Google+ Growing Your Social Network: Quantity vs. Quality
There is an ongoing discussion trying to better understand what Google+ brings to the table. Recently, the stats were released that Google+ now has 90M users and about 60% log in every day.
Will Google+ ever be that “Facebook killer” that everyone keeps speculating? That has yet to be demonstrated. My hunch is that it won’t. Not because it can’t, but because I am not convinced that was ever the goal of Google+.
Recent algorithm changes, namely Google + your world, support what I am speculating. We are seeing a cross between Search and Social like never before.
Not A Facebook Killer
This leads me to believe that Google may be building a network simply to enhance our search results, not necessarily to kill Facebook.
The concept of a social graph, which was brought to life by Facebook, may be what Google is really creating. But not for the Social network; for relevance in the search results.
Enhanced Relevant Results From Google
Google has always been about relevance, and if information I tell Google enhances that relevance, then the search engine provides a better user experience .
As an offshoot, there is a network for people to congregate on. Over time, I see this getting baked further into the search engine results as well (think social notations alongside listings).
There is a gut feeling most marketers have, but I have yet to come across any research indicating which is better: the amount of followers any one person has, or if they have fewer followers, but more relevant and authoritative in quality.
In a recent adage article, Bob Knorpp from The BeanCast discusses how creating a user base built off likes, re-tweets, shares, +1s etc. is very similar to the traditional media method of creating and building an audience. He goes on to say these connections don’t measure the quality of the relationship, but there is basis to growing that user base.
Personally, I have always been a strong believer that the amount of followers you have on any given network is irrelevant if the interaction is not there.
But with these changes happening, and Google’s unique approach to social connections, I have come to think that there is basis for marketers to grow their user base, even if interactions are limited.
I don’t mean to imply at all that the amount of followers should be the end all be all metric. However, we now see added integration means heightened brand visibility in the SERP. This is added visibility is due to the connections you have made.
Sadly, there is no magic spell or “chia pet” solution to grow your network.
Typically, the only way to grow your audience is through hard work, creative content and engaging users. Most of us don’t have the luxury or global brand recognition to create an account and instantly gain a following.
As marketers,we still need to “actively” grow our audiences. For global brands like +starbucks, people will connect simply because of who they are; they have this luxury.
But for the rest of us, you need to give them a reason to ‘want’ and add you. This of course, is the argument for adding in solid content.
Do’s & Don’ts For Success
While growing your audience is important, pluses and likes for the sake of pluses and likes may have short term benefits, but they aren’t productive. To successfully build the network, there needs to be meaningful interactive engagements.
The spam market has picked up on these benefits and the social media spam market has emerged to reap the benefits. A guy even legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg to try and capture audiences.
There is no precise formula for success, there are tips to help lead you in the right direction as well as rules that if you violate will be a sure fire way to hinder performance.
Follow these simple rules and you are sure to grow your audience while pleasing the search engine.
|Do Create Unique Content||Don’t Plagiarize|
|Do Create Useful Content||Don’t Spam or Share Useless Content|
|Do Create Helpful Content||Don’t take the ‘social’ out of ‘Social Media’. Keep it human|
|Do Understand your Audience and Separate them into Circles||Don’t buy “likes” or “+1’s”|
|Do treat your social audience just as you would any direct offline promotion (contests, incentives to further their engagement)||Don’t Neglect your networks. Leverage them, understand what makes them tick.|
|Do take advantage of social measurement metrics like Facebook Insights to understand your network||Don’t use generic pics or un-identifiably ‘your brand’ images for your profile|
In order to increase visibility in the SERP, there should be a big push to grow your audience base. Search engines will have to evolve to determine what the nature and strength of the relationship. Search engines will also have to evolve to understand the quality of a like rather than just a like in and of itself.
For now, do what you can to grow this user base as large as you possibly can. But, do not be useless to your audience.
Do you have anything to add to the list?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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