If Less is More, How do we Explain (to our Boss) How Much Time We Spend on G+???
We live in an age of verification, per Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google:
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
If you don't put yourself up on the block for inspection, someone else will climb up there. The territory you want to claim will claimed by someone else, potentially a competitor.
How do you explain to your boss the time necessary to build your own community? How do you look someone in the face and say I need to do this for months, if not a year plus before anything remotely worthwhile will start to happen?
How can you say that there won't be any immediate return on investment?
The Best Things Come to Those Who Wait
The goal is to bring people into your business though soundly created relationships that add value. Defining your goals is one thing, but delivering that message to the masses is another thing entirely.
Today, that possibility exists through creating a niche community. Through differing social networks one can deliver such messages expediently and efficiently. The community you build has the potential to be comprised of your biggest advocates, but only if done properly.
It takes quite a while to build a community. Why do people feel like they can just become an overnight success and skip the hard work? Well, you can't, sorry folks. I don't mean to sound like I am crushing your dreams but if those are your dreams, than they need changing.
Don’t get me wrong, becoming a world-renowned blogger is a great dream to have. It's a dream that is actually within reach if you put enough blood, sweat, and tears into it. Just don’t think that there’s a shortcut. There isn't.
Time Spent on Social Media is an Investment
Most people know that web traffic is a great source of leads and/or sales for a business. Knowing that, businesses invest all kinds of time & money into Search Engine Optimization, the goal being to create more web traffic and drive more sales to your company. However, over the past decade Social Media has become a legitimate way to service customers. This Social element has created another source of potential traffic that can be driven to your site.
Social Media activity isn't the end all be all to sales, conversions and click thru rates. It's a supplement to marketing. It's a compliment to a system that might enhance the overall outcome. The caveat however is time. It just takes time. Lots and lots of time. How long does a person need to work in order to be able to pull back to a blog post a week, every other week or a schedule that works for them?
If a person has to continue writing, and writing, and writing, when is the payoff? There is no definitive answer, but there is a minimum date of maturity. Like a bond purchased that doesn't mature for 10 years, put in $50 and get $100. It's a minimum amount of time needed before you can even expect a penny and frankly if you are looking to monetize your Blog from the onset, you better have a day job because it might be a while. Focus on quality content production that adds value. Do that for a long time and you won't go wrong. You might not be retiring any time soon but your following will grow based on a sound model which will ultimately at some point translate into more business.
You CAN Become Successful, But No One Will Do It For You
What I find marginalizing about these lists are that they never explain how truly hard it is to get started blogging or get started doing ANYTHING new for that matter. Everyone says, "We can get you on the first page of Google!" or "We can bring thousands of hits to your site every month!"
No one says: You want to be successful? Guess what? You will have to WORK for it. No one will hand you a Google Plus account with 15K followers and say: "Ok, just handle this. My community loves engaging, you'll be fine. Take it, run with it." That doesn't happen. Nor would the person taking it over know what to do with that many followers if they hadn't built the base in the first place.
If you want something you have to practice to become great. Nothing just happens. Tiger isn't a great golfer because he plays once a week. He's great because he practices daily for hours at a time, even after rounds you see him on the driving range perfecting his technique. If you want to be great at writing content then the only thing that will help you become great is to write content. The road to greatness isn't easy. If it were, they would call it the road to mediocrity.
If you Build it, They Will Come
The whole idea is to build a community around what makes you or your brand unique. You won't start a Google Plus community one day and the next have 100,000 members. That won't happen. You must first start with 1 member and through focused content distribution you can build your community house 1 brick at a time. Brick, Mortar, Dry. Brick, Mortar, Dry. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Over and Over. Eventually you might have a room of the house built after a few months. After a while that building of one brick at a time, could translate into a tight knit community that adds value and gains members accordingly.
Do not think that by spamming people or, heaven forbid, buying followers will suffice. Maybe in the days long passed it would make you look bigger than you were. Today, in the realm of happy, furry little black and white animals you don't stand a chance if this is your strategy. Only through quality content can a person expect to gain a quality following.
Everything else is trivial, expendable and replaceable. It's best to publish 1 quality article weekly that is rehared 50 times than to post 1 blog post a day that each get reshared one time only. This is easy math, and quality is the solution.
The Internet Moves at the Speed of Light, but People Do Not
They say that as you approach the speed of light that things actually begin to slow down. Now there is a great deal of scientific data that goes into a statement like that but rest assured that won't be part of our discussion today. The point is, that if you actually have to speed up to slow down, how do you ever get to a point where you can pull back on your time spent on social media and create the "less is more" scenario?
1) Create your own Content
It is very important that you own your content, that way you can choose how it's distributed. If you write consistently and publish often, Google has the chance to always update the indexing of your page with more content & social signals, resulting in newly indexed pages found via search. Part of their algorithm is based on the overall freshness of the data or how new it is. Google likes to display new relevant content by authors who influence their community.
2) Always Take Quality over Quantity
The only way to gain influence is to publish material that gets read. The only way to get eyes on your material is by connecting with other people who will share it. No man is an island unto himself and not many posts can go viral with a small follower base. Through quality publication you stand to gain a following that wants to share that material or link to it. They don't do it because someone tells them to, they do it because it's a reflection on themselves. By sharing quality content they prove to their followers that they should be trusted and thus the web of rapport is built and maintained throughout your community.
To learn how to create quality content, check out a couple of the great examples by +Copyblogger.
- 22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue
- How to Create Consistently Great Content for the Long Haul
3) Publish Often
This is where all the time comes in. No one usually blindly shares material with out reading it first. Unless you have such a large degree of trust built within your community that your word is taken as gospel. In order to achieve the "auto-share" status you must first be known for producing quality on every post. That's nothing short of impossible to achieve in the short term. Great, you write one killer article and it's super hot, the next one might be luke warm or even worse, ice cold. Don't give up, post, write, post, write and keep doing that. For a year, at least. After you have convinced your readers (there will not be many in the beginning) that you offer something share worthy 9/10 times, they begin to trust you. The writer can build on that rapport by following up each post with another equally solid post every time.
I can attest to the difficulty of writing for a small audience. It is not easy putting your heart and soul into something when 4 people read it. However, if every author was judged by his readership after 3 months, we wouldn't have many authors. So stay the course, no matter what.
Is Less Really More on Social Media?
In the beginning, less is definitely NOT more. It's less, and with less content comes less potential readers, less potential shares, less of a following and less posts to index. It's imperative you continuously publish material to show that you can be consistent. It shows that your relationship is worth maintaining and worth sharing with others.
Why would anyone want to follow someone that isn't reliable or doesn't publish often (or at least on a relatively consistent basis)? They wouldn't. Why does anyone follow someone in the first place? To gain something, whether it's a recipe, an SEO trick, a witty conversation piece, or great pictures. There is inherent value in adding people to your stream, and those people expect to gain something if they invite you back into their circles. When it's time to define a content strategy or post schedule, take the approach of doing what you can handle but whatever you choose, you must stick to it.
The Preferred Platform
Only through Google Plus can an individual gain Authorship, which - getting back Eric Schmidt's quote – means verified online profiles will be displayed higher and thus clicked on more. Therefore, if the goal is to get business, and business happens via search results, then the actions should align with the goal. You should align your content strategy with the platform that has the best chance of increasing your SERP (search engine results page) rankings which, again, happens to be G+.
I think it's safe to say that if Google keeps indexing posts, profiles, business pages, community pages, images from posts and so on that G+ is the winner of the preferred platform, hands down. Nowhere else can all your hard work pay off in the form of a better SERP. For that very reason the majority of time spent on social should be spent on Google Plus. Granted, that is my opinion but if I am wrong and another platform delivers comparable value, please tell me and I will start to invest time there as well. If not, then post to your Blogger or WordPress Site and then share with your G+ community.
Be You, Be Truthful and Write All the Time
The bottom line here is that there is no way to fake experience. There is no way to fake a following and succeed. Faking it will catch up with you.
There is no better practice for writing than writing itself, and G+ posts are a good place to start. With experience comes confidence and that confidence permeates your feed. People can smell a fake a mile away and then that reputation will precede you. It's much harder to remove a stain than to just keep your reputation clean from the onset.
The same thing goes for the person who publishes a quality article weekly for a year straight. Build your reputation for consistency. People begin to bank on that post because they know what to expect. Humans are creatures of habit, so give the people what they want. If they want content every week than supply them with quality and they will be your biggest advocates.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
This phrase came about because Rome was the biggest metropolis of its time. Rome had a population of almost 1 million people 2000 years ago, only surpassed by London sometime in the 19th century. Rome started becoming an Empire back in 700 BC and fell around 500 BC. Circa 1190 the phrase made it's first appearance. As you can see, it wasn't built in a day, it was built in 400,000 days. (Math is all approximate for sake of brevity.) Needless to day it took some time.
So, Rome wasn't built in a day and nor will your dreams come true overnight. Work hard, think clearly, and represent truth. If you publish content like that, the world will notice. Take it one 1 person or day at a time and sooner than later you will have a nice little following that will begin spreading your words. Maybe one of those people will even be your boss. You never know.
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By Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett has a Bachelors Degree in Business Process Management, Operations Management & International Studies from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. In 2010 he joined Michlin Metals and since then has proven a vital asset in defining the social & digital presence at Michlin Metals.