Want to know an easy way to find out how many times people have viewed one of your Google+ posts? You can easily see the +1 count and reshares, and if you click on Ripples you can see the shares and shares of those shares. But unlike Facebook, there’s no “Reach” metric that can quickly tell us just how many eyeballs we got on our post. And while most of our blog post shares are designed to drive traffic to our website, it’s sometimes just as valuable to have had someone at least see the post. As +Stephan Hovnanian says, not every post has to have the same goals.
So what if I want to know how many people simply saw a post?
Well, there’s a trick to it. You first have to start with an image.
Instead of sharing a link to your blog post with a link preview card, start your new post off by uploading an image. You can simply drag your image into the status update field and it will be attached as a full image. While any size image will work, technically, if you’re going to do this to promote your latest blog post, I do recommend that you choose an optimized image.
What does that mean?
Well, at it’s core it means that you’ve given careful consideration to the size and content of your image. How wide and how tall is it? Have you included text and interesting visuals within the image? Will looking at the image tell me enough about your blog post to want to read more, without reading any of your description? Does it grab my attention? Will it stand out in the stream?
My own site uses images that are 700×350 which make for very nice social media images. However, there’s certainly a benefit to reversing that ratio and creating images that are taller, like 600×900, as those will really stand out on Google+ and Pinterest. However, for most of us, that would mean creating a second image just for that platform, and that just may not be feasible.
And the text on the image is critical. I used to share images that were tied conceptually to my blog post, but by themselves, told you nothing, and finally realized what a waste that was. Now, no matter what, I make sure to add at least the title of the blog post to the image, if not more. Thanks to Canva, I’m getting more and more creative with my graphics, and every little bit helps!
So once you’ve got your image ready, and you’ve dragged it into a new status update, proceed to craft your Google+ post as normal. Normal means that you’re adding a great introduction to your article so that everyone on Google+ will understand why they should read your post. Now, it’s up to you how much you write and how you format it. I like to create a title in bold and include at least a couple of paragraphs to tease the article and drive discussion, but to each his own. At a minimum, you must include some text, a link to the article, and a hashtag or two. Remember, you’ve attached an image to this post so there’s no link preview – that link in the description is the only link to your article, so don’t forget it! (I have, and that’s no fun.)
One other reminder: if you’re using a Blog Notification circle, like I am, don’t forget to select it and turn on the Also Send Email checkbox before sharing your post. It’s the only time you should be sending out notifications of your new posts, when people have opted into a circle you’ve created, and it’s a fantastic way to jump-start your post.
Of course, if you’re not promoting a new article with this Google+ post and just want to share an image and perhaps some information, you can just share the image like you normally would.
So here’s post that I shared on May 1st to promote a new blog post: (the image is now broken, and I’ll tell you why in a moment)
Now that you’ve shared your post with an image, now what?
At any time, click on the image itself. That will open the image in the lightbox presentation, and you will see the text of your update to the right, along with any activity on the post as of that moment.
Underneath your post description, but above the post activity where you can see +1’s and comments, there’s a toggle to display “Photo Details.” Once opened, you can see the image dimensions, file name and file size. If it was an original photograph, you’ll also see meta data about how the picture was taken.
And below that, you’ll see “Views.”
Note that the View count is also displayed at the bottom of the image.
At the time I was writing this, the image that I’d shared in the screenshot above had received 10187 views. That means my post had been viewed over ten thousand times in less than 24 hours.
Does this apply to all shares of the image? Absolutely.
Click on anyone else’s share of the image, click on the image itself, and Google will take you back to the original image. That’s because Google doesn’t treat it like a link, Google treats it like a Photo that you’ve shared. It now exists within your Photo albums.
View counts are also Public so anyone can see view counts of your photos and photo shares, and you can see theirs.
What does this mean?
Ok, so wonderful, we can see how many people saw our post. Does that mean it’s just an opportunity to be depressed because only a fraction of those people chose to engage with us?
Not at all.
Hopefully the feedback you are getting on your posts and shares is positive, so we don’t have to worry about your ego here. Instead, look at this metric as an indicator of your branding reach.
Over ten thousand people at least glanced at that image and the text I shared with it. While most were probably already following me, many were not. So my name, my brand was introduced to them. That’s free advertising.
Furthermore, just because someone didn’t click on that article today, that doesn’t mean they won’t think about it and look for it tomorrow. Not everyone is interested in the articles that I write the moment that I publish them (though I think they should be). In this example, I was writing about the question of whether or not you can tweet too much. If you’re not interested in that topic, of course you’re not going to click it or engage with me on the post. But what if a week or two from now, that question comes up for you? You might remember seeing that I wrote about that very topic.
This, of course, goes back to why it is so important to have that carefully crafted and branded image. The image communicates so much faster and clearer the scope and intent of my article that it’s far more likely to stored in your memory.
Don’t believe me? Try this:
Scroll through your Google+ home stream and try to ignore the images that are there. Just let your eyes relax and tell me what pops out… a few sentences of plain text or a colorful image? Do you have to stop yourself from reading text that is actually on an image?
Is it any wonder why animated GIFs are so popular?
So if you’re getting the large image treatment in your link previews, feel free to continue to share your blog posts that way. But if you’re interested in seeing how much reach, how many impressions, your posts are getting, share them as an image, at least once in a while. If you’re already sharing posts as images to take advantage of the taller image style, that’s great. Just open the Photo Details section on any old image share to see how it has performed.
What About Old Images?
Since Google+ treats these just like any other photos, that means you don’t have to scroll through your old posts to find an image you shared. You can go right to Photos in the left menu and perhaps find it more easily.
That also means that, when you find an old image that you shared, once you click on it, you can share it again! That’s right, you can create an entirely new post straight from the original image and share it again, retaining the original image’s View count (and of course, increasing it).
Obviously this isn’t something you’re likely to want to do too soon after the original share, but what about months and months later? I’m a big fan of resharing evergreen content as long as you can continue to offer value, and this is a great example. Repurpose that image and the corresponding blog post by writing a new commentary and introduction for this new share. Perhaps you want to highlight a specific aspect of the post, or maybe there’s a trending story going on right now that makes your old article particularly interesting or timely. So share it again!
Once you find the original image in your Photos and click on it, above the image you’ll see Google+’s editing and tagging options, and the first option is “Share.” Clicking this will create a new status update for you with the original image already attached. From there, you can add your new description, links to the original article, mentions and hashtags and more.
If you think you’re going to want to try this strategy regularly, save yourself some time and organize your blog post images into a new Album.
- Go to Photos
- Find one or more images (Hint: they will all be in your “Photos from posts” album already)
- Select the image(s) you want to copy and click on Copy in the menu bar across the top.
- Select an existing album or create a new one.
And that’s it! You can now quickly go to your new album and find those great blog post images to reshare. Note that I said to “Copy” the image, not “Move.” If you move an image that has already been shared, you will find, as I have, that it breaks any previous shares of that image. Now, on those old shares like the one you see embedded above, the “image” is replaced by that placeholder graphic. The image is still clickable and if you click above, that will open the originally shared image and you will see the description and View Count just as described. So just be sure to copy images into Albums if you’re going to try this.
Success on Social Media requires that we constantly be testing, measuring and evaluating. Until Google+ provides more analytics (and they will), it’s important that you take advantage of the metrics that you can to determine what works, and what doesn’t.
If you’re interested in learning more about Google+ and how to step up your game there, start by circling me.