I know you’ve heard it: Google Plus is a ghost town. A quick search for “Google Plus ghost town” turns up plenty of results. But is that criticism really warranted? I don’t believe it is. But the perception remains and I believe the fault lies in the mirror with how we use the network. So, what can we do about it? Read on and I’ll show you how you can turn your Google Plus ghost town into a boomtown.
Perhaps you’ve tried Google Plus, but came away a little frustrated. As I noted in an earlier post, Google Plus isn’t the place for high school reunions. Many of your friends may not be a part of Google Plus and you won’t see lots of old photos of yourself from back in the day. But that’s OK because Google Plus has much more to offer. So how do you go about getting connected with others and quickly populate your ghost town? Below are a few strategies that you can use to turn that lifeless Google Plus stream into a vibrant, river of content that can meet your information needs.
Creating Circles that Work
Google Plus has been praised from the beginning for its approach to grouping your contacts into “circles.” It’s a quick and easy way to keep your contacts organized, but the real strength is in the ability to segment your stream based on these circles. If you set the right foundation by creating circles that make sense to you, it will make the process of filtering status updates quite a bit easier as you follow more people and pages as you grow. I recommend thinking about topics that you are interested in and creating circles about those topics. Then, as you discover people and pages that are relevant to those topics, you have a convenient place to stash them into so that you can access them later. And as an added bonus, you can share your saved circles with others on Google Plus as a way to recommend people and pages to others within the network.
Adding People/Pages to Circles
Once you’ve created a few circles, you’ll need to begin to add a few people and pages to follow. Google gets things started by recommending friends and contacts from your Gmail address book. And while that’s a nice start, I’ve found that the best way to get rolling is to use the search box at the top of the page and do searches on topics that you are interested in. Be sure to expand the dropdown box on the results page and select “people and pages.” This will show you those individuals and pages on Google Plus that are relevant to your search term. If you see someone you’d like to add to your circles, simply hover over the “add to circles” button and choose the circle you’d like to add them to. If you repeat this process several times over the course of a week, you’ll quickly fill up those circles you created and begin to populate your stream.
Saved Searches: The Hidden Gem
Google’s strength has always been search and it is on display within Google Plus. As noted above, the search box is a great way to discover new people. But to me, the real hidden gem is the saved search feature. Once you conduct your search you’ll see a large, red “Save Search” button to the right of the box. Once you click this button, Google Plus saves this search term as a stream within Google Plus and you can return to it often to get the latest results. I use this feature to stay up on SEO, social media and e-mail marketing to name a few and it is a great way to start the day to find out what is being said on each of those topics.
Interesting on Google Plus
One of the most helpful features I’ve found within Google Plus to find and discover new contacts is the “Interesting on Google Plus” box (sometimes found under the heading “Fun and Interesting”). This little recommendation engine is great at helping you active accounts on Google Plus that are focused on topics you are interested in. News, sports, technology and travel are just a few of the categories available. Inside each category are many Google plussers and pages that are very active and, once added to your circles, will place a wealth of content into your stream.
Now, each of these suggestions are nice, but they won’t do anything for you if you don’t go out and apply them. Remember, the reason Google Plus has been a ghost town up to this point is because you weren’t doing your part. So go ahead and get started.
In fact, I’ll even offer to help you with the first step. Connect with me on Google Plus and I’ll share several circles to get you moving and before long, you will find that your previously dull and uninteresting Google Plus stream will become a torrent of news, content, insight and information.
About the Author
Jon Parks is a digital marketing strategist and owner of Dijital Farm, a digital marketing consulting agency based in Raleigh, N.C. As a consultant, speaker and instructor, Jon helps businesses make sense of social media, the basics of Google, e-mail marketing and more. You can follow Jon on Twitter, add him to your circles on Google Plus and connect with him on LinkedIn.