How to Use Engagement to Market on Google+

As a marketer, you’ll hear the word engagement used quite frequently with reference to social media. Engagement is what you do to attract your fans’ attention and encourage them to respond to you — and what they do in response. On a Google+ or Facebook Page, you engage fans by finding ways to get them to comment, +1, or share your post.

In short, engagement can be anything you do to get your customers doing things to accomplish your goals.

  • On Facebook, your goal for engagement is generally to get people commenting and liking posts so that your posts are more likely to appear in their friends’ news feeds.

  • On Google+, every post automatically appears in the news feed — so getting people to comment on or +1 posts on Google+ may not give you the same boost that it does on Facebook. Also, the comments people make as they comment — or the +1s people make — don’t appear explicitly, as they do on Facebook.

Of course, getting followers to comment and +1 your posts does have an effect. Remember that the power of Google+ is Google. Everything you make happen on Google+ affects other Google products in some way.

  • In the case of comments and +1s and even shares, those “actions” cause your posts to appear more prominently in Google.com search for those individuals’ friends. This can be a very powerful way to get your website to rank well in Google.

  • The more you get your followers to comment, +1, and share your page, the better relationship you build with them and the more they’ll come back.

There are infinite ways to get your followers and customers on Google+ to engage with your Google+ Page or the personal profiles of your employees, and content authors. Here are a few:

  • Ask a question. If you can find questions that tug at the heartstrings or that will get your audience agreeing or disagreeing with each other, you’ll typically have more comments. More comments typically lead to more +1s and shares. More of those can potentially even get your post in the What’s Hot section of Google+, which brings more attention to your posts.

  • Use classic “test” questions. Think back to high school or college. Remember the tests you took — multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and true-or-false. These types of questions can all get people responding. Even on true-or-false questions, people never want to accept just true or false answers. They often want to explain why they said what they did. Also consider open-ended questions.

  • Describe in “x” words. This is a fun approach — “In three words, describe what you think about x.” You’ll find people like to be creative, and enjoy showing off for their friends. Use this human characteristic to your advantage, and make posting a game for your followers.

  • Post pictures and videos. Typically, posts with pictures, videos, and multimedia to draw your audience’s attention do better than plain text. People are very visual, especially on Google+, which focuses so much on photography and images. You may consider Google’s own meme generator for adding catchy text to your images that people can share.

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  • Tie your brand to current events. The more timely and relevant your message to your audience, the more they’re going to respond and share. If there is a current event you can tie into, find ways to fit your brand into that event. Stay respectful and classy. Follow Google+’s trending terms if you’re ever uncertain, and tie your posts to those — there are always eyes on trending terms.

  • Ask your followers to do what you want them to do. When in doubt, ask. Most of the time your subscribers don’t know what to do when you post. Sometimes just a “+1 if you agree!” can get more people to +1 your posts than if you just assume that folks who like your post will know to click that +1 button.

  • Set up scavenger hunts. You can utilize online scavenger hunts on Google+. The goal is to set a list of things they have to find and post on Google+, and then tag your page, or utilize a hashtag or common term that others can search for. Because you’re behind the scavenger hunt, people naturally come back to you to find out what all their friends are doing.

Above all, make sure you’re always tracking the response to each post. Google+ currently doesn’t include any response-tracking tools — but you can still use a spreadsheet to track the methods you use in each post, and how many comments, +1s, and shares result from your efforts. Then you can adapt your approach.

An article’s search ranking is influenced by a number of factors — most notably the number of websites that link to the article’s URL and the keywords identifying that URL. Those with the greatest search ranking end up ranking higher in search results.

Not only do links affect the ranking of a site, but the number of people interacting, commenting, and +1’ing a site can also affect its ranking. Social is the new SEO. Here are two ways to encourage positive engagement:

  • In the organic search results: Sites and articles with more +1s and shares on Google+ can rank naturally higher than sites and articles that have a similar search ranking but don’t have the same engagement. Be sure to test this and you may see similar results. This is affected even without users logged in to Google.

  • In Google’s Search Plus Your World: Google inserts articles that have been +1’d and shared by your friends in search results. With this feature, the more +1s, comments, and shares an article or website has on Google+, the better it ranks among the friends of those who have +1’d or shared those URLs. This boost means your site will be seen by more people.

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