It’s been almost a year since I joined Google+ and I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that would listen (and even those that didn’t) to join G+. For the most part my advice fell on deaf ears, and more than half of you that took my advice posted a few times then disappeared……sigh
But the good news is, it’s not too late to join the party, Google+ is still in it’s early stages, and trust me when I tell you, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
I think everyone can agree that social media is the key to success in our business, it’s how we interact with friends and associates and how we make new connections. While Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have helped us gain new readers and kept every one informed, Google+ takes social media to the next level. Google has developed a platform that will eventually make all other social media obsolete, by combining the best features of our favorites into one format.
With G+ you have the ability to post like facebook, using your text and your pictures, as well as the instant messaging of Twitter (although I won’t pretend to know how twitter really works). Google has also thrown in a better version of Skype as an added bonus, not only can you send instant messages and post, but you can also do live video chats with up to 9 others on Google Hangouts. And if that wasn’t enough, you can make those Hangouts into Events and invite the world or just a few close friends……the world is your oyster!
Remember that we’re only at the one year mark for G+, and this is only the beginning.
What I see as the main stumbling blocks to using G+ is a lack of understanding of the platform, so I will do my best to share what I’ve learned about Google+ over the last year.
Your G+ Profile
Let’s start at the beginning with your profile. Before you go out into the world and start adding people to your circles, there are a few things you need to do first. The most damaging thing you can do to yourself on G+ is to add people to your circles without telling them who you are. With many G+ users, you’ll only get one chance to be added to their circles, and if you’re ignored on your first attempt, it’s going to take a lot of work on your part to win someone back.
There are days I get over 100 new followers on G+, and if the first thing I see when I open a profile is a blue-head, it tells me that the person was too lazy to add a picture to their profile, and I’ll usually hit the ignore button. Now let’s talk about your profile pic!
Do Not, let me repeat myself, Do Not use an image that looks like crap. You know the ones I’m talking about, the images that are so small that they won’t even enlarge to a decent profile pic. Using something that looks bad is even worse than being a blue-head. When I see a totally blurry pixelated image, if I don’t already know you I ignore you. If you don’t want to use your own image, then use a nice food image or your logo instead, just make sure it looks reasonably good when you view it in your profile!
Now here’s another point to ponder, we’re food bloggers and we’re trying to attract real people to read our posts, am I right? Why are so many bloggers hesitant to use a picture of themselves on their page? People want to connect with you, and a good way to do that is to let them see what you look like…….it’s more personal that way, more like a friend talking to them instead of faceless somebody.
Now let’s continue setting up your profile. You’ve added your profile pic, and now is a good time to add in some of your food images, you don’t have to go crazy but you should have some images posted. You can create as many albums as you like, just make sure to mark them viable to the public. This is also a good time to pick the images that you want at the top of your profile page, they will go into your scrapbook album. There is also a new feature that allows you upgrade to a cover photo, which lets you use one image on your header instead of five, you could even use your blog header. Let’s move on.
You should be on the About page editing your profile. If you’re using your personal page, put your blog name in your Tagline. If you’re using a brand page, then add in any Tagline you may already have, if not have fun with it! Now, I know some of you want to know at this point if they should be using a brand page. That’s a good question, and one I don’t really have a good answer for. I don’t use a brand page, because I am my brand. So for me it makes sense to just use my name, but even if your name is not your brand name, I still think using your own name with your blog name as the Tagline is a better option. Here’s my reasoning.
Brands can only follow other brands, that means you can’t follow any individual people, which leaves you very limited in who you can follow. You see the way it’s set up now, you can’t follow individuals unless they follow you first, and you need to follow individuals, that’s where you’re going to pick up your new readers. So if your dead set on using a brand page, that’s okay. It just means you’re going to have to do twice as much work and promote your brand page from your personal page as well. That’s twice the work twice the posts, making it repetitive, which isn’t always a good thing (we’ll get to that later). Let’s get back to your profile.
You need to write a decent introduction, I try to use the same intro anytime I’m asked for one, If you already have a good bio just copy and paste it into this section.
Remember, this is about personal relationships with your readers and followers, they want to know who you are, so don’t be shy!
We move onto bragging rights, and if your at a loss, sometimes surviving the 80’s is good enough, get creative! After that, you need to list your occupation, which can be as simple as the owner of your blog. Under employment, again just use your blog if want to, while I stress telling people about yourself, I don’t always recommend telling them everything, so if you have a day job unless you’re bragging don’t feel compelled to list it. The rest of the profile is pretty self explanatory, and please give an email address. People need to know how to contact you if they have a question about your post, or life in general. It’s okay to have fun with some of the answers on your profile, everything doesn’t have to be black and white.
That brings us to the links, which are so very important, for more reasons than just listing your other locations where you can be found. Think of them as bonus points on the Google search engines, so list all of your social networks, blogs and any other links you have.
Your Profile is now complete, you’re not a blue-head and your followers know a little about you now, you’ve become a real person! You should even have some images up in your albums, so followers can see how creative and talented you are! Congratulations, now you won’t be ignored!
Your G+ Posts
Posting consistently is another great way to get people to follow you, and one thing to remember is that for the folks on Google+ all of your posts are new posts.
That’s right, you have an archive of older posts that will all be new posts to most of your followers on G+. I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time to post, it’s as easy to post on G+ as it is on Facebook, you add your link, pick out your image, write a few lines and post. Now here is how you do it.
1. Choose the add link thingy in the share whats new box on your profile page, and put in your link in the box that appears, it will set your posts.
2. When you hover over the image, you’ll notice little arrows that will let you move through the images on that post, so you can pick an image to use, don’t leave it blank and don’t leave your logo as the picture! People eat with their eyes and a good picture of your creation will get noticed, your logo will not!
3. Where it says share, choose to make it Public!! Do not share this only to your circles or certain cirlces, you want new people to see this, if you don’t share it to the public only the people already in your circles will see it, and that makes no sense at all. The other problem with sharing to circles, is that they will also be notified that you shared something with them, and if you do this too may times, you’ll find yourself ignored. Over sharing can be obnoxious, so only do it if you have something truly important to say, not just to promote yourself.
So remember share to public, it really is the best choice overall, that’s all there is to it.
Now there are some guidelines for posting, that I would like to share with you. I already told you that sharing something directly can be considered sort of obnoxious, and part of the reason is depending upon how it’s set up you can also be sending out email notices. I’m sure everyone knows as well as I do that the last thing we need is another email, especially if it’s something that really doesn’t interest us. We love our friends but we don’t need more clutter in our inbox!
The other problem that you can have with posting is over posting. I mentioned that you can post all of your old posts as new posts on Google+; you just don’t want to post them all on the same day (can you say spam)! If you’re new to G+ you can post two or three, but don’t get carried away, remember its consistency and quality, never quantity! You’re much better off posting your own material just once a day.
Again, it’s important to realize that G+ is not twitter, or a notification system like Foodbuzz, share your post only once. I often see bloggers re-posting their G+ post, over and over again, it’s not a good practice, and its also a good way to get ignored or blocked. If you’re a good Plusser, other Plussers will re-share your post, which will give you more exposure on Google+. Also when you leave comments for other plussers, it takes their post back up to the top of the stream, where more Plussers will see it. (if you haven’t figured it out yet G+ users are called Plussers).
Another point to remember is when you leave comments for others, its important that you add their name into the post as it reads on G+, such as my G+ name, +Chef Dennis Littley. You also want to add the original plussers name into the text box on posts that you re-share. When you re-share remember to re-share to public, the only time you won’t be able to do this is if the post your re-sharing was only shared with circles. Then you can only share it to your extended circles.
The reason you want to place the plussers name in the post, is so they reciprocate with your name, when they thank you, or when they mention you. Every time your G+ name is mentioned, you’ll get bonus points in the search engine……..and that my friends is why it’s important. The more you mention others names , the more your name will be mentioned and that will lead to more exposure in the Google search engine.
So in order to get more exposure, you need to leave comments, always +1 your friends, mention Plussers by their +name, and re-share posts that you like. Sharing other Plussers posts, is the easiest way to get your posts shared, plus its good exposure for you as well. You will find that Google + users will look forward to your shares, because they know your posts are worth reading, and you re-post good content. This is a perfect example of do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
Your G+ Account Page
At the top of your G+ page in the right corner is your name, click on your name, and then on account, this will bring up your account settings. On the sidebar you will find different headings. The only heading you need to concern yourself with is Google+. On this page you will adjust your settings on who can interact with you, and what you’re notified about. You really want to be notified about everything, except for comments that are left after your comment. It’s good to know just about everything else as it happens, but you can decide what’s best for you. Take some time and consider your options for these settings.
The products page has all of your google options in one place, and since I always forget how to get to my feed burner, this makes life easy. Take a few minutes to go over the products page there may be some options you didn’t know about.
Whats New on G+
I touched briefly on the G+ hangouts, but this is definitely an area that you need to explore. Whether your gathering your family together, or holding a conference with fellow bloggers, Google has given us an amazing tool to use with the Hangouts. In the hangout, up to 10 people can video chat or even share a meal together, no matter where in the world they’re at. All you need is a web cam and a high speed Internet connection.
I’ve been using the hangouts, teaching cooking classes to Plussers around the world, it boggles my mind! Google has made hangouts even more amazing by allowing you to schedule them as Events, inviting your friends, your family or the world. If you’ve got something to share with the community or the world, this is a great platform to do it from. Not only can you video chat with 9 friends, but everyone else you invite can watch.
When you make your event live, you’ll even get a You Tube recording of it. Simply amazing!
Google has another new area on your G+ page when you hover over more, you can choose local. Local will show you what’s going on in your area, and list restaurants for you to review. Google now owns Zagat and they are looking for professionals in the food industry to help them by reviewing restaurants in their area. This is something you want to do……bonus points……remember them? It’s another opportunity to have your name come up in the search engines!
Google has made available another great tool to help us get more exposure and attention on their search engine and that is Google+ Authorhip. Make sure you check out that link to learn more about it and how to use it.
Questions about G+
One of the questions that come’s up frequently is why are “Random People are following me”. It’s okay if people you don’t know follow you, that can be a good thing. You never know where a new reader might come from, or who that new follower is. Of course that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. You can always hit ignore and if they start interacting with you and you like what they’re saying you can always add them to your circles later.
Since we’re talking about circles, I have some advice. Set up your circles before you start getting a lot of followers, it will be much easier in the long run. I have one for family, one for business, and about 10 specialized circles, and one big one I throw everyone I don’t really know in. I also have one circle for people I don’t really want to get rid of, there nice people but either they post too much , or post the same things over and over again, they go in my special circle. There is a very important reason to do that.
When you click on your home page, at the top of the page there will be a few of your circles listed, click on more and they all will appear. Now open up your circle of over posters and you’ll see a slider button on the top right, use this slider to control how much shows up in your stream from the circle. Of course it will work for all of your circles, that way you get to customize your stream.
I love spending time going through my stream, I have some really great tech people that I follow so I stay up to date on all the new advances, photographers, social media people, and so much more. While it’s great to connect with your foodie friends, you want to diversify and expand your interests in order to get new followers and readers.
Google has been doing a good job on keeping spammers out of G+, lets hope it stays that way.
You will of course from time to time run into that one crazy person that you don’t want anything to do with. That’s really easy to take care of, all you have to do is block them. When you block them you can also report them, if they are being troublesome. By blocking them , they no longer can comment on your posts, nor will they see your posts in their stream and you will not see their posts in your stream. You also have the option to report them for a variety of things, and Google does take this seriously. You can find the links to block or report underneath the followers on the offenders profile page.
I feel like I could go on for another few pages, but this is a lot of content to digest at one time, so lets call this Part One of my Google+ Users Guide. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get started using G+. You won’t start seeing too much in the way of results for about three months, but if you use G+ as I have outlined, and become a good Plusser, you will reap the benefits. Google+ is still in its early stages, and this is the perfect time to get yourself entrenched before it really starts to take off.
I would like to mention that Google has offices in many cities world wide, and they’re just waiting for you to contact them. They will help you in any way they can. We had a wonderful meet up in their Philadelphia office, and they were very helpful and responsive to our needs. Contact them if there local, you’ll be very happy you did!
If you still have questions here is a great resource for G+ Learn More Google+ Page, or feel free to contact me and I’ll do the best I can to answer.
Thanks for stopping by!