Hey bloggers do you want to use Google+ like the Pros?

Darren Rowse is one of the most famous Pro bloggers around and those of you who follow him know how good he is about teaching blogging as well as photography.  He has written a great blog post about how blogging pros use Google+ which provides 4 tactics:

  1. Cross promote an offering
  2. Day-in-the-life reportage
  3. Personal brand mini-blogging
  4. Close curation

You can read more about each in his post.  I wanted to add my own thoughts to these and point out that Google+ provides such a rich feature set in which you can get your message out.

Videos

For example, Darren talks about how Gary Vaynerchuck uses a lot fo videos and this is a very powerful way to get your message heard than just text alone or even with pictures and text.  Google+ allows you post links to YouTube videos or you can post a quick video that you record of yourself directly  from within Google+ and this is a feature I don’t see too many people using so far which is a shame.  This allows you to say what you want instead of typing in a whole bunch of text and I would encourage you to use this more and experiment and see what kind of engagement you get from these posts.

Personal Brand

This is another area that is often lost on people in that Google+ really offers you a chance to develop and promote your personal brand, or put simply what you are about.  There was uproar at the start when Google+ came out that it didn’t allow people to use their aliases as they had become known as on things like Twitter but really this about people getting to know you and the things you care about.  So when you post things ensure they are about those things that you care about and this will also allow people who are similar to you and have shared interests to find you and you can engage and interact.  Decide what it is you want to be known for and then use Google+ accordingly to back that up.  Of course your profile page should reflect this too so there is consistency in what you’re saying and what you’re posting.

Curation

It’s not easy to find time to write original articles and posts but to further strengthen your Personal Brand look to share things that are interesting to you and those who share your interests and passions.  Just like Darren mentions Gina Trapani you know the kinds of things you expect to read from Gina and if she is writing her own stuff, finding other stuff on Google+ to share or finding stuff out there on the internet to post into Google+ you know it’s going to be along the lines of her passions.  Do the same and become known as a good source of information (original or curated) for what you want to be known for.

There was much debate about whether Google+ replaces the need for blogging but I think they complement each other well.  Continue to write you blog posts on your platform and then use Google+ as a place to share that content and have discussions around the topics you’ve posted about.  This way you’ve got the best of both worlds that you are keeping your content safe while encouraging people to comment and discuss the topics.

What about you?  Have you got any additional ways that Darren and I have not covered that would be useful to Bloggers using Google+?

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Google Plus Mobile App Hashtags

Watch out Twitter because the Google+ mobile app just got updated and it now has hashtag support. This is a major development because I truly believe that the more the mobile app improves the more that people will use it and hashtags will play a big part in this.

Hashtags allow you to assign tag your posts with words so that people can click on them and find all other posts that have also been tagged with the same word. A very popular use I can give you an example of from Twitter is TV shows where a hashtag is defined and people post tweets about the show using this. If you want to follow along and be part of the conversation about that show you can click on the hashtag and see everyone’s tweets using that hashtag. An example would be #BBCApprentice which is used for The Apprentice series that is airing right now.

Until now Google+ had the same functionality but it wasn’t available from the mobile app. Since many people access social networking sites from their mobiles you didn’t quite see the same usage. Using the #BBCApprentice hashtag as the example I couldn’t find many tweets on Google+ using that but it goes crazy over on Twitter (and Facebook I hear).

With this update you can now click on the hashtags on Google+ just as you would on the web or on Twitter and you will be able to see all related posts.

I predict a big change in usage as a result of this. So go ahead, start using hashtags today in your Google+ posts.

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Holding private Google+ Hangouts

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Hangouts by their nature are generally open to anyone to join in the Circles you start them in but what if you want to have a private Hangout session with only selected people?  There is no feature in Google+ that allows you to do this but there is a way to achieve this.

You can do this by creating a new Circle which you will use for this purpose only and you can add just those people you wish you Hangout with.  What you must remember here is one of the fundamental things about Circles – just because you add someone to a Circle it doesn’t mean they will see posts from you.  They need to have you in their Circle(s) also to be able to see the Hangout when you start it so you’ll need to ensure you’ve got this worked out beforehand.

So the steps to achieve this are:

1. Create a new Circle for your private Hangout (if you don’t already have one) and you can call it something like Private Hangout.

2. Add just those people you want to Hangout with in your private session to this circle

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3. Go to your Stream and click the Start a Hangout link

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4. You will now be taken to the Hangout Green Room to get ready to start the Hangout.  Ensure that you select only the Private Hangout Circle in the box where it says Who do you want to Hangout with? This is the important step to restrict it just to the people you want.

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5. Click the Hang out button to start the session and wait for the others to join

Once you’re done you can either leave the people in that Cirlce if you’re going to be Hanging out with them again or you can remove them and leave the Circle empty to allow you to add different people for a future private hangout.

So there you have it, while there is no feature in Google+ to allow you have private hangouts by creating a Circle with just those people who you want to Hangout with and then starting the Hangout for just that Circle does the trick.

Google+ for Business: An Introduction

As a business owner there are many reasons why you should learn about Google+ Pages for Business.  This provides your business with presence on Google+ and use it in a variety of ways to promote your products/services, interact with customers and prospects and take advantage of all the things Google+ has to offer.  Read on to get the skinny on what Google+ Pages are all about.

Difference between a Google+ Profile and a Google+ Page

The basic element of using Google+ has been creating a Profile which is a personal account that allows you to share information and interact with their users. It wasn’t possible for you to create a presence for your business…until now. With the recent release of Pages it is now possible to use the many features that you’ve come to love about Google+ and use them in ways to attract and engage your customers.

Pages look and operate in a very similar way to Profiles so there isn’t a new learning experience to have to go through if you are already used to Google+ through Profiles. So for example there are Circles, Hangouts, the ability to share photos, videos, links, and other content you want your customers to read.

It is very easy to create a Page and you will see a link on the right side of your Home page under the heading of Google+ Pages which allows you to start the Page creation process.

There are 5 categories to choose from when creating your page:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution, or Organisation
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other 

Once you’ve created your Page you can customise it in very similar ways to the way you would have created your Profile with the ability to post a photo or logo, enter a 10 word tag line and fill out other information about your business and links to your website/blog.  Take the time to do this as this is a shop window for your business so you want to make it as attractive as possible for your followers and customers.

What are the key features of Google+ for Business Pages?

When you are using the Page everything you do on Google+ will show as being from the Page and not from your personal Profile. The kinds of things you can do as a Page are:

  • Engage with other Google+ users by +1’ing content, commenting, resharing posts.  This engagement is at the heart of any social network and is a good way to raise your Page’s visibility and attract people to your content.
  • Start and Join Hangouts. This is a great way to interact with your customers face-to-face online and is one of the unique elements of Google+ compared to other social networks.

  • Mention people in posts and comments (who’ve already added or mentioned you)

Tips for promoting your Google+ for Business Page

So just creating a Page and interacting with others isn’t enough so you know need to take active steps to promote your Page. These are some tips for doing this:

Keep your content fresh and post regularly. People are more likely to visit and engage on your page if you are posting useful content on a regular basis.

  • Spread the word. Use this feature from your Page which is located on the right side of your page to promote your page to your Circles to make them aware. When you do this the post will appear from your Personal Profile and not as the Page to add a little element of personalisation.

I encourage you to start exploring Google+ Pages and seeing what ways you can take advantage of them for your business.  If you already have a presence on Facebook then you really should get a presence on Google+ too as there are some similarities and some interesting differences.

Is your blog popular? Tell everyone about it!

This week I got a few Likes on my blog posts from Lesley Carter so I went to have a look at her blog. I enjoy travelling so the blog appealed to me and I’m so glad I checked it out because I found some impressive blog stats – almost 8,000 followers and over 290,000 hits in less than 6 months !!

One of the things that Lesley has on her blog which I recommend you also include if you’ve got a lot a good number of followers and/or get a lot of hits is to show these statistic off.  Here is how it’s displayed:

This is what is known as Social Proof.  It’s like when you go to a restaraunt and depending on how empty or full it is your decision to eat there or not is influenced.  The same goes for things in the online world where if you see these kinds of statistics you’re more likely to follow since so many other people are doing so and this has a snowball effect which is very effective. 

So my call to action to you is simple – if you have a good amount of followers and/or get a lot of hits then you should display this prominently and proudly as it will definately help influence others who visit your blog.

Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think it’s harder these days to get people to engage and leave comments on blog posts.  Best practice recommendations include having at the end of your blog post a call to action which may include a request to leave a comment which is fine but what if your blog post is one where you want someone to go away and do something?  And really ending all of your blog posts with a line that invites them to leave a comment is going to make your blog posts boring so you want to have the freedom to end in different ways.

The standard text that is above the comment box in WordPress simply says Leave a reply.  Not exactly inspiring is it?  Well – you can actually change this and make it a bit more exciting and compelling for people to leave comments on your blog posts.  Maybe you want to use the line that this blog post is titled “Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!” but I think that may sound a little desperate and other than the people who might feel sorry for you I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ll let you decide what works best for your blog and your audience but I just wanted to share with you the fact that you can change this if you wanted and weren’t aware of it.  So how do you do it? Well from the Dashboard select the option for Settings which will then open up a page with a lot of different things you can alter and set.  Right down at the bottom of the page there is a section titled Comment Form and there it display the current uninspiring Leave a reply which you change.

So now my call to action – I challenge you to go and change your prompt to something more interesting and compelling.  Surely you can do better than my What do you think?

Tags, Tags, Tags and more Tags

In a previous post I talked specifically about how and why you should use Hashtags on Twitter to raise your visibility and get discovered by others – which is especially important if you don’t have too many followers.  This isn’t restricted to Twitter and in fact it holds true for any social media and blogging platform you use that has the capability to allow you to do this.

For example let’s take WordPress – when you create a post you have the option to add Tags to it and this works along the same lines as the Hashtags in Twitter that I mentioned.  Let’s say I have a blog post that I’ve tagged photography not only will people who visit my blog be able to find all my post tagged with photography but it will also allow anyone visiting the WordPress site to click on this tag on the Popular Tags page.  This will show all posts that have been tagged with this so again someone may discover your post and your blog as a result of that giving you more visibility than you would normally have.

Similarly you can add Hashtags just as you do on Twitter in Google+ posts and people can either do a search within Google+ to find posts that have this tag or they can click on the tag from an existing post and see all other posts with that tag.  I really saw the power of hashtags over the last week on an iPhone photo sharing app that I use called Instagram where I had been posting pictures I’d taken and sometimes didn’t tag them and if I did I’d just use one tag to describe the photo. A new follower who came across a photo of mine told me to “start tagging” and when I looked at her photos I saw a lot more tags than I’d been using.  As soon as I did this the amount of new people who were now discovering my photos, leaving comments and following me increased dramatically.

So if you want to increase your visibility on blogs, social media and even apps look out for opportunities to add tags and I will leave you with the advice that I got that worked well “start tagging!”.