Let me level with you: I am not a big fan of social media. I just don’t have the time and the energy for it, it’s that simple.
However, social media traffic generation has always been and undoubtedly will remain one of the best referral traffic sources on the web.
We go where our audience goes, right?
And right now, our audience seems to be all over the still relatively new Google Plus.
And now it’s time to start learning more about it. Really.
There are many a Google Plus social network tutorial out there and this post is not intended to be one of them.
I am very much into learning shortcuts, useful tips, tricks, and advice – anything and everything to make my Google Plus life a whole lot easier and here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1. Google Plus Social Circles
It seems like the Circles are one of the defining features of the new Google Plus.
The most talked about, at the very least.
And here are some tips to help you to figure out how to use them to their full potential.
Tame Your Google+ Circle Madness In 3 Easy Steps
This tip comes from Vincent Mo.
After using Google+ for almost a year internally at Google and almost a week in the “real world”, this is the best way I’ve found to manage my circles.
Step 1: Face reality
Come to grips with the fact that you will never read EVERYTHING on Google+.
Step 2: Make circles for SHARING
Create circles of friends that you share with (e.g. Work, Family, Church). These are the circles you use to control access to the posts you write. People can be in multiple circles. For example, a coworker might also be in your photography club.
Step 3: Make a circle for READING
Decide on a few people you really want to keep up with and add them to a separate *Inbox circle. This circle has a selection of people from Work, Family, and Church. Face it, not everyone at work or in your family is that interesting. If you can’t read everything, you might as well make sure the stuff you do read is interesting. =)
When you share something, use your “sharing” circles. Did you take a trip with your family? Share the photos with your Family circle.
When you’re reading your stream, click on your *Inbox circle on the left side of the stream.
This will give you a more manageable amount of content than the Stream link, which for many people is already a fire hose of random stuff, most of which might not be that interesting. You may want to make a couple other circles for reading different topics. I have a separate *Inbox: Photographers circle where I read a few popular photo bloggers.
Note that my inbox circles start with * so that they sort to the top of the circles list on the left side of the stream. (Except for the default circles like “Acquaintances” – I just renamed those so they don’t automatically sort to the top).
2. Google Plus Stream
1. Speaking of your stream: your default setting is to see the feed from ALL your circles – very overwhelming!
That’s why I love Vincent’s tip above to make an “inbox” circle.
2. Alternatively, just choose any of your circles on the left hand side of the page to limit your stream to that circle only.
3. The “Incoming Stream” is stuff from people who are sharing with you, but who you haven’t added to a circle.
4. The “Extended Circles” are the circles of your circles – one degree of separation.
5. When you share something as “Public”, people who you haven’t added to your circles, but who added you to theirs, will see your post.
6. Use “Mute”: don’t be afraid to use the “mute” options to shut down posts that you have no interest in – if you don’t, they’ll keep popping up in your stream each time someone else comments on them.
It’s hard to see the forest behind all the trees that way; muting those posts is the only way you can ever see the rest of your stream.
3. Add More Google Plus Friends
There are several things you can do to avoid adding people manually – as much as possible anyway.
1. Add Google Plus to Your Sidebar
GoogleCards is a new Google+ wordpress plugin.
It adds a widget to your blog that will display a link to your google+ profile so people can add you to a circle (follow you). It also displays your name, profile picture and the number of people who have you in circles.
That’s what it looks like – you can find it in my sidebar. And don’t forget to add me to your circles – I want to make sure to be in EVERY part of your online life!
2. Export your Facebook friends
This used to be easy with a Chrome add-on. Unfortunately, Facebook decided it didn’t want to share your friends’ contact info with Google Plus and the add-on was shut down.
Of course, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The new “work-around” requires you to use your Yahoo! email account as a go-between.
All you do is:
- Log into your Yahoo! account (create one if you don’t have it yet);
- Go under Contacts ==> Tools ==> Import
- Choose Facebook to import contacts from and follow the instructions.
Tip: I am sure you don’t really want all these contacts to linger around in your Yahoo! contact list after the export. You can easily delete them by going into “Contacts” and changing “View All Contacts” to “View Last Import”. Check all and delete.
3. Export Twitter Followers
The best solution I found for exporting your Twitter followers is to use Export.ly.
You can also use the same service to export your FB friends.
Since I did mine the Yahoo! method, I can’t vouch it’ll work, but I don’t see why not.
Word of caution: Google Plus has currently set a limit on how many names you can import at a time at 4,000. So if you have more Twitter followers than that, you’ll have to manually edit your CVS file: delete extra contacts or separate them into different files.
4. Google Plus Sharing Options
1. Share via Gmail
I use Gmail for just about all of my business email, so this shortcut is a huge time-saver for me.
You can now directly share from your Gmail account by clicking on the small “Share” icon in the top right corner of the interface. Awesome!
2. Share Later tip
This tip is great for those of you who love sharing, but don’t want to overwhelm your followers with too much info at a time.
Here is a way to save your own or your friends’ posts for later sharing:
- Create an empty circle named “Bookmarks” or “Drafts” or whatever you like.
- Share your drafts with that circle only.
- Any time you want to share something, just go into that circle and publish your info from there for the rest of your circles to see.
5. Become Google Plus Personality
As of right now when anyone hovers over your avatar, all they’ll see is a bigger version of your avatar, plus a one-liner of who you are.
Just like this:
Not too exciting, to say the least.
And here’s how we are going to change it.
Go to “Edit Profile” and click on “Employment” section.
Add your bio under employer’s name, check “current“, and save.
This is what you’ll see after you are done:
Not a bad way to stand out…
Google Plus Marketing Takeaway
Conquering a new social network is no easy feat, especially when we have no idea if it’s here to stay (knowing Google’s past track record with all things social).
Since I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t give you a definite answer either way.
However, from everything I’ve been reading about it and all the time I spent learning and using it, I would definitely give Google Plus your attention.
No one likes to be left behind!