Gini Dietrich

Five Easy Ways to Use Google+

By: Gini Dietrich | July 25, 2012 | 

Last summer, when Google+ launched in beta to the uber-geeky technology crowd, the industry was all a flutter.

Was this an answer to Facebook? Did we finally have a way around the famous opt-out process the giant social network uses? Was Google to be more kind with our private information?

Or was it going to go the way of Buzz and Wave?

What we didn’t expect is a Skype competitor or an incredible driver of search (though that should have been obvious).

But it’s not a social network. Not really.

It’s a phenomenal driver of search. Its (free) video capabilities are strong. And, because it’s a Google product, the search engine giant ranks content higher if it’s promoted through the platform than that on any other social network.

And, at least according to a recent survey from ACSI, users are more satisfied with it than with Facebook…mostly due to the fact that its mobile app reigns supreme.

But mobile isn’t the only reason it’s winning in satisfaction. There are several ways to use the platform to build an audience and increase your search rankings.

  1. Hangouts. It’s not the end all, be all because a Hangout allows only 10 people at once, but it’s a great way to create a panel discussion, an intimate webinar, instant video conferencing, training or education, live expert interviews, focus groups, or staff meetings. All you need is an Internet connection, a Google+ account, and a computer camera or web cam.
  2. Crowdsourcing. What if you could ask certain segments of your target audience specific questions and get real and unfiltered feedback? What if you could do it from the comfort of your office or home? Google+ allows you to do this either through Hangouts (see #1) or by simply asking questions on your page and clicking “public” so it goes not only to people in your circles, but to everyone using the site. You can also target the message by clicking “add more people” and selecting specific Circles.
  3. Podcasting. A couple of weeks ago, the For Immediate Release podcast did their very first Google+ recording. The co-hosts, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, invited four guests to record – both audio and video – their weekly podcast While they already have a significant following through iTunes, providing video opened up an entirely different  audience segment – those who prefer to watch video vs. listen.
  4. Audience Targeting. Oh Circles. How we love you. Now we can target specific audiences without boring everyone with all of our content. You can have friends, family, clients, colleagues, prospects, clients, competitors, and more. Just like you segment your email lists (right??), you can do the same with your connections on Google+. Now you can send specific content – promotions, giveaways, white papers, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and more – to the audiences to which each applies.
  5. Search, Search, Search! I mentioned this above, but it’s the catalyst to increasing your search, provided you have new and interesting content to share. We have the 80/20 rule: Twenty percent of the content you share on Google+ should  be about you – your blog posts, your white papers, your newsletters, your podcasts, your videos, your images – and 80 percent should be about someone else. This means you have to read. A lot. And you have to share what you’re reading in your Google+ page. Most blogs make it really easy for you by providing the +1 button as a share option.

So there you have it. Are you using Google+? What benefits do you see from your time spent there?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • #5 is my biggest one. All of my blog posts get shared over there. And I use the hangouts. Not much else.

    •  @KenMueller It’s pretty amazing how much Google ranks their own products, in terms of search.

      •  @ginidietrich Yeah. I just figure that Google has a special dispensation for me anyway. Part of the algorithm is “Oh, Ken did this? rank it higher!”

  • ginidietrich

    @tamcdonald Morning!

    • tamcdonald

      @ginidietrich Good morning Gini! I have to set up up a time chat with you soon.

      • ginidietrich

        @tamcdonald Yes! I want to hear how things are going.

        • tamcdonald

          @ginidietrich Just let me know when you have some time to kill at the airport. 😉

        • ginidietrich

          @tamcdonald Ha!

  • Audience segmentation and search are of the biggest importance to me, though I haven’t really dug into the first. 
    Make sure you are using the rel=author tag and you’re golden on the search side. 🙂 

  • I agree that ‘the search’ and filter is key.  I have not yet mastered the circles as I find myself constantly adding and sorting in an effort to fine tune to my interests. The visuals are magnificent but overwhelming at times amounting as clutter in my feed and time consuming to weed through. It is a continual learning process but there are tremendous help resources from the participants. 
    You summed it up perfectly from my perspective…you have to read, a lot.

    •  @annelizhannan I don’t bother with the filtering on G+. I do that on Facebook with very targeted lists. Easy to create, and a larger pool of people from which to choose.

    •  @annelizhannan The trouble I have with Circles is all the people who add me and I have NO IDEA where to place them. So there is a “to be moved” circle that I suppose I’ll get to eventually.

      •  @ginidietrich  @annelizhannan That’s why I like Facebook. There are no “who the heck is this??” people. 

        •  @KenMueller I agree, my Facebook lists are all in order but I don’t use it as a professional platform network so it is easier for me to just browse about and see what the barrister is asking @ginidietrich today or where you are having lunch. On Googleplus, I need a search and rescue team!

      •  @ginidietrich When someone circles me that I don’t know, I check their profile for cues to what their interests are and what they post about. If the basics aren’t there, like photo or bios, I don’t circle back.
        If they have that info but I still don’t know where to put them, they end up in my “Purgatory” circle for a couple of months. Where, if their posts bubble up, they get moved, if not, they get sent “down”.
         @KenMueller What I especially like about Google+ is discovering new people. I’ve learned a lot and built a large network of people with whom I exchange ideas as well as “leads”.

        •  @newraycom  @ginidietrich  @KenMueller Indeed. Guy Kawasaki (perhaps Google +’s biggest brand evangelist) talk a lot about Google + connects people with the same passions in a way that other networks don’t.  

        •  @newraycom  I use the same methodology for circling but what I have been finding is that often the posts are not relative to the bio. For instance, I follow healthcare and yet many of the people who bill themselves in that category never post about the topic. It is definitely a process.

        •  @annelizhannan That definitely is a challenge. But because people work in a certain sector doesn’t mean that they share posts about it. You’ll see more posts that are relevant to bios on G+ Pages. where the interaction is more specialty related.
          For example I work in social business, but try to keep most of my social media posts for my G+ page.
          If you’re looking to interact with people in your industry, I suggest you do a search for that sector which will reveal a list of relevant posts. (you can save the searches)
          Read them over, comment  or +1. As engagement happens, put those people in your ” healthcare engagers” circle and build your network. 

        •  @newraycom  That’s what I do too, but sometimes I run out of time so I put them in purgatory until I can figure it out.

        •  @ginidietrich Yeah, it’s an all too convenient dump 🙂 

      •  @ginidietrich That is why I keep having to add circles. I don’t have the fan base you do so my problems should be more easily rectified…not. I think I am becoming antisocial by not circling back but I am losing focus.

        •  @annelizhannan Ah…I wouldn’t worry about it. There is only so much we can do in a day. And, really, using it to post your content is way more important for the search implications.

  • susancellura

    Does it work well for B2B – I mean as a company account?

    •  @susancellura VERY well! We only do B2B work and we have all of our clients on it. If you use it, you’ll see it quickly becomes one of your top 10 referrers of traffic.

  • danielnewmanUV

    I think you are right on – hangouts and search are what this is useful for.  It is hardly social at all.  At least not as far as I’ve seen.

    •  @danielnewmanUV I keep wanting it to be social…but alas.

      • danielnewmanUV

         @ginidietrich rumor has it that I’m just a bot so it really doesn’t matter to me 😉

  • Thanks for writing this Gini. The post + the comments are a great primer. Google+ is a bit of a mystery to me, as my last gig wasn’t very social. So… not for the first time, SpinSucks provides a bit of motivation to move forward. 🙂

    •  @barrettrossie That’s what I like to hear! On a separate note: I’ve been stalking your blog and I really like the photo of you in the upper lefthand corner.

  • I’ll probably offend some googlites in the audience but I need more enemies anyway so here it goes.

    Google is the playground for the social and tech elite. Sure, the user experience is better… for them! That’s because they have all their lil minion wannabe’s stroking their ego with every keystroke. Blahhh (that was me throwing up in my mouth a little bit). I’ve seen those kids who went to prom w/out a date and it was painful to see them sitting at the tables twittling their thumbs during the slow dances. I’ll play along with googs+ when the other kids start playing with me cuz I aint going to no dance without a date. I’d rather play on Instagram 😉

    •  @SociallyGenius I’m not advocating you play there. Not at all. But want to build traffic to your photos? Post them in G+ too. It works.

      • @ginidietrich pfft… Go look at the hollowness that rang from my last two posts. Remember, I’m not SM Elite 🙂

  • The Hangouts have been an outstanding way to meet others. Very effective.

    •  @TheJackB Give us that face-to-face we’re craving!

      •  @ginidietrich Any time, G+, Skype- whatever…

  •  @ginidietrich I’ll add one other item: People search on Google+ is WAY better than Twitter or Facebook. As I work with B2B tech clients, I find a lot of their customers and prospects are on Google+ and it’s easy to find them by search on titles that match their target prospect’s profile. As a result, it’s easier to do focused active listening and then share useful information they post as a way to engage.

    •  @TedWeismann VERY good point! And it’s all so customized. Really good add.

  • crestodina

    I love that you put hangouts at the top of the list! But you missed something: Google Authorship…
    G+ users who blog have the amazing power to get their picture to appear in search results. I don’t think people realize how huge this is. We just made a post/video that explains how to set it up:
    It’s possibly my favorite thing about G+. 

    •  @crestodina And the webinar you did for us explained it very well. Shame on me for forgetting it!

  • Really, the only use I’ve found for Google+ is hangouts. I have the network a solid try for a couple months, but I didn’t have a compelling enough, distinct reason to use it. I did like the hangouts function, but that’s about it.

    •  @AdamBritten If you have content, it really is good for posting in there. And using the +1 button so others can share it, too.

  • I have been delinquent from G+ lately but one thing I have noticed. The really smart people. Ones who should be on Quora but aren’t. Use it a lot. I think because the conversational format is so much better than Facebooks. The fact I can’t make a new paragraph on facebook in comments is just stupidiculous.
    But I can here and on G+
    I like your 5 points I think with all the other components Google has I actually think it will trump Facebook for businesses eventually. Facebook has zero relation to search. Facebook has a search function but they really want people searching for brand pages vs leaving facebook for a brand site. They don’t want you checking in on Facebook and going to a brand site for the menu or other stuff. The goal is a closed ecosystem from the inside while their exterior ecosystem is meant to pull people into facebook. media sites are dumbasses for plugging open graph beyond the share button because facebook doesn’t want people leaving facebook to read or view something. Google really doesn’t care about this. Their goal isn’t to keep you on G+ but to keep you hooked on google as the transitory service.

    •  @HowieSPM I would love Facebook to have a search option. They have it in groups, but not in our personal profiles. 

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  • QudosAnimations

    Circles are fantastic. They’ve made it so much better to share information with targeted people. It is a little concerning the difference between the “page” function and just having a profile. I recall recently Google+ made it easy to transfer profile information onto pages, but it doesn’t seem to have taken up yet. 
    It’s exciting to hear that podcasting could have a home on Google+! The video aspect of it is really great, the hangout function has been dynamite from the beta version. Great post!

    •  @QudosAnimations Yeah…the podcasting piece of it is pretty darn cool! I hope more people take advantage.

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  • Ok, couple of things:
    Yes only 10 people can be in the hangout as guests, but unlimited people can watch. I don’t see any reason to have more than 10 on a panel, gets muddy. Plus, the fact that you can use it like you would use GoToMeeting, document sharing, chat, etc… and it’s FREE. Add to that the on air functions and your hangout can be put on YouTube… very powerful for content!Author Rank: If you don’t understand it, there are MANY articles explaining it. There are hugely valuable SEO benefits to this aspect. Finally, use circles to read content, not to post content. make your content PUBLIC, otherwise you won’t benefit from it being found in the search, as well as when people visit your profile before circling you it may look like a ghost town since only your public posts will show. 

    •  @keithbloemendaal You can also watch a hangout without joining it; all you have to do is press play on the live youtube video feed.

    •  @keithbloemendaal Yes…what Keith said.

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