Google+ Must Be A Ghost Town
The technology critics say that because Google+ has not seen the spike that Instagram and Pinterest have, it will never be a true social media powerhouse. Social media nomads jump on for an hour, a day, or a week and try it out, do not get the same results that they do on Twitter or Facebook, chalk it up to Google+ being in the wrong, and leave their account vacant. Casual users go on Google+, look for their friends, only to find no one, and say they won't join till their friends are on Google+.
Obviously, Google+ must be a ghost town.
The reality is that Facebook has its own approach to social media. In a general sense, it is where you digitally socialize with people you are already friends with in real-life. Twitter is the best place for marketers to be and for the witty characters to shine. You broadcast a message to thousands of people, regardless if they care or want to listen. Pinterest is for the visually oriented and to become inspired, YouTube is for entertainment purposes, and LinkedIn is the professional side of social media.
So where does that leave Google+? And how can organizations and ministries use this well?
Unlike any other social network, Google+ is where you go to create digital relationships with people and build relationships that can last a lifetime. I am not even going to talk about the possible search engine optimization that this network can bring to your website, the fact you can capitalize with Google+ and Google Local as most new visitors to your business or organization look at your page before going into your building, or that Google+ is fully integrating into every Google property online. No, this article is about Google+ being an apparent ghost town and yet I have created hundreds of relationships with people on this network that all of the other networks combined could not do for me.
How Can You And Your Business Use This Network Well?
1. Give it time
Like any relationship that you build for your business, ministry, or friendship, you do not become best friends the moment you meet. There is dialogue that happens (this means you listen as much as you talk!) and this takes time to actually develop a relationship between you and others as any relationship would. In that time, talk to others but also make sure you listen to them as well. Build up a rapport, engage on other people's posts in their comments, and develop an inner circle of Google+ circles.
2. Change Your Goals
If you have developed a great social media strategy, you probably have figured out the goals that you want to have for the social media networks you are actively using. Just as with any social media strategy, you need to take Google+'s ecosystem into account and shift gears from Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a great place to blast a link to thousands of followers and potentially get 2-3% click-throughs from them, which might result in tens or hundreds of clicks. Google+ is more about developing branding and loyalty among viewers that see you as an authority that will develop long-term and established customers that will continue to come back. Your Google+ return on investment may be sales, but keep in mind that you are looking for them over a period of months and years, not single posts.
3. Be An Authority, Start Creative & Enticing Discussions
The fact of the matter is that you are an expert on something and so you have an authority in that discussion. Maybe you are the greatest photographer of mountains, rivers, or fields. It could be that you know everything there is about a certain religion and have devoted many years to honing your craft. You might be a technology salesman and know the ins and outs of projectors or DVD player models. Using a bit of Google+ searching, you will no doubt find others on the network that have similar interests as well as others that are looking for you to answer their questions.
4. Build A Strong Community
Try to not build a community around a brand as much as an idea. Go into these moments and ask questions from other hobbyists and professionals that are in the community and have a unique view of the discussion. Share what it means to fail and what wisdom you have learned in the process. Then take time to meet these same people over Google+ Hangouts to make a personal touch. You never know where these networked relationships can lead, but it might be a single sale of a service, a new job career, or a life-long customer that you will enjoy serving.
These are just a couple of suggestions to make the best of Google+. What other points would you include that might cover structures to your post, using photos over link spamming, or any number of other protips you have to share?
By Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith is a Christian first, husband and father next, and then a blogger at 78p.tv, writer, and social media realist. He is currently working at Youth for Christ/USA as the Social Media Specialist and attending Denver Seminary for his Master's of Counseling in Mental Health. His bachelor’s degree is in Computer Engineering and Master's in Family Ministry. For those that are looking to create a successful Social Media and Blogging Strategy for their church, ministry, or blog, he would love help you make the most of your work through the Social Media and Blogging Consultation.