Social media managers: We were the children who gleefully yanked the wrapping paper off our presents in one fell swoop. We waited impatiently while our parents cut open the boxes for us with razor blades. As soon as the pieces were in our hands, we started to build our toys – without bothering with the directions.
(And if you were like me, you occasionally frequently ran crying to your parents when you couldn't figure out how to assemble your toys.)
Social media platforms don't come with directions, which means that we, social media users, figure things out as we go. While our intuition is a blessing, it is also a curse. We suss out how to use the social media sites – well enough. But we never really get to know the platform.
For many of us, our knowledge of a site remains superficial. Today, however, you and I will take a deep dive into Google+. We will look at 15 tricks, features, and tools that will take your Google+ experience to another level.
Read ahead and learn something new!
1. Determine if Google+ is right for your business.
The globalwebindex did a study of Google+ users in 2014, and they put together an infographic of the platform's users:
For instance, if you're trying to target a large group of octogenarians, you might find some followers on Google's social platforms, but chances are Google+ might not be the best platform for you.
That said, chances are good that you will find a sizable audience that knows what an "octogenarian" is, given the education levels of the Plus audience.
2. Use the built-in shortcuts.
If you hate using your mouse or track pad, Google has you covered. They have a list of shortcuts that you can use on Google+:
Whether you're a company page manager or an individual user, these shortcuts will work for you. Personally, the "j" and "k" commands are my favorite for toggling between posts.
By the way, if you're an avid Gmail user, there are plenty of keyboard shortcuts for you to use, as well!
3. Optimize your cover image.
Crop your images to fit Google+'s standard sizes. For your cover photo, you want a photo that is:
- Recommended: 1080 x 608 pixels
- Minimum: 480 x 270 pixels
- Maximum: 2,120 x 1,192 pixels
Note that the section on the left (behind your company's URL, follower count, etc.) is a reflected portion of your cover image. In other words, if your cover image is sized correctly, you don't have to worry about the platform lopping off part of your cover image and hiding it behind your company logo.
4. Optimize your profile image.
A square image is your best bet for your Google+ profile picture. Why? Because Google+ renders your image as a circle.
The ideal size is 250 x 250 pixels. The minimum size is 120 pixels by 120 pixels.
When uploading your profile picture, remember that the image will be cropped – no matter what. If you have a fancy border around your company logo, chances are people will not see all that prettiness when they go to your Google+ page.
Before you post, think about what portions of your profile image will be cropped.
5. Format your posts.
Google's social platform allows you to format your text using a few simple commands. Here are your three options:
*Bold Text* = Bold Text
_Italic Text_ = Italic Text
-Strikethrough Text- = Strikethrough Text
6. Control who sees your posts.
When you post to Google+, the default setting is "Public," meaning that anyone can read your posts. Sometimes, you want to share posts with people in a specific circle or maybe with one specific person.
You can do so by changing the information in the "To" section of the post.
7. Tag someone in your posts.
Additionally, you can tag people and company pages in your posts by placing a plus sign (+) before the company's or person's name:
In other words, it works like Twitter's @ sign. The tagging feature is useful for:
- Sharing content that involves collaboration (e.g. a joint webinar)
- Curating content from influential people in your field (You can say, "This is +Rand Fishkin's best whiteboard Friday to date!")
- Sharing blog posts that quote influencers (You can say, "I really like +Ann Handley's thoughts in this article.")
8. Edit your mistakes.
Oops! Is that a typo in your post? Not a problem! You don't have to delete the post and repost. In Google+, you can edit the post by clicking on the arrow in the upper right-hand corner:
As you can see, the right-hand corner enables you to do more than edit posts. You can access many more features there.
9. Use the lower thirds tool for Hangouts.
When you watch a television news broadcast, the anchor's name will appear at the bottom of the screen (i.e. in the lower third of the screen). You can have the same feature during your Google hangouts:
For complete instructions on how to use the lower-thirds, click here.
10. Find and Curate Third-Party Content to Google+.
Lots of people share their company’s content, and that’s fine. Just make sure it’s not the only content you share. An endless stream of branded content from one source gets annoying fast.
We here at Trapit help you find and share smart, third-party content that engages your audience. Click here to read more about how Trapit works.
11. Use hashtags in your posts.
To help you discover more great content, Google+ allows users to add hashtags. Try them out to attract more followers!
12. Learn the language.
However, before you start using your favorite hashtags from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, look to see if people use those hashtags on Google+. It's a different platform with its own language.
To check hashtag usage, go to: https://plus.google.com/explore
Then, type in the hashtags that you want to explore:
13. See what's trending on Google+.
As I said above, Google+ is a different platform, which means that it cares about different things. Monitor the trending topics to get a feel for what Google+ discusses. If you can jump in and discuss any of those topics in real-time, do so!
To find the trending topics, go to: https://plus.google.com/explore There, you will find a list of hashtags that are trending:
14. Save Google+ postings to read later.
While you're looking at hashtags, you might find some articles that you want to read at another time. That's not a problem. You can save it for later on the platform.
To do so, you will want to create a circle for saved posts. First, make sure that you are using your personal Google+ account–not your company's business page.
Then, navigate to the circles section of Google+ by clicking in the upper left-hand corner of the navigation bar. Pull down to "People."
Next, create a new circle dedicated only to posts that you want to read later, and don't put any Google+ users in it.
Finally, when you run across a post that you like, share it with that circle:
And that post will be added to that circle. When you go to your profile page (or "home" in Plus lingo), you will find the article – saved for only you to read.
15. Use the built-in analytics for your company page.
Like many of the social platforms, Google+ provides its own analytics. To find them, click on the squares in the upper right-hand corner, and pull down to "Insights."
From there, you can look at:
- Visibility – How many people have viewed your posts.
- Engagement - How many people commented, shared, and +1ed your posts.
- Audience – A breakdown of your audience by gender, age, and nationality.
To be sure, the analytics aren't robust, but they can add some value. For instance, let's say that you have a lot of followers in Australia, but you live in the United Kingdom. You may want to think about the timing of your posts.
What did I miss?
Do you have any Google+ tips or tricks that you'd like to share? Share them in the comments section below! I'd love to read them and improve my Google+ knowledge, as well!
Until next week,
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Posted by Mark Bajus