I recently hosted a retreat for the multicultural kid bloggers, and as part of the day presented on using Google+, focusing on a parenting blogger’s perspective. I’m sharing some of my top Google+ tips here today; drop by Mia’s blog for her Twitter tips for bloggers that she shared the same day.
Google+ for Bloggers: Things to do and Things to Avoid
My blogging time is very much secondary to the time I spend with my four young children who I love to play, craft, and learn with – so I do not spend a lot of time on social media. I only do a fraction of the things I’m going to recommend in this post, but I have done all of them at one time or another, with great success – and I have seen all of them done by fellow bloggers who are very effective on Google+.
1) Be authentic
I consider Google+ to be the most authentic social media site. If you come across as genuine, you should do fine. Start trying to follow formulas, and you’ll flounder. I think you are better off interacting less in this particular network rather than risking coming across as fake.
2) Don’t spam
Blogs are brands, and people expect us to self-promote, but if you share the same post over and over it shows up in your feed over and over – and, depending on the settings you and your readers have, it may show up in your readers’ feeds over and over as well. This is true if you share the same post to several communities at once – please do not do that! Most importantly, don’t select the “also send email to your circles” unless what you have to say is truly *very* important. Emailing Google+ posts is the easiest way to get yourself muted by followers!
3) Format posts
I recently discovered that, if you put your link into the text box first, before adding any other text, Google+ usually displays it as a large image (sometimes cropped – they accept a range of dimensions and I haven’t worked out the limits year). It doesn’t work (for me, at least), if I start writing and then add the link. I consider this to be much better than uploading a separate photo and then adding text and links, because the large image links directly to your post, and because it doesn’t start acting strange if other people share your post. Typing text *like this* will bold the words “like this”. Typing it _like this_ will italicize it, and typing -like this- will cross it out. Use bold or italics instead of typing in all caps.
4) Use hashtags
Google+ is a great place to use hashtags as a way of emphasizing keywords and helping readers find your content. You can click on any hashtag, and Google+ will pull up all the posts with that hashtag, as well as a list of other hashtags that are frequently used with the hashtag you clicked on that you can explore. Before adding a hashtag to your post, think about whether you would be happy to see your post on a page if you were to click on that hashtag from someone else’s post.
5) Create Collections
Collections allow you to organize the material you share by topics. Google features your collections at the top of your profile, making this a great way to showcase your favorite content!
Clicking the +1 button on posts is nice, and appreciated by bloggers, but if you want to truly get noticed commenting is the way to go (do click the +1 button while you are there). When I make the time for it, I like to click on the hashtags that I added to my most recent post, find a few posts that have that same hashtag, and leave a few comments. Since Google+ is all about authenticity, I think you are better off leaving a few interested comments than a bunch of “could have been generated by a clever AI program” comments.
7) Build and join communities
Google+ communities are wonderful ways to interact with people who share your interests! I love that communities can easily be organized into categories, and that content stays in chronological order – making it easy to pick up where you left off. You can choose to be notified any time anyone posts in a community, or you can turn notifications off so that you only see new posts when you choose to visit the community. Build communities where you see gaps, and join existing communities that interest you.
8) Share in communities
Google+ has a wide range of communities, which are great places to find your target audience! Take the time to read community guidelines before posting, and make sure you share within the correct section of the community. If you want to share the same post to several communities, use DoShare to space it out, over several days or (even better, in my opinion) weeks. Anyone can see posts that are shared in a public community, but you have to belong to the community to leave a comment.
9) Be generous
Google+ is a “the more you give the more you get” community. Sharing content written by other people that you genuinely enjoy and find interesting is a great way to build your Google+ community! Taking the time to leave thoughtful comments also pays off!
10) Get the mobile app
Since I try to keep blogging time to a minimum, I like to use my phone to comment and +1 posts while I’m out and about – waiting in the school pick-up line. I find the Android Google+ app very easy to navigate. I have a data plan through Republic Wireless that gives me unlimited data for $25/month, and the Google+ app is streamlined enough that it runs nicely on 3G internet.
11) Share images – without links
Sharing images – with no link – is a great way to build interaction with followers in Google+ without giving off a I-am-only-here-to-promote-content vibe. If you have an Android phone, it is easy to have it back up your photos to your Google+ account. Funny photos and quotes seem to do particularly well on Google+ – but they need to be fairly original, not something that your friends have already seen posted all over other social media networks.
12) Use Your Circles
One of the things I love about Google+ is that it is very organized. You can place the people you follow into different circles, and you can click on a circle to see only posts from people in that circle. You can also share your circles publicly, which allows other people to add the people in your circles to their own circles.
I hope you’ll join me on Google+ ! What are your favorite Google+ tips?