Understand and Monitor your Google+ Followers with CircleCount
Once you create your profile on Google+ and begin to share updates and interact with other plussers, you will begin to attract followers. Other Google+ users will add you to one or more circles. If you're using Google+ for business, then it's important that you continue to attract more followers so that when you share content regarding your business, more people see it. Google+ certainly makes it easy for you to see how many people are following you just by glancing at your profile page, but what if you'd like to know more? What if you'd like to know how many new followers you added today versus yesterday? That's just one of the many reasons to set up your CircleCount profile and install the Chrome plugin.
Getting Started with CircleCount
If you haven't already, head over to CircleCount (http://www.circlecount.com/) and connect your Google account. After you grant CircleCount permission to access your data, you will see where you can access your Profile, Dashboard, Settings, Custom Ranking, Follower Map, Circles Map, Pages and Favorite Posts.
Click on Profile to see your CircleCount profile, and all of the data that other users can see about you. The profile data is built using your publicly available Google+ profile information. So, if you haven't made your current location Public on Google+, then CircleCount will not be able to see or display your map location. Similarly, CircleCount will only have access to the Public information that your followers make available.
CircleCount has not yet indexed every Google+ user so if you're new to CircleCount, you will not see any history yet in terms of new followers. If you've had an account for a while, or if CircleCount had already indexed you, you will see in the lower right how many followers have circled you day by day.
Before you go further, head over to the settings (located in the drop-down menu under the "You!" menu, and set your timezone. You can also opt here to hide your profile from other users if you wish.
The CircleCount Dashboard is where you can really dig into your past Google+ activity, and the responses you got from followers, to determine how effective your posts and engagement were!
Activity and Posts
First, you will see some statistics on when you started on Google+ and how many posts you've shared publicly. While I joined Google+ on July 2, 2011, just a few days after it launched, for many months I simply shared blind posts and was not working on engaging and interacting. I didn't take Google+ seriously until I launched The Social Media Hat on Labor Day of 2012. At that point, I'd shared about 1000 posts to Google+ and attracted about 1000 followers. In the six months since then, I've shared almost 2000 additional posts and attracted over 20,000 additional followers.
Your Average Reactions and Trends
With that data, CircleCount can then tell me on average how many comments my posts receive, how many reshares, +1's, total engagement, engaged spread and engaged depth. As you can see from my screenshot below, my posts are getting a decent amount of engagement on average, though they're all a bit down, but I think that's due to a particularly popular post last week the probably spiked my numbers a bit and they're now leveling back to more reasonable points.
Continuing down are several graphs that can help you understand which days of the week and what hour of the day receive the highest engagement for you.
There is a graph that attempts to detail who has circled you and when, but is difficult to use once you begin to gain more than a few followers a day.
Next, you'll see sections for your posts that have the Most Comments, Most Shares and Most +1's. Use this section to monitor which of your posts are the most popular. That's the kind of success you want to duplicate and build on! Currently, my most popular post is a recent one in which I shared an article on personal branding. As of this writing, it achieved 106 comments, 92 reshares and 446 +1's.
Another great feature of CircleCount is that it will attempt to map all of your followers on a global scale, so that you can see where all of these people are coming from. Note that it can only map users who have made their location public, and if you have over 10,000 followers, it will map a proportionate segment of them, rather than each and every one.
You'll find Your Map in the drop down menu under You! The first time you visit, you will need to click on Update Your Followers. Give the site a moment, and then the global map will reappear with a infrared-style overlay. In my case, just 1,200 followers were indicated, but it still gives a good representation of where my followers are coming from, like a census. You can turn off the heatmap overlay as well as toggle the indicators from a number to a series of Google+ icons, to none at all.
Understanding where your followers are from is exremely important information that can help you do a number of things:
1. Knowing that you have large segments of followers from specific geographic areas can provide you with opportunities to craft messages tailored just for them. For instance, when I zoom into my own map, I see that I have a heavy following in Florida. I might leverage that by talking about topics that are of interest to people living in Florida.
2. The map also identifies where you aren't gaining a lot of followers. If you're hoping to penetrate specific markets, this feature can help you monitor your progress. If, say, you wanted to target more people or businesses in Canada, you would create posts and engage with Canadian users, and then monitor your expanding reach using the map.
Like any Google map, you can zoom in and out and pan around to get the level of detail you're interested in seeing, all the way down to just above street view. If you enable the icon markers, you can hover over an icon to see that user's name. Clicking on it brings up a card with their name, profile pic and their own follower numbers, with their name linked to their profile.
Below the map you'll find a gender distribution graph and country graph. I understand that 8.4% of my followers haven't set a gender yet, but the fact that 0.57% of my followers have a gender of "Other" is mildly disturbing.
CircleCount now includes data on your Google+ Pages, but there's a couple of steps you have to go through to enable it.
First, go to My Pages and review the steps. Because of some limitations, in order for this to work, you have to post some text to your Page profile as a Public post. This is actually a pretty common method or authenticating blogs and websites. Simply copy the text provided and paste that into a new post on your Google+ Page. Make sure that you're posting as your page, or it won't work.
Next, copy the ID number for your page. You'll find this within the URL for your page and it is a long strong of numbers. For instance, The Social Media Hat on Google+ is https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/106860584597630365429/106860584597630365429/posts and therefore our ID number is 106860584597630365429. Highlight and copy that number, then go back to CircleCount.com and paste that number into the search field on the home page. Your page will come up in the results, and you can click on it to see a dashboard just for your page. If you go back to My Pages and refresh, you will see your page (and any others you've added), listed below the instructions.
Similarly, CircleCount can monitor the growth and activity within any communities that you own. Simply copy and paste the 22-digit ID number from the community URL into the Add Community field. Unfortunately, the Google+ API does not include community ownership information, which means that CircleCount cannot automatically verify community ownership. Before you will be able to view any statistics, CircleCount will manually verify community ownership. Once that's done, you will have access to the standard dashboard.
One final tool to review is the Custom Ranking tool. With this, you get to control what aspects of a person's profile are important to you, and then rank users accordingly. If, for instance, you value engagement over shear numbers of followers, you might place more emphasis on +1's, Comments and Shares, and less emphasis on followers and followings.
If you use the Chrome browser on your computer, you can install the custom CircleCount Extension. This does two things. First, anytime you view someone's profile on Google+, their CircleCount summary will automatically be added to their profile card. Second, a CircleCount button is added to your browser that you can use anytime you're on a specific Google+ post to see more detailed information about the post author.
CircleCount started on July 5, 2011, and they're regularly adding new features. This video provides a great overview:
You might also enjoy this Infograph from CircleCount outlining their major milestones through their first year:
As you can see, CircleCount is an amazing tool for evaluating and understanding your Google+ reach. As Google+ gains in popularity and as you gain experience using Google+, tools like this will become even more invaluable. Take the time to connect your account and glance through some of the reports. Please share your questions and comments below. If you're looking for more help understanding how to use Google+ to reach potential business clients, please contact me.
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."