Welcome to the first in a series of posts about getting started on different social media platforms! Today we are focusing on Google+ (also known as G+). Many people make the mistake of passing Google+ up, thinking it to be smaller and less effective than it actually is. Learning how to use Google+ is easy and will increase traffic to your shop or site in ways that other platforms cannot.
G+: The Backstory
G+ is a relatively new platform that launched in late 2011. It combines popular features from other social networks, including: the ability to share a large amount of text, to include links, images, and videos in your posts, to tag other users, and mark posts with hashtags. Its connection to Google and YouTube makes it highly searchable.
Although many creative business owners have the misconception that G+ is a small social network that attracts only tech savvy types, it’s actually the second largest social media platform (after Facebook). There are many active handmade and creative communities ready to engage, so why not jump in and get started?
Optimize Your Profile
1. Complete your G+ profile as thoroughly as possible. Be sure to add all of your existing websites and social network profiles in the “Links” section.
2. Choose your photo. The picture from your linked Google/Gmail account will be cropped into a circle for your profile, so choose one where your face or logo is well centered.
3. Create a custom cover (banner image) in Canva using the G+ cover template. Choose colors, fonts, and/or images that are consistent with your branding elsewhere online.
4. Be sure to set up a custom url for your G+ account using your name or business name following the instructions here in G+ Help.
If you are confident that you will be promoting your business regularly on G+, you may want to consider setting up a separate page for your business or brand following the steps outlined here by Google. Most social media scheduling tools don’t allow you to post directly to a G+ profile, but several allow you to schedule posts on your G+ page. If you are unsure about your strategy for G+, start with a profile because you can always add a page later.
You can optimize your experience on G+ by getting to know the language. Here are a few key terms.
- You can +1 a post from another user to show approval (similar to “like” on Facebook or “favorite” on Twitter). You can also share a post or add a comment.
Choose to +1 or share a post by clicking the right-facing arrow at the bottom of each G+ post.
- Hashtags are akin to keywords on G+. You don’t have character limitations like Twitter, so G+ hashtags are more likely to be entire words than mashups or abbreviations. Since G+ is very searchable, use popular hashtags rather than fun or silly ones when possible.
Start with the “#” symbol and type slowly. Choose the best option from the drop down menu.
- Organize people you follow into circles. You do not need permission to add someone to a circle. If you use Gmail, you can click the “Follow” or “Add to Circles” button from within your email. You can set up as many circles as you’d like.
I recommend creating themed circles to help you remember why you followed the person. I have circles called “Blogging” and “Crochet/Knitting,” as well as circles for conferences and industry events I’ve attended. Each person can be added to multiple circles, and you can send posts to everyone in a particular circle, so it helps to be very specific.
- Groups on G+ are called communities and may be open, closed, or private. When you join a community, you have the option to turn notifications on or off. When notifications are turned on, you will receive an email each time another member posts in the community.
Many communities have rules posted in the upper right hand corner of the community home page. Be sure to follow rules, especially in regards to self-promotion, when you are using G+ for business purposes.
- When you write a post in G+, choose Public as the default in the “To” box unless you want to restrict the post. Be aware that when you add individuals or circles, people will receive the post as an email. Some G+ users find this invasive, so be judicious about adding people or circles if the post is not actually directed to their attention. If you want to mention someone specific in a post, you can either add the name in the “To” box or tag them by using the + followed by the G+ name.
As with any new-to-you social media platform, it may take you some time to feel comfortable with G+. Take it slow at first by adding people to your circles, joining communities, and watching how other people use the platform. With time, you will find a way of interacting that works best for you and your business.
Are you already on G+? What are your tips for getting started? Comment below and don’t forget to add +CreativeIncomeBlog and +MarieSegaresUndergroundCrafter to your circles!
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