Update 08.12.2016: This post was first published in December 2013. I now have 130,000+ followers and still manage to keep up with my notifications!
Back in March of 2013, with only 77 followers and nobody to talk to, it did seem to me that Google Plus was indeed a ghost town. Today, just 9 short months later and approaching the 50,000 follower mark within the next few weeks, I sometimes receive so many notifications that it seems impossible to keep up with them all due to the sheer volume. At first glance, that seems to make sense – more followers means more notifications right? I don’t believe so; in fact, I do not believe that the number of followers you have has anything to do with the number of notifications you receive at all. If you compare the two charts below, you can see that while my number of followers continues to increase, my engagement level on my own posts has remained fairly consistent once I passed the 5,000/10,000 follower marks in July/August.
1) I Adjust My Settings As Needed
You can access your settings on the left drop down menu that appears when you hover over the “Home” button to the left of your profile photo on a desktop computer. I am not going to go into all of the details of notifications in this post; however, note that as you create new circles or add circles, you may need to re-adjust your notification settings.
You can control who you allow to send you notifications under the settings menu on Google Plus. This can be customized and you can change it as needed. I have my notifications set to “Your circles” ( aka “my circles”) however, I have customized which circles are included in my circles so that I am not overwhelmed with notifications by people that I do not know well. For example, I have a “sort” circle that is not included in my circles by default. This gives me time to go through it and move people into circles as I review their profiles or engage with them.
I have all of my email notifications turned off and the only phone notifications I get are when I am mentioned in a post. Again, the sheer volume of notifications just causes too many emails so I have it set to off.
2) I Often Mute My Own Posts
Another thing I do to help keep notifications under control is I mute my own posts. This can be done by looking at a post on Google Plus under your notifications (click the bell or “Mr. Jingles”). In this case, I will click the notification about my recent post (shown at the top of the screenshot below on the left) to open the post and then I will click the arrow and select “Mute post” to mute it. I generally do not do this immediately after I post as I do like to engage in real time, but after the initial engagement period, I mute the post. This will stop any further notifications about this post, which means I am not notified each time someone plus-ones, reshares or comments on the post. This also means that unless I haven’t been diligent, I will not see the people who plus one hundreds of my posts in succession. While I have nothing against that and it can be “fun” – I had to cut down the noise – and this was the best way I found to do it. Since the posts I am muting are on my own profile, I can easily scan my profile for new comments and respond to all notifications on that post at once (at a convenient time) rather than one at a time (which for me is not conducive to getting other things done).
3) I Sometimes Mute Other People’s Posts
When you comment on someone’s post or accept an invitation to an event, you will be notified each time someone else comments on the post from that point forward. Unfortunately, if you mute the post, you will not receive notification of mentions either and may lose an opportunity to engage or respond to the mention. I use my best judgement on these as to when to mute. As a general rule, I mute most posts after a few days and I mute all events once the event has passed. Sure, I may occasionally miss things, but it is much preferable to me over the alternative, which is “notification hell.”
4) I Sometimes Mute People Entirely
I use this sparingly as once you mute someone, you will no longer receive any notifications from him/her. This is almost a last resort before blocking, but sometimes you do need to silence people who mention you constantly on posts that do not interest you or who share every post to a particular circle in which you are included. Generally, I do not respond if I am not interested, for example on many “plus mention game” posts (and responding will trigger even more notifications from that post) and hope that by not participating the person will stop tagging me. If this does not work, I may ask them to stop, or I sometimes mute them, un-circle them, or block them.
5) I Regularly Disable Comments On My Posts
Because I mute my own posts, I do have to check them to follow up on additional comments afterwards. This can become a nightmare on its own if you post often. My solution is I disable comments on posts that I don’t believe are likely to get any additional *meaningful* engagement. I usually wait a few days before disabling the comments and I like to leave a final thank you comment or call to action before disabling. By disabling the comments, not only do I cut down on notifications (stray comments), but I have more control over what someone viewing my profile is likely to see as the last comment is the one that is going to remain visible without clicking. I never “end” the conversation with a blue head as I think that looks sloppy and will delete their comment or add my own to make sure it “looks good” to someone who is visiting my profile. I don’t always leave a comment before closing (I don’t need to always have the last word), but I do always leave the conversation on a good comment. If you leave your comments open, chances are at some point, a spammer is going to come along and litter your page with links or unintelligible random comments – and that reflects on you as it is what others will see when they visit your profile.
I always keep at least a few days worth of posts open so that people can engage with me if they are new to visiting my profile; however, having hundreds of open “conversation points” does not seem necessary to me even if I lose a few comments which might increase my engagement rate slightly. Of course, new visitors can still plus and reshare the post (unless you disable reshares as well).
6) I Disable Notifications On Most Communities
7) I Limit My “Just For Fun” Engagement
8) I Lead By Example
I try to be courteous and respectful as to not overwhelm others by flooding their notifications either. Sometimes, I do plus quite a few posts if I like someone’s profile, but it is usually because I am actually looking at their page and reading their posts (maybe I should stop!). Most of my shares are made “public” and I rarely share directly to a circle unless I am fairly sure they are very interested in the post or they have asked to be in my notification circle. Yes, I want people to engage with me, but no, I don’t want to be annoying!
9) I Do The Best I Can
Sure, there are days when I’m not able to respond right away; there are notifications that are missed; there are a few that I scan past; there are blog posts I want to read but can’t always get to; there are people I want to engage with but I can’t engage with everyone. Life goes on.
10) I Narrow My Focus
Whether it is not participating in circle shares, abandoning communities or ideas I thought I wanted to pursue, post less often, or even just engaging with fewer influencers, over time I have had to and will continue to have to narrow my focus to maximize the time I do have to spend here on Google+. What I have noticed is that the more that I narrow my focus, the more manageable Google+ becomes – and of course, with a more narrow focus, I am finally reaching my target audience.
If you have additional tips for keeping Google+ manageable, please let me know!
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