How To Manage G+ Notifications at 50k Followers

How To Manage G+ Notifications at 50k Followers

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.

Screenshot of my follower history since March 27, 2013 via +CircleCount
 Screenshot of my total engagement by day since March 27, 2013 via +Steady Demand

I have seen posts from people who assume that someone with “too many” followers cannot engage with them. While I agree that it’s probably not possible to engage with 50,000 people, being followed by 50,000 people does not mean that 50,000 people are trying to engage with you, and it is ultimately you that control who you engage with, how often and where. Based on my stats gathered using +CircleCount and +Steady Demand, my post engagement as I near 50K followers, although much higher than when I had less than 5K followers, is only slightly higher than it was when I had 20K followers.
Whether you have 5,000 followers, 50,000 followers, or 500,000 followers, notifications are triggered by mentions, engagement, and by the way others share with you; and the notifications you actually receive are based on your settings, your activity, you interactions, and how you manage your Google Plus profile. Just having a high number of followers will not necessarily mean that you will have a high level of engagement; and vice versa, you can have high engagement with smaller numbers of followers. Finally, having high levels of engagement does not necessarily mean that the engagement is benefiting you in any significant way. Sure, I could increase my number of plus ones exponentially with a few well chosen cat photos, but that does not make sense for my overall strategy.According to +CircleCount, I have one of the 50 most popular and most highly engaged profiles of all the females they have indexed in the United States. The metrics used to calculate do not measure everything, but they do show that there is a lot of activity going on – and with activity (engagement) comes notifications – and lots of them. I have seen the infinity sign on “Mr. Jingles” quite a few times.
There are lots of profiles on Google Plus with many more followers than I have that have little or no engagement; and if there is little or no engagement, then notifications should not be a problem at all. However, as your engagement increases on Google+, so will your notifications, so it is important to learn how to keep notifications under control. While I am not claiming to be an expert on managing notifications, here is how I manage to “keep up” with “too many” followers on Google+ continues to increase:

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.

Comments on Public Posts
I leave the default setting of “Anyone” under the option of who can comment on my public posts. This allows new followers to engage with me on my posts. With so many people following me, it is unlikely that I will circle someone unless they engage with me, either on my posts or on another person’s post as there are simply too many people circling me every day for me to check through them all. When someone leaves a thoughtful comment on my post, I try to take the time to get to know them by looking at their profile or by adding them to my “sort” circle so I can come back to them later.
I customize the settings for “Who can Hangout with you” so that strangers aren’t video calling me in the middle of the night. Perhaps I am “old school” but I also think it is strange for people I have never chatted with to video call me without advance notice, so I don’t allow all of my circles to contact me via a Hangout.
Email and Phone Notifications 

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.

Just as with notifications, I have customized “my circles” so that only those included can send me a message from my profile. I do have my email address visible to the public, so if someone wants to contact me via email, they can.
+Mervik Haums has a great Beginner’s Guide To Google+ Notifications that you may want to read to learn more about this topic.

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

Community notifications can quickly overwhelm you, especially if you are in public or large communities. I disable notifications for most communities that I belong to.

7) I Limit My “Just For Fun” Engagement

As fun as it is to be a part of various conversations on Google Plus, there does sometimes come a point when you realize that you cannot be everywhere at once or in every conversation that is happening. I used to participate in every post I was tagged into and the more I participated, the more I was tagged. I like having fun as much as anyone, but I do need to be careful of how much time I allow for it as that time could be better spent blogging, working on other projects, or spending time with my family.

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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