5 easy steps to Google+ success

Building a following and reputation on Google+ is easy—especially when you have a 5-step plan to guide you.

Google is integrating Google+ directly into its ecosystem, which means marketers are eventually going to have to pay attention to the social network.

Those who have started working on their Google+ presences probably find the culture a little different from that of other social networks. Personal brands and company pages must actually be social if they want to build a following and enjoy all those search engine optimization (SEO) signals that the experts herald as one of the prime benefits of Google+.

But how do you get started on this extensive network that has so many features? Even though the API integrations with our favorite social media management tools are limited right now, that shouldn’t dissuade you from dipping your feet into the Google+ pond.

You and your brand can get more creative with Google+ later, but here are five things you can do each day that will have a measurable impact on your network authority:

1. Share a post.

This is an easy one. You can share anything; just keep in mind that the Google+ culture encourages discussion. Questions work really well, especially in active communities.

Google also loves photographers. It constantly gives them tools and real estate on the home streams to make their work stand out. If you have a visually oriented business, be sure to share your photos.

For now, don’t worry about all the SEO-related techniques. None of it matters until your posts start getting a loyal following. Just share something.

2. Comment on five posts.

Commenting will undoubtedly make a difference in the way you progress on Google+. Every time you leave a comment on others’ posts, they’ll get a notification, as does everybody else who has commented before you. And every time you leave an insightful comment, everyone who sees it will hover over your name to check you out.

If you have set up your profile so your Google+ hovercard tells your story, you will definitely get more followers, and people will comment on that post you shared up in No. 1 (share a post of your own).

Why five comments? Because I said so. But you can do more or less—the power of Google+ is truly in discussion.

A simple place to start is to be the welcome wagon within a community. When someone introduces himself, say hi and ask him more about his business. Get people talking and they’ll notice you.

3. Share two posts from other people.

The Google+ culture also encourages sharing. If you come across a post that would fit the theme of your brand or industry, share it and +mention (tag) the author. Better yet, leave an encouraging comment on the original post (see No. 2), and then go share it.

Now everybody who has previously commented on that original post sees your comment, and the original poster will get a notification that you +mentioned him or her in your share. You’ll start to build a relationship with that person, who can in turn help amplify the reach of your posts.

Doing this twice simply means you are dipping your toes into a bigger part of the Google+ ecosystem. This means you can share more often if you prefer!

If you are having a hard time finding good posts to share, use that little search bar at the top of Google+. It’s Google, so the search works pretty well. You can also search hashtags and even pull up related hashtags to explore further. (There will be a little tab on the right side of each post with three hashtags. Clicking on any of them will flip the post around so you can go exploring.)

4. Respond to notifications and brand +mentions.

This is social listening 101. Respond to all your +mention notifications. Remember to bookmark a search query for your brand as well, in case your customers or fans forget to tag you in their posts. Responses can range from a comment (see No. 2) to a +1 on the person’s comment or post.

Commenting, however, is always better. The public sees you care about those mentioning your brand.

5. Network and discover.

Google+ is Google, which means you can search for anything and probably find it. While you are building relationships with the general public, make sure you spend some time to put your brand advocates in a special circle, or seek out what competitors are doing.

There are many ways you can use the search features within Google+ to your advantage. When you combine them with some basic circle management, you will create customized feeds for yourself (like private Twitter lists) that allow you to stay on top of the latest in your industry and capitalize on opportunities as they arise.

How long will this take?

The above steps could take as little as 15 minutes or as long as 45 minutes per day. depends on how often people mention your brand and how many times you choose to go back to threads you’ve commented on to leave follow-up comments and build relationships with other commenters.

One big tip before you get started

Make sure you spend some time every day (even if it’s two minutes) keeping your circles in check. When they get out of control, wading through the posts within them will make it hard to accomplish these simple yet effective tasks in as little time as possible.

Stephan Hovnanian is owner of Shovi Websites, a website design and email marketing company located outside Boston. A version of this article first appeared on MarketingProfs.

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