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How to Increase Your Google+ Followers

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My journey to 10,000 Google Plus followers has been an interesting one, which is why I have decided to talk to you about how to increase your Google Plus followers.

I didn’t set out with such a target in mind though, quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to networking and relationships, whether they are in real life or on Social Media platforms such as Google Plus.

I could have followed hundreds or thousands of users in the hope that they’d follow me back, but that’s just numbers. There’s a disproportionate amount of quality amongst the quantity.

Actually, I sought out some accounts from Google’s recommended list and listened for a while to start with. I spent some time observing the behaviour and etiquette of those users to learn how best to engage.

As with Twitter, merely following accounts won’t get your attention. You’re merely eavesdropping. Most power users won’t even know you’re there. And why should they?

Even now, the alerts that users have followed me are mostly ignored. Why? Social is about being sociable. Google+ is about conversations, it’s about relationships and trust. Users that follow you back on Google Plus just because you followed them (or vice versa) are unlikely to engage or even read your content, in my experience.

You can only build relationships on Google Plus by joining in the conversation.

My Google Plus follower count started growing along with the mentions and the +1s from a number of “power users”. Not by accident. These were users I’d identified as the cool crowd who knew the ropes and were succeeding with Google Plus already.

In joining in the conversation, by adding my own thoughts and considerations, I began to form relationships based on trust with some of those already with thousands or tens of thousands of Google Plus followers.

I began to give without expecting anything in return. Their content was interesting, valuable and helpful so I reshared it. Short guides on how to use Google Plus, tips and tricks that helped all users get more from the platform as it grew and evolved.

Content I was reading on other sites relevant to our own digital marketing industry was also added into the mix.

I joined relevant Communities and got involved in conversations there about Social Media, Pay Per Click advertising and SEO (my areas of passion, interest, and expertise). Resharing posts helped me gain a reputation for good engagement and shared content, though not all of it was our own. It needn’t be. That’s the point of the sharing economy – sharing builds trust with the author and builds a relationship.

When it came to sharing our own original content, those same relationships meant that it was re-shared by popular users to large groups of Google+ followers who trusted their content too. That helped gain followers and increase my own audience further.

Surpassing the first couple of thousand followers made the account “tip”. All at once, the daily increase of followers grew, sometimes gaining 70-80 each day.

Being engaged in those communities and conversations drew the attention of circle builders and sharers and my profile was shared, reshared and reshared in waves across Google Plus, accruing followers as they spread.

I joined in with these for a time. “Reshare to be included next time”. It’s tempting. It’s easy. It’s compelling if you’re just chasing the numbers, but most of it isn’t valuable. I quit being quite so attentive to circle-sharing and stopped the resharing of those circles at around 7,000 followers.

The numbers weren’t really my agenda.

Success needs people to follow because they respect you, your opinion and your content. When some very kind people include my profile in those shared circles, I politely thank them. I am genuinely grateful for inclusion, but the quality of followers is far more important than quantity.

The quantity of +1s, comments and reshares of my Google+ posts crept up with the follower count. What’s much more important though is that engagement did too. At this point, I just kept on keeping on.

I kept sharing, kept engaging with those I’d built relationships with, kept on thanking the people kindly including me in circles. Every so often, I’d check the follower count, more to celebrate a milestone than feeling that it was an achievement – it’s too easy to focus on the numbers and I’m as guilty as anyone else of doing this from time to time because it’s a simple, recognisable metric. But it isn’t my focus. There isn’t a simple metric for my focus.

Is there a metric for the person you choose to marry? Is there some scoring system that’s plain and simple that says you’ll be happy together for the rest of your lives? Of course not. This may be an entirely different scale, but Social, including Google Plus, is about the relationships. Relationships you must invest in to get the most out of.

It’s impossible to have a highly invested, strong relationship with 1,000 people, let alone 10,000 people.

It’s important to choose where to invest time and effort in to relationships. Much as we’d all like to be, we can’t possibly be “all things to all men”. Focus on the relationships you value most and which are of the most value to you.

Recommended Google Plus startup activity:

  • Make sure you have a bio which explains clearly who you are, what you’re interested in and what subjects you’re relevant for; “You should follow me for….” is fine.
  • Rid yourself of the “blue head”. Since this is all about relationships, use a clear, face-on, picture of your face, not a full body shot or some moody face-in-hands or side of face to camera cliché. Set yourself a different background image, starting with one Google provides is fine to start with, just not the default – it makes you look like a newbie.
  • Join 5 communities which are relevant to your interests and establish and circle five people or pages in those communities which regularly contribute good content, avoiding those which over share – those guys will just bloat your timeline with stuff you don’t want.
  • Listen. Pay attention. Watch and learn how people communicate and interact and what sort of content gets the most attention in those communities.

Recommended Google Plus daily activity

  • Once you’ve established who are the good guys you want to interact with and the communities, you’re ready to step into the breach.
  • Publicly reshare a few posts you found valuable and you feel would be valuable to your audience (this is small so far, but start making this a habit).
  • Reshare two valuable posts into at least one of the communities you’re targeting, rotating each day. They can be the same or different posts from those above.
  • When you share, mention the author of the original post and the person who shared it. It’s just polite and both of those people will be more likely to be alerted of your gratitude. Also add your own commentary in the share, your own thoughts about why this is excellent, or why you disagree, or your own experience of the same thing. Once you have some relationships with others, you can mention those people in order to include them in the conversation.
  • Comment on five posts or reply to others who have, adding your own opinion, making sure to mention those you’re replying to. Those users will be alerted that you mentioned them and most will reply back, or at least +1 your comment.
  • Circle five people or pages you’ve established are sharing good stuff and engage on posts and have common interests to your own.
  • Maintain focus on your core subjects but have some fun too. The fun stuff can often be more engaging and help you create and strengthen relationships as much as the serious stuff; look out for #StarWarsTuesday or #Caturday and others – there are many of these and most power users join in at least one of them. Try out the photo communities for some inspiring images to share. There are some truly amazing images to be found on Google+.

Using this post and Learning how to increase your Google Plus followers can help you take your Google Plus account to the next step:

My progress chart is at: http://www.circlecount.com/p/+MarkTillison?

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