner of LovinTheGoodOleDays.com, shares third-party content now and then.
She also gives insights and opinions over what she is reposting, and her reaction is mostly positive. The opinion could be negative if insight is added on a sensitive issue like politics.
3. Add YouTube videos to your Google+ page
Videos are one of the most shared forms of content on all social networks. On Google+, you can post direct videos and/or connect your YouTube channel to your Google+ page so any user can see all your YouTube videos in a separate tab.
That should increase the engagement on YouTube, but don’t count out the benefit it gives you in terms of a great first impression on Google+ and people who become followers. Not leveraging videos is a mistake as 74 percent of all web traffic will come from video by 2017.
To connect your YouTube page to your Google+ page, just follow these steps:
- Open account settings and confirm your brand name.
- Select a business name or another name. Head over to advanced account settings and choose Connect with a Google+ page.
- Choose an option to set a name for the YouTube channel before selecting Next.
Here’s how it looks like on Google+. The example is taken from LEGO’s Google+ page.
People who come across the channel can navigate to other tabs to see what LEGO is up to on the platform. And they can follow LEGO directly from the follow tab that’s beneath the brand name.
4. Leverage marketing tools
With the help of some tools, you can give your Google+ marketing strategy a boost. Friends+Me is one tool that adds full support for scheduling content and reshares to and from your Google+ page. You need to install the extension of this program and let it run in the background.
You pay a small monthly fee for the service, but get an option to post in most areas of Google+, including Collections, Communities, Pages and Personal Profiles. With scheduling, you can make the post go in the content feed when your target audience is the most active.
Another recommended tool is CircleCount. With it, you can search for influencers and top brand advocates. After you do, you can get in touch with them with relevant offers to promote your brand.
CircleCount is equipped with top analytics that show posts with the most shares, top engagers on your page, and more. You can search for specific profiles depending on your niche, location, or a detailed description about a user.
5. Contribute to Google+ Communities
Google has placed a greater focus on this area as evident from the news. You can either create your own Google+ Community or contribute to other Communities to engage with targeted users. The first option requires you to invest time and resources because creating, moderating and managing a Community is like a full-time gig.
Contributing to specific Communities is the same as posting content on your page. You get the same dialogue box and options. However, there are some etiquettes you need to follow while posting. The most important ones are:
- Humanize your content. Posting random or machine-created stuff may work for a while but won’t get you far.
- Don’t post at once in several Communities. Stick to one or two before posting in others to drive greater engagement.
- Always read and respect the Community guidelines. Not doing so can get you banned.
In2itive Search published a case study of how Communities helped them gain followers and drive engagement.
They received 843 actions for posting over a 90-day period, which included 643 +1s, 165 shares and 35 comments.
6. Be Smart with hashtags
Hashtags could be referred to as the new “free ads” on social media. They work great on Instagram, and have shown a decent performance on other social networks. On Google+, hashtags are used to enable brands and individuals to discover a trending topic.
When utilizing this strategy, you have the option to:
- Use the hashtags suggested by Google+
- Come up with your own hashtags
- Use the explore section to search for trending hashtags
You can include more than one hashtag, but it’s recommended that you use not more than 5 per post. The average is around 2 or 3. Using more than the average could make the audience perceive you as someone desperate to get attention.
While you’re using hashtags, you can include your brand name in one of them to get more visibility for your own page.
Here’s a post shared by Fashion Heena in the Community named “Fashion Bloggers”.
Apart from using relevant hashtags, they also included their own brand name in one hashtag. It’s a good way to get a conversation going around your brand name.
Google+ has a lot of depth, and with the revamp, the company is giving it another go. So if you were thinking about giving up on the platform, there’s a reason to stay and rethink your marketing strategy. The tips mentioned above will help you in the pursuit of greater engagement.
What are your thoughts? Do you use Google+ in your social media marketing mix? Feel free to leave comments.