Shannon’s Test Kitchen Experiment: Social Media Treasure Hunt

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    Tea Silvestre
    Keymaster

    Google Plus URL: google.com/+ShannonEOConnorWrites
    I chose to focus on Google Plus because it seems to be an ideal platform for bloggers, copywriters, and other content marketing professionals. I’ve been active on Linkedin for years and like the fact that it’s strictly used for professional networking. While I still think it’s an excellent place to connect with potential clients and other professionals, the marketing community in particular seems to have really embraced Google Plus. As a copywriter, I need to stay on top of SEO trends (as much as it pains me) so Google Plus was the obvious choice for this assignment.

    G+ Training Wheels

    A couple of months ago, I began managing the Google Plus and Linkedin company pages for one of my clients. The situation provided was ideal for me because it compelled me to actively engage in social media while remaining incognito and learning some of the fundamentals of Google Plus. I knew social media was on the upcoming DDR agenda and I would soon have to start interacting as myself, but managing this company page allowed me to get more comfortable with selecting, sharing, and commenting on content on a consistent basis – something I struggle with when it comes to my own marketing. But since this was for a client, nothing less than 110% would suffice and that allowed me to justify all the hours I put in on my own time to learn the ins and outs of Google Plus.

    “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”
    (If Einstein felt this way, what chance do I have??)

    By the time our DDR assignment rolled around, I should have been ready to dive right into using my own G+ account, but the more I learned about G+ best practices, the more overwhelmed I felt at the prospect of implementing them for my own business purposes. This is unfortunately a common theme in my life; I write blogs for clients every week, but have yet to start blogging on my own because I haven’t decided on a focus or niche. In addition to being a WRITER without my own blog content to share, I had recently written a post on the importance of brand consistency for a client and realized just how raggedy my profile was. Writer David Sedaris said, “If you aren’t cute, you may as well be clever” and I was initially feeling rather disheartened about being a blog-less blogger with an ugly and unfinished profile – EPIC FAIL!

    Profile Pain on G+

    Setting up G+ the way I wanted it was undoubtedly the most difficult part of the process. Although I’ve had a G+ account for some time now, I never liked how it was linked to my personal email – I have enough trouble staying organized without mixing the two! But thanks to Lisa Burger, I recently learned that I could obtain a customized Gmail account with Google apps for Business.

    According to the directions, I should have been able to transfer ownership of my existing G+ profile to the new account, but I after several failed attempts I ran out of patience and decided to disable the existing G+ profile and create a new one to link with my new business Gmail account. Nothing went smoothly – if you have multiple Gmail accounts, you can pretty much count on encountering some difficulty in the set-up process. When you create a new Gmail account, it automatically generates a G+ profile, but I think you could avoid some headaches by immediately going into your settings and deleting any profiles you don’t intend to use. Otherwise, it could become rather confusing with multiple pages and profiles. There’s also a risk that your contacts might “circle” the the wrong G+ profile and you’ll lose out on thie opportunity to connect with them, which defeats the whole purpose!

    The Goods on Google+

    • Easy on the eyes. I love the clean layout of G+! Even after I added numerous people/pages to my “stream,” it still maintained its readability for me. It takes me forever to find anything in FB and I’m always worried I missed something important.

    • Valuable Content. I was really impressed with the quality of the content on G+. Unlike other social media forums, where many people will continually “share” regardless of whether they have anything to say, the G+ crowd is very focused on creating and sharing fantastic content. Some people actually paste the content of their blogs into their posts instead of just providing the link (apparently because it contributes to SEO). believe it supports SEO). G+ is definitely the place to be if you’re a writer! G+ displays images beautifully, but it’s nice to see a venue where words still take center stage.

    • Good Vibes. From what I observed, G+ users tend to be very supportive of other industry professionals and many will go above and beyond to answer questions or provide you with helpful resources. Mike Allton of the Social Media Hat is a perfect example of the type of delightful individual you may encounter there. He reminds me of The Word Chef in many ways – Mr. Allton consistently shares engaging content that answers the burning questions in the minds of his target audience and like Tea, he has the kind of “good vibes” that radiate right off the page. 

    • Finding Your Ideal Customers. Who you add to your circles will obviously dictate the quality of the content you see in your stream. Since I wasn’t able to transfer my old G+ account over, that meant I had to re-build my circles from scratch. I used my old list as a reference, but I put a lot of thought into the people I added this time around. After completing that ideal client assignment last month, I had a good idea of where she and others like her might be hanging out on G+.

    • Thought Leaders. I then started adding my favorite industry influencers to my circles. Every time I added someone new, I would check to see if there was anyone else in their circles that I’d forgotten or if there was anyone whose profile suggested we might be a good fit. More often than not, you can figure it out by going to the links (on their G+ profile page of the sites they contribute to or their own company websites. For example, I know that Tea oversees the “Word Carnival,” a community of bloggers whose work I also enjoy, so I might look for their G+ pages as well. They’re not hard to find because smart, talented people like to work with other smart, talented people!  More often than not, I’d also check out their company websites and their blogs or other materials before deciding to add them to my circles. It was rather time-consuming, but I enjoy researching and reading other people’s content. I’m also hopeful that by putting in the groundwork now, I’m setting myself up for a richer experience later.

    • Communities. For some reason, Linkedin don’t seem to inspire much compelling discussion. I used to think it was their size (they tend to be huge), but now I believe it once again comes down to better content in the G+ communities. I’ve also noticed that they’ll divide the really large groups up in subcategories, so you can easily access the people and content that interests you most. Besides blog posts and infographics, community moderators and other people in the communities seem to offer a lot of trainings and webinars, many of which are free. There are so many opportunities for learning, the biggest challenge is picking one!

    I do, however, wish that Google would display people’s communities in their profiles. For example, if I saw that Carol Tice belonged to a particular writing community that would tell me I’m probably in the right place since I belong to her Freelance Writers Den. If someone you know happens to be a moderator, their picture may come up in the community search results, but otherwise you wouldn’t know unless you combed through their membership page. I’m not sure why that particular feature would be the one where people would want privacy, but maybe I’m missing something.

    G+ RESOURCES

    * http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/should-i-use-social-media-profile-or-page
    * http://www.websighthangouts.com/google-plus-hovercard/
    * https://plus.google.com/107499215004519214139/posts/e2jMySre4DL
    * http://davidamerland.com/seo-blog/941-the-life-expectancy-of-a-social-network.html
    * https://plus.google.com/107499215004519214139/posts/9z9TZ9sqT27
    * http://www.martinshervington.com/psychology-free-google-plus/
    * http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/how-create-google-community
    * https://plus.google.com/114112404777685307339/posts/Zo7r9mdfqjN

    This link will take you to my Google Plus Evernote notebook where you can view more resources:

    https://www.evernote.com/pub/lookingglasswriting/google

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