I had the great pleasure of presenting at the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday. There was a room packed with bloggers excited to learn about Google+ and how they can use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, because of my failure to check my laptop for a VGA port before hitting the road, I wasn’t able to interface with the projector and therefore had to work with a very limited amount of my visual aides during the session. I was totally embarrassed! Luckily, Ellen Gerstein graciously saved the day and let me borrow her laptop for the presentation. Thanks, Ellen!
Because I had planned to do a mixture of the slide deck and demonstrations on Google+, I had to wing it and go without the tabs that I intended to show and explain. So, appropriately enough, a lot of you may have been confused by what I was trying to explain because of the lack of visual representation. In order to make it right, I wanted to give you a very thorough rundown of what I intended to share yesterday along with some helpful links to get you pointed in the right direction.
If you still have questions after reading this guide, please reach out to me. I promise I won’t bite! For some of those more technical questions that were asked yesterday, I am more than happy to point you in a laser-precise direction. Simply e-mail, tweet or share your question with me and I will do my best to point you in the right direction. So, without further ado, I present G+ The Other Red Button:
What is Google+?
Google+ is not just another social network. Unlike standalone networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, Google+ is a fabric that is intertwined through many of Google’s popular cloud based products. Google+ allows authors to better identify their content through search, share new and interesting things, keep contact with the same people across multiple products and most importantly, build and engage with an audience of people that share similar interests. The thing that makes Google+ truly unique, is that is based upon sharing and interacting with people that have similar interests, not just people you already know.
Google+ for Beginners
If you are really new to Google+ and need help setting up an account and creating a profile, here is a video I created last year that will help you get your feet wet. Please understand that the graphical user interface (GUI) has changed quite a bit since I created the demo, so things might not look exactly the same.
Google+ Calendar Integration
One awesome thing about Google+ is that it is integrated with Google Calendar. I know this is a hot button with a lot of people, because they don’t like having unsolicited appointments on their calendar. Rest assured, there is a way to control how and which appointments appear on your calendar here, courtesy of Veronica Belmont.
With Google+ Events, you can invite individuals, specific circles or even those that don’t use Google+ by simply adding their e-mail address. Once you create the event, invitees will be able to RSVP and comment on the event. Once the event starts, attendees will have the opportunity to join “party mode” to share pictures from their mobile phone to the event while they are attending. This is a great way to collect photos from conferences, meet-ups and parties.
Google+ Events can be used to advertise special events for your business or brand page and to remind your follows of the cool things you are doing.
Quite possibly the most important feature of Google+, authorship allows you to link your profile with all of the content that you create throughout the web. Once you connect the websites that you contribute to with your profile, you will start to see your headshot, follower count and a link to your profile appear in search results. This has been shown to dramatically increase your click through rate on search results, especially for posts that do not rank as the number one result.
Here is the full skinny on Google Authorship straight from the mother ship. Getting setup for authorship is simple and you don’t even need to add any code to your website. If you have an e-mail address that matches the domain of the website you write for, just follow these directions and you will be on your way! If you contribute to multiple websites, follow these instructions (Option 2).
Why Not Facebook
Creating a profile, page, community and audience on Google+ is completely free. The public content that you create is continuously crawled and indexed by the biggest search engine in the world. Communicating with your business or brand becomes easier through other products like GMail, YouTube, Calendar and Blogger. You don’t have to pay a dime to have a successful presence on Google+, you just need to spend some time and effort finding the people that are interested in what you have to say.
My absolute favorite feature of Google+ is hands down, no questions ask, Hangouts. Hangouts allow you to connect visually face-to-face with your friends, co-workers, customers and audience members. You can see their facial expressions as you talk, share smiles, eye rolling and all of the other nonverbal communication that social media isn’t traditionally capable of translating. All of a sudden your message comes to life when people don’t have to decipher your tone.
Hangouts allow you and up to 9 other people to communicate via webcam and audio with the ability to share webpages, documents, presentations and YouTube videos. There are some big brands doing some awesome things with hangouts, and also some people that were discovered after putting themselves out there through Hangouts.
With Hangouts on Air, you are able to take your hangouts to the next level by broadcasting them LIVE for the world to see. As an added bonus, your recorded Hangouts on Air will automatically save to your linked YouTube account where you can share them with your friends, embed them on your blog or monetize through Google Adsense.
BONUS: Google+ Strategy
Gaining traction on Google+ is just like any other social frontier in a few regards: you won’t get a million followers overnight, not everyone is going to be interested in what you share and–most importantly–like anything else, you have to keep working hard to see positive results.
The way in which Google+ is different is that it isn’t about pre-existing connections. Sure, you can import your address book and find people that you are already connected with in “meat space,” but Google+ is all about discovering new and interesting people that share similar interests. The best way to find those people is through what Google does best, search.
What are you interested in? What do you write about? Search for it. Find people that are also interested in what you are talking about. Add them to your circles. Follow them closely. Interact with them.
If you come to Google+ thinking you can just drop your links and magically attract visitors to your blog, you will be severely disappointed.
The best way to encourage interaction and sharing of posts isn’t to embed a link, but to instead share a high resolution photo (that you have rights to, of course), a brief summary of what you are posting or call to action (2-3 lines), a link to your content (use a link-shortening service like goo.gl to keep it trim and track your clickthroughs) and, lastly, two or three hashtags that are relevant to your content.
My recommendation is that you comment on or re-share at least 10 other posts for every post you create. Everyone likes to be heard, so if you want to join the conversation, I always find it best to listen to what others are saying and let them know you’re listening.
As you start to grow your understanding of how Google+ works, you might want to start investing in Communities. Communities are a great feature of Google+ that allow you to connect with people around different topics. You can create public communities or private communities about whatever you would like. I have a community for my family that I use to share photo albums and information that I would like to keep private.
Creating a successful strategy on Google+ requires some work. You can’t “set it and forget it” unless you already have a sizeable following across the web. In order to grow an audience on Google+, you need to create consistent, quality content.
The greatest payoff of Google+ are all the people you will meet along the way. I have made some amazing connections through this network that have resulted in my traveling to different cities, learning about different parts of the world and making bonds that will last a lifetime.
Need More Help
If you need more help with Google+ simply fill out the form below and I will do by best to get you on the right track.