This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.
Google+ had a hot start, but has since cooled down. For a lot of people, that means ignoring Google+. I want to warn you that is a bad idea.
Although the lights are on and it seems like nobody is home, trust me: there are people there. And they are the very people who can have a huge impact on your blog and business.
Why Google+ isn’t going anywhere
Google+ is designed to draw you away from both Twitter and Facebook. And in time, it could do this.
Yes, Facebook has over 800 million users. People like to state that number and then say “Facebook isn’t going anywhere.” Fair enough. But people do migrate. It happened to AOL. And it could happen to Facebook. In fact, former Facebook president Sean Parker says influencers are already moving from FB to Twitter and Google+.
That’s bad news for Facebook. But good news for you.
Of course I know that it’s important not to waste your time. So the following list of things that you should be doing on Google+ will keep you both productive and effective, not just entertained.
1. Create a stream of thought leaders
Because of the appeal of Google+ by many innovators, thought leaders, and early adopters, you have a lot of forward-thinking people hanging out in Google+ right now. As Robert Scoble said, “Google+ is for the passionate users of tech.”
Your mother won’t use Google+, but that guy who can help bring attention to your blog sure will!
Being early to the party, and it is still early, has its advantages, namely you are more visible to these thought leaders and are more likely to catch their eye. But before you start thinking about hounding them, look to what you can learn from them.
Can you imagine the power and creativity you can tap into if you created a Circle dedicated to thought leaders in marketing, a Circle dedicated to social media, to technology, to innovation, and to blogging?
2. Get circled by thought leaders
In the end, it’s not so much who you’ve circled in Google+. What matters is who’s circled you. Again, because it’s somewhat early, you can take advantage of the breathing room and get to know these people more intimately than you could on a crowded space like Twitter or Facebook.
But how do you get them to follow you? Here are some ideas:
- Comment like crazy: Just like you would on a blog, you should leave thoughtful and useful comments on things that these thought leaders share.
- Promote with precision: Everybody likes a little promotion, and when a thought leader sees you sharing his work, and even making meaningful comments about it, he or she is inclined to circle you.
- Share your work carefully: If it makes sense and doesn’t feel pushy, share your own work when you comment.
- Fill out your profile fully: People are more likely to follow you when you have a profile that is thorough and interesting. Do not neglect this. Besides, your profile allows links, photos, QR codes and more. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it to its fullest.
- Post with particular thought leaders in mind: This seems like a no-brainer, but you should post meaningful content. Go a step further, though, and post with a particular thought leader in mind. If he happens to swing by your profile, he’ll see you have a lot in common with him and possibly circle you.
3. Use Google+ to source ideas
As you start to gain traction with these thought leaders and build a solid group of Circles, tap into all that knowledge and experience.
- Post a provocative, thoughtful question: Ask people their opinions about technology, the future of social media, and design. Ask them what they think of a particular high-profile blogger’s position on a certain topic. What you are looking for is information to help you solve people’s problems.
- Jot down ideas: As you follow the streams in your Circles, make sure you are keeping notes on things that you find interesting. You could find particular ideas for blogs or your own questions you want to ask.
- Engage in thoughtful discussions: Occasionally take the time to challenge and drill down in the comments with a post somebody left in your stream. It’s worth the time to have a healthy debate. People will notice.
4. Collaborate with business colleagues
The Hangout feature of Google+ is for that person who is truly social. They not only want to hear your voice, they want to see you as well.
That makes it great for company meetings, conference calls, mastermind groups, ad hoc brainstorm sessions, or just simply hanging out. If your company has fewer than ten employees, or is even spread out across the nation or world, you can always connect everybody through hangouts.
And keep in mind that hangouts are meant to be loose, so bring your own drink, and remember that you can actually start a hangout on YouTube.
5. Manage large circles with Sparks
Think of Sparks as Google Alerts for Google+. Where the magic happens with this is when you track particular topics, then jump in to to share the content or make a comment.
This is a simple way to control large amounts of information, especially if you have a lot of people in your Circles. It also gives you the ability to interact on targeted subjects, lifting your profile as an expert.
6. Create smart custom Circles
When creating Circles, it’s possible to run into “Circle fatigue” where you might just throw up your hands and say “What’s the use?” But there is a very good argument for creating custom Circles.
Chris Voss, for example, created a “Commenter” Circle, which is a list of people who have commented on his posts in Google+ but are not connected with him. He then reciprocates with this group by commenting on their posts. It’s a great way to engage the power users!
7. Use it as a niche blog
Listen, I don’t recommend you pull a Kevin Rose and replace your blog with Google+. However, you should think about using Google+ as a place to share content geared to a particular, focused audience.
Perhaps you’ve been wanting to drill down in a particular area, but you’re fearful that doing so on your blog might scare away some of your loyal readers. Google+ is perfect for inviting them to join you.
For instance, say you are a web copywriter and your blog is centered on persuasion and conversion. While SEO is definitely part of your job, your audience might not appreciate you going down that path. Yet it’s definitely a subject you want to explore more and build some expertise in so you can broaden your business. The level of engagement you’ll get on Google+ is perfect for a tightly-focused group like this.
8. Use Hangouts as an educational tool
One way to start attracting more people to use Google+ is by inviting people to a Hangout in which you are going to teach on a particular topic.
For instance, you could teach a beginner’s guide on public relations through a series of Hangouts. Of course you’d make this free, but in time you’re audience will continue to grow, and so will your influence.
This way you are using Google+, your circle base is growing and you are actually creating content that you can turn into a podcast you could eventually sell one day.
9. Use Hangouts as a podcast tool
The Hangout feature in Google+ allows you to invite up to ten people to engage and chat via video. You can even turn this feature into a recording for a podcast. Let me show you the simple steps:
- Create a private Hangout for up to ten people.
- Make the video and chat private, but the viewing “public” so that people can watch but not engage.
- Record the video using a tool like Camtasia or Jing.
- Share the podcast!
What’s really cool about Hangout is that the camera view will follow whoever is talking. So it’s kind of like having a live producer directing camera shots, but it’s automatic.
10. Looking for a job
Lastly, possibly one of the most productive things you could do is look for a job—especially if you’re out of a job or not happy with your current one. And since there are so many like-minded people in the same space, your chances of landing the right kind of job goes up.
Here’s what you should do if you’re looking for a job on Google+:
- Announce you are looking for a job: Write a simple post that tells everyone you are looking for a job. State what kind of job you’d like and make a brief mention of your experience. Then ask if anyone can help you out.
- Ask for introductions: A great way to look for a job is to find companies that you want to work for and then contact them for positions. Well, with Google+ you can scan your circles and see where people are working. When you find a company you’d like to learn about, ask that person who works there if you could ask them a few questions and get a possible introduction to the hiring manager.
- Host a relevant hangout: Invite some people to hangout to discuss certain trends about your industry or invite a thought leader for an interview. Let them know you want to pick their brains about their area of expertise. This is a great way to network.
- Follow experts in your industry: Naturally, you should be following those people who matter in your industry. Go out of your way to be helpful to those people. Even offer to help them out.
How effective is online networking? Well, there are currently no numbers on Google+, but the number of people who find jobs online is about 2-5 percent. Regardless, online networking is still effective. According to the Wall Street Journal, 94 percent of people who found jobs did so by networking. That could be through family, friends and professional contacts.
So, it’s worth the effort of networking on Google+. You’ll never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find!
Whether Google+ takes off or not, you can still use it to accomplish many productive and profitable things for your business. Besides, in the long run I believe that Google+ will play a large part in Google’s search algorithm, and when it does you’ll be ahead of the game!
What productive ways are you using Google+ to promote your business, your blog, and yourself?