In the third post in our series about blogging and social media, we’re covering a social network I have not used very much: Google+. For an expert perspective, I reached out to Paul Biedermann. I’ve gotten to know Paul at #MyBookClub, a monthly Twitter chat he co-hosts with Peg Fitzpatrick.
Paul Biedermann is creative director/owner of re:DESIGN, a boutique agency specializing in strategic design, brand identity, and visual content marketing. Named one of the Top 100 Influencers in Social Media, Paul is also managing partner and editor-in-chief of 12Most.com, and serves on the Board of the Social Media Association.
Paul has worked in creative roles in several major corporations and agencies, including ABC Broadcasting, the NFL and The McGraw-Hill Companies.
1. How would you describe Google+ overall as a social networking site?
Google+ has become my number one social platform — I think it combines the best features of the other sites and throws in lots of extras as well.
Google+ is conducive to forming professional relationships around specific topics or industry focus. I also think that people are there to engage, so it is alive with great, intelligent interaction that perpetuates more of the same, with lots of learning and sharing along the way.
2. What are Google+’s unique characteristics for business and lead generation?
I think the Circles and Communities features are great for targeting specific business niches. Circles help organize your connections into filtered groups of your own choosing, and Communities are social “rooms” where people mingle in a social environment of THEIR choosing.
Both are necessary features to bring order to your connections and interactions. You can make lists on Twitter which are similar to Circles, but tweets tend to be a lot more disjointed than the more complete thoughts you find on Google+. With Facebook groups, people also congregate around chosen topics, but the business engagement on G+ is a lot more active — I find that most people seem to go to Facebook to be with friends and family, not to talk business.
Google+ has great search features for targeting specific types of professionals. Hashtags also help locate people interacting with the content you are interested in. Of course, also being Google, there are lots of built-in mechanisms that help people find your content — from +1’s to Google Authorship on blog posts, there are lots of ways your content is pushed to the top in search rank, propelling your online influence.
Unleashing the all-powerful Google juice is a force that is hard to compete with, and the better your content and more “pure” your engagement, the better you will rank. I’m all about quality over quantity, so I am glad that Google is developing ways to reward those who are doing it right over simple gamesmanship.
3. What are the best methods and tools for businesses to find interesting content (to generate blog post topic ideas and share with their networks)? I call this the “Expand your mind” step.
I think engaging with other people online is a great way to not only be led to interesting content, but to also give you great ideas for blog posts. I find that the deeper I pursue an issue or thought with people online, including extended debates, the longer my lists get for new blog fodder.
Google+ is great for facilitating this type of deeper engagement. You also get to see firsthand what needs to be discussed more that hasn’t already, and learn what aspects of an issue people may need to understand better. So in this way, I also think the more you engage, the more opportunities you have to perform a valuable service for others.
4. What are the best methods and tools for businesses to deepen their existing relationships and find new connections? I call this the “Expand your network” step.
I think that being proactive in your engagement is the best way to get started on Google+, or any other social network for that matter. Reach out to people online and introduce yourself, comment on people’s blog posts and welcome other interactions — in short, be visible and always remain professional and courteous. However, I do find that a little fun and humor go a long way too — nobody likes a bore and if you can bring a smile to a person’s face while interacting on the social channels, so much the better.
Another great thing to do, and something that everyone appreciates, is connecting people with other people they may find of interest. This demonstrates thoughtfulness and provides something of real value, helping people make fruitful business connections they may not have otherwise. On social media, as in life, what goes around comes around — so be helpful, listen more than pontificate, support and show appreciation.
5. What are the best methods and tools for sharing original blog post content on Google+? What are the benefits of doing this? I call this the “Expand your influence” step.
First, it is important to follow the 80/20 rule and share other people’s content more than you do your own: share 80% others’ content and about 20% of your own. Anything more than that and you appear self-promotional and people lose interest.
Second, it is very important to attract eyeballs to your content when posting blog posts in busy social streams. If no one pays attention to your posts, it doesn’t matter how good the content is because people will pass it over before even giving it a chance.
Although it is easier to share links directly to and from your blog, your posts on Google+ will then look just like everybody else’s. That’s not very unique and your posts will blend in with all the other posts. So why not take advantage of the visual capabilities of Google+ and upload a big, compelling image with your post instead? This will stand out and draw attention to your post. Then, you can simply link to your blog post within the text portion of your post instead.
I also recommend taking advantage of the editing and styling features that Google+ offers, bolding and italicizing text for impact and to aid readability.
I think the little things matter, and if you’re one of the few that takes the extra time to do things a little bit differently, it pays off. Big time.
Are you inspired to spend more time on Google+? I know I am! If you’re looking for a powerful way to stand out online, build mutually beneficial relationships, and get your content found and noticed by more of the right people, Paul’s Google+ tips are a great way to start.
Enjoying this series about social media and blogging? Check out the other posts here. You can also find my post about using Twitter for business at Social Media Today.