In 1989, Dr. Steven R. Covey published the landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If you haven’t read it, put it on your Summer reading list right now. In the book, Dr. Covey suggests seven daily activities that we should adopt in our lives to become more effective personally and professionally. One that I reference and paraphrase regularly is Sharpen the Saw (or Axe), which is a call to constantly be reading and learning in order to improve ourselves.
In that light, here are The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Google Plussers. These are the things that I see people doing on Google+ every day to get the most out of the network. These are not rules. Rather, these are suggestions and guidelines for those of you want to expand your reach, create valuable connections, and perhaps even establish yourself as an authority in your field.
1. Post Thoughtful Content
The first habit is to share thoughtful content. I always encourage my clients to create blog posts and other content on their websites, and to share that content to Google+ and other social networks. However, when sharing a link, effective Google Plussers tend to include thoughtful commentary explaining what the link is about, why we would want to read it, and what we might talk about. The commentary sparks both interest and discussion.
This has become particularly important due to a recent change in how Google+ displays link previews. In the past, when you shared a link, the Title, Description and an Image thumbnail would all be displayed, but now the Description is no longer included. If you’re relying on your post title to draw interest and traffic, it won’t work. That’s what Twitter is for. Google+ users have come to expect more.
2. Share Other People’s Content
We have talked about the 80/20 rule before, and no where is it more important than on Google+. For many people, Google+ has evolved into a social network where great content and information is shared, and it’s essential that you’re sharing a mix of your own content and that of other people.
I recommend that you seek out and circle peers and influencers in your industry so that you’ll have a never-ending flow of great posts in your Home stream that you can pick and choose great shares from. I also recommend that you set up Feedly or HootSuite with RSS feeds from some great publishers in your niche. Once a day, you can check your feeds and find a great article or two to share (and don’t forget the commentary!) If you use HootSuite, you can even schedule the posts to your branded Google+ Page so that they’re timed and spaced out better.
3. Engage Other People
Social Networks are for being social, so be social! Talk to other people. Explore your interests, both personal and professional. You don’t have to, but you will find that the most effective Google Plussers are open to forging new relationships and connecting with other people.
Start by making sure that you respond to as many of the comments other people leave on your posts as you can. Not only will it help fuel discussion, but it also shows that you appreciate that they took the time to leave a comment (which you should). And take the time to check out what other people are posting about and comment on those posts.
4. Mention Other People
On Google+, you can type someone’s name preceded by a + and their name will become linked to their profile. It will notify that individual that you mentioned them, as well as allow other people who might read your comment the opportunity to easily discover and add that person.
Mentioning other people is most commonly used when leaving comments, just like you might in a real conversation, like, “Thanks +Mike Allton, I appreciate that.” It’s also great to do when you’re posting something that has to do with someone else, or when you’re sharing a post that someone else brought to your attention (sharing a share).
5. Promote Other People
Promoting other people on Google+ is one of the things that makes Google+ particularly great. People have been doing it on Twitter for years with #FollowFriday or #FF, but due to the hovercards that come up when you mouse over names, and the greater amount of information you can put into a Google+ post over a tweet, the Google+ experience is far richer.
One simple method that many effective Google Plussers use is to simply share someone’s profile as a link and talk about them a bit in the commentary. Tell people what you know about this person. Why you follow them, and the value they bring to you. It’s a lot like writing a LinkedIn Recommendation for someone. Another fun method of promoting people is to create a quick post that mentions three people you’ve circled, talking about why you’ve circled them, and asking for everyone to circle them and offer three recommendations of their own.
6. Consistent Activity
The highly effective Google Plussers are also consistent. They’re consistent in their posting and writing habits, but they’re also consistently exhibiting the other habits we’ve just discussed. They consistently share other people’s posts, mention and engage other people, and promote the people with whom they’ve created great connections.
The thing that many small business owners need to keep in mind is that consistency doesn’t necessarily require a significant amount of time. If you only have time to check Google+ twice a day, that’s fine. Certainly, the more time you’re able to invest, the more connections you’ll make and value you’ll get. But simply do what you can with the time that you have, regularly, and your time will be extraordinarily effective.
7. Profile Completeness
Finally, the most effective Google Plussers realize the value and importance of their Google+ profile. More than just an opportunity to talk about yourself, it’s an opportunity offer help and resources to the other people on Google+ who might be interested. You can include links to specific pages of your website that highlight services you offer, you can direct people to specific blog posts that represent your best work, and you can even reference past posts to Google+ where there might have been some particularly lively discussion. You might also recommend the kinds of circles people may want to put you in, and discuss how you’re interested in using Google+ and engaging with people.
As a corollary to profile completeness, effective Google Plussers who have their own blogs have taken the time to update their blog’s author bio to include a link to their Google+ profile in order to take advantage of Google Authorship in Google search results. Regularly updating your Profile and taking advantage of tools like Authorship or Site Badges is a great habit to get into.
Take a look at the marvelous video summary Jeff Sieh put together for these habits.
In 2004, Dr. Covey published a sequel to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People called The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. In it, Dr. Covey explained that the eighth habit is to find your voice, and inspire others to find theirs. What do you think the eighth habit for effective Google Plussers should be?
Image courtesy of kenfagerdotcom, Flickr.