If you think that building a following for a brand page on Google Plus is not easy, then imagining that you can build a rabid fan base of relevant, targeted, active, engaged, interested fans may seem next to impossible! Luckily, there are tools that can help you!
Since the date this article was first published, I have joined both the Circloscope Team and the Steady Demand Team; however, I still current use and recommend Circloscope and Steady Demand Pro, and have recommended them both long before I became affiliated with either company.
The Goal: To Reach the “Tipping Point”
I manage many brand pages for both myself and as a Social Media Specialist at Steady Demand and I have observed many other brand pages as well. I am convinced that there is a “tipping point” that you need to achieve before your page will begin growing organically. I also believe that this “tipping point” cannot be achieved (or at least would be much more difficult to achieve) by following people at random or simply by being included in shared circles (deprecated). While your follower counts may increase, long term success depends upon increased engagement so that your posts will extend beyond your followers via plus ones and reshares to help attract new followers. Until that happens, you need to proactively identify and follow potential fans, as well as unfollow those that are not actively engaging with your brand. The goal is to build a targeted fan base which will help your brand reach a larger audience by engaging with your content (plussing, resharing, clicking, etc.).
I also believe if you are able to reach the tipping point and achieve crazy organic growth, you will eventually also reach a plateau. Hopefully, before that happens, you will have plenty of time to deepen the relationship with your audience and turn them into fans or customers.
If you plan to use your Google+ data for reports and/or analysis, it is important to note that some tools will only begin to track your data from the date you set them up. I recommend setting them up now so you will have the data available when you need it.
In addition to the tools above, you can use Google+ Search, Communities, Collections, and Hashtags to find people and pages to follow.
Case Study: My Music Hangout
My Music Hangout was created as a “just for fun” page and community for me to share music with my friends. I eventually turned My Music Hangout into a brand and began hosting live music hangouts on Google + Hangouts On Air. I launched a website to help promote our hangouts and the bands who participated. My ultimate goal was to have +My Music Hangout become known as promoter of independent musicians and an influencer in the music scene on Google Plus. I believe I achieved that goal and have since turned control of the brand over to the Aston family who are doing a wonderful job of keeping my dream alive.
My strategy was to identify, follow and engage with musicians, music fans and influencers in the music industry who were active on Google Plus, measure, rinse and repeat. This can be applied to just about any Google+ brand page and I have listed the Google+ Tools I used, along with some screenshots and examples of how and why I am used each.
Whoa! How did you get so many followers on this page so quickly you ask?
Good question! Although I am not certain, the quick extreme growth spurt between October and December (which has now leveled off) tells me that my page must have been included on Google’s Suggested User List (SUL) for a short time. It is interesting to note that although I did gain a lot of followers, it didn’t really increase engagement rates that much (plusones, comments and reshares). My advice is to focus more on building a targeted audience of interested followers and find ways to interact and engage with them rather than worrying about the actual number – and that is the whole point of this post!
Before you can begin building your audience on Google Plus, you need to identify who they are and you should have a plan for creating compelling content that will give potential followers a reason to follow you. You should completely fill out your profile, engage with others by commenting on and resharing relevant posts, and you should become active in the communities in your niche or even create your own.
The point of this post is to get you started using the tools that can help identify and follow potential fans for your Google Plus brand page and then to measure your results, rinse and repeat.
Finding People and Pages to Circle on Google Plus
Let’s start in the Search box right on Google Plus:
This works, but is quite time consuming, and you may be following accounts that aren’t even active. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of info to help you decide who to follow or why without actually clicking through to visit their profile.
Let’s try a hashtag and follow the sharers by viewing the ripple (sorry folks, ripples are now deprecated):
Again, this works, but is still time consuming and a little difficult as well! Let’s stop playing games and wasting time because there is a tool that will allow you to take the entire ripple and circle them all in one shot: Circloscope
Circloscope: Circles on Steroids
Engaging with your fans, circle management and time management are all key when it comes to success on Google Plus. Using Circloscope, you can circle people based on hashtags, who they follow or engage with, which communities they belong to, etc. and you can also find and remove inactive profiles and those that do not follow you back. While I like to add people I am engaging with one by one into a circle, for those I do not know, I do not have the time to waste adding dozens or hundreds of people one at a time into a circle. Simply grab the URL of a Google Plus post, open Circloscope and add to a circle.
Any public post on Google+ can become a source that can be pasted into Circloscope.
It’s just that simple.
Note: Unfortunately, NOD3x is no longer available; however, since this was part of my strategy when I originally wrote this post, I wanted to keep this section for the record.
Besides following people who have engaged with your own posts, it makes sense to follow people who have shared or engaged with popular posts on topics in your niche. Using NOD3x, I identified several popular posts using relevant hashtags. I followed (circled) the people and pages who shared the original post and then grabbed the URL to import the ripples (deprecated) into Circloscope so I could follow the people who engaged with these posts.
Popular Posts for Hashtag #Music
Measure & Track Progress w/ Steady Demand Pro
For advanced analysis of your Google Plus profile, pages and competitors’ pages, set up a free trial of Steady Demand Pro.
Several things I have learned by analyzing my page with Steady Demand Pro (in comparison to some other pages I manage):
- Overall, my page has a very low signal to follower ratio (most likely due to the rapid growth in non-targeted followers). This should improve over time as I find and attract more relevant followers; in fact, over the past 30 days, follower growth increased 1.67% and total signals increased 3.04%.
- Events are my most popular post type and are getting good engagement; however, I should start sharing more of all post types so I have more data to work with before determining which post types work best with my audience.
(Note: My Music Hangout began hosting weekly music hangouts on air (post type is event) on March 11th and these have greatly contributed to the significant increase in engagement.)
Snapshot of Engagement By Type graph on Steady Demand Pro
(past 30 days)
Snapshot of Total Engagement By Day on Steady Demand Pro
(past 30 days compared to previous 30 days)
Rinse & Repeat
What do I mean by “rinse & repeat”? I recommend spending about a half hour one day a week finding and following people, including your engagers; and a few minutes a month unfollowing inactives (people who haven’t posted in 30+ days), those who do not follow back (assume they are not interested), or those who are not interacting with your posts (assume they are not interested). This entire process really shouldn’t take you more than a total of 2 – 2 1/2 hours per month, tops. I want to make clear that I am not recommending a “follow-for-follow” approach (there is a 5,000 limit on Google+ anyway) or that this should even be a long term strategy; however, until you get past the tipping point, this is a valid strategy to help you grow a targeted, engaged following for your brand page on Google Plus.
What should you be doing the rest of the week? Post great content, re-share other people’s great content, comment on other people’s posts and in communities … basically just engage with others on Google Plus. Use Steady Demand Pro’s post analytics to help you perfect your posts and try posting at various times of the day until you find what works best for you.
This platform does require time and patience; however, in my opinion it is well worth the effort.
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