That means posting links, text updates, videos and pictures to your Google Plus page.
In this article, we look at whether it's really worth posting to Google Plus (spoiler: it is for most freelancers), how to approach sharing on Google Plus, and the types of updates that best engage potential clients.
I'll also show you how to format your updates, and who you should engage with.
Let's get started!
Is it Worth Engaging On Google Plus?
For many social media users, the main advantages of being on Google Plus have little to do with engaging potential clients through posting updates. Rather, Google Plus is about boosting SEO, or claiming official authorship of blog posts in Google Search.
Google Plus is a quiet place, making it the least natural choice for those who want to engage as widely as possible. For this reason, Google Plus is overlooked by many social media users. You'll likely find that few people in your circles post regular updates.
This is as much an advantage as a disadvantage. It means you can get big returns for a small time investment, because when you do post on Google Plus, the people who regularly use the network are likely to take notice. It's also good news if you want to get attention from a particular person. On Twitter, if you send someone a Tweet you could be competing with hundreds of others for that person's attention. On Google Plus, the competition is low, so you're more likely to get noticed.
Posting as little as one update a week has the potential to drive big results on Google Plus and if you're already posting updates to Facebook and Twitter, adding Google Plus into the mix takes only a tiny amount of extra effort.
The Thoughtful Freelancer's Social Network
Because not everyone regularly uses Google Plus, it's less about the number of followers or friends you have, and more about the quality of engagement. From its inception, Google Plus has been a place for thoughtful interaction and conversation. This makes Google Plus more of a high-minded and cultured social network compared to its more ubiquitous social networking cousins.
In short, while you’ll find a lower overall level of engagement on Google Plus compared to other social networks, any conversations you do have will be of higher quality.
Google has included some design features in Plus updates that encourage serious interaction. First, posts can be of unlimited length, which allows for conversations made up of more than just quick sound bites. Second, simple formatting such as bold and italic is possible, allowing for subheadings and emphasis (Check out this article for a quick tutorial on formatting).
In short, while you'll find a lower overall level of engagement on Google Plus compared to other social networks, any conversations you do have will be of higher quality. Such is the quality of interaction on Google Plus that some users have considered moving their personal blog onto the social network.
All this makes Google Plus perfect for the thoughtful freelancer who likes to engage in depth with clients, freelancers and other creative people. It's also ideal if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Now you've had an opportunity to consider whether posting to Google Plus is right for you, let's take a look at how to develop your posting strategy.
Why Are You Using Google Plus?
Like any social network, Google Plus brims with fascinating shiny objects. Most freelancers I know have a magpie mindset. We're curious people who enjoy learning new things. This can lead to social media becoming a big time drain.
To prevent this from happening, it's important to establish why you want to post on Google Plus. Good reasons include:
- Connecting with potential clients
- Boosting brand visibility of your personal brand
- Showing your expertise in your field of work
- Demonstrating that you're trustworthy and reliable
- Talking about what matters to you
- Meeting up with people who have similar interests
- Learning new things
When you know why you're posting, you can monitor yourself to ensure your Google Plus activity is helping you achieve your goals rather than being a distraction.
What's In It For You?
Chances are if you're reading this article, you're planning to use Google Plus as a marketing tool. You want to promote your freelance business to get more clients, or better paying clients.
Share helpful articles. Give helpful advice. Point out helpful videos. Engage in helpful discussion.
A mistake many novice marketers make is assuming marketing and promotion means shouting about what you do. It's an easy mistake to make. After all, our lives are steeped in interruption marketing, from TV commercials that break up our favorite shows to cold calls when we're trying to relax over an evening meal.
Interruption marketing only works if you have a huge advertising budget. Otherwise, you need to be more subtle in your marketing.
Marketing as a freelancer means letting potential clients know what you do and how you can help them. The best way to do this is not to shout about what you do (though of course you can tell people that on your about page). Instead, be helpful. Show people how you can help them by being helpful.
Share helpful articles. Give helpful advice. Point out helpful videos. Engage in helpful discussion. While you're doing this, always have fun.
Whenever anyone comes across something new, whether that's a new product, a new service, or a new freelancer, the first question on their mind is "What's in it for me?" In your Google Plus updates, by being helpful, you're giving a taste of what's in it for them if they work with you. With that in mind, when you're deciding what to post on Google Plus, think about the following:
- What are the needs of your clients?
- What are common questions they have that you have the answer to?
- What would they like to know how to do?
- What are their problems and pain-points (especially those you can help them to solve)?
Marketing in this way, your freelance brand becomes associated with being helpful in your niche. It's more subtle than interruption marketing, cheaper, and more effective.
What Should You Share?
Google Plus allows for five types of update: text only, or text plus photos, a video, an event or a link.
Because Google Plus is a serious discussion-based network, most updates are text or links. It's about sharing knowledge rather than creating a quick laugh with a photo or video. That said, photos and videos are a great way to add personality to your feed, especially if they're relevant to your freelance niche. YouTube - another Google property - integrates flawlessly, making sharing videos a breeze.
The following types of update are perfect for Google Plus.
- Ask Questions. Google Plus is a discussion forum, and asking questions shows your willingness to engage. It also shows you're someone who likes to listen and learn, rather than a know-it-all with lots to say and little time for hearing other points of view.
- Share Interesting Things You've Read. In general, keep links you share relevant to your freelancing niche, though it's fine to roam, particularly if you can show why an article might be interesting to your followers. Always add your comment to the article - why did you find it helpful or interesting?
- Post Updates from Your Life. You're a human being as well as a business owner, and often the best client relationships are formed when you open up and allow them a window into your life. There's no need to share everything, but it's good to show you know how to keep it real.
- News and Views. Share news articles where you also have an insight or opinion to share.
- Posts from other people. Sharing posts from other Google Plus users creates "ripples" across the network. (Hint: Look up the ripples on your posts to discover new acquaintances and unexpected connections).
- Summaries of your blog posts. While some Google Plus users have replaced their blog with the social network, you can still use your blog content without sacrificing your blog. Instead of posting full blog posts to Google Plus, share summaries. You may find you get more comments on Google Plus than on your blog itself.
- Join the conversation. Where you don't have your own update to share, join in the comments on someone else's updates. Like ripples, this is great for meeting new people and making new connections.
In addition, where possible, tag people in your updates, especially people you want to engage with. This encourages them to join in the discussion, and people love to have their name called out.
Who To Share Your Updates With
Circles make it possible to only share your updates with a particular group of people. This is often useful, and is an advantage of Google Plus over other social networks. For example, you might want to share your holiday snaps with your family but not anyone else, or you may have a technical question for your freelancer friends you'd prefer your clients didn't see you asking.
However, in most cases, making your updates public is the best option. Public updates create ripples and connections. They're also what people will see the first time they look at your profile. If they see you share interesting public updates, they're more likely to add you to their circles.
In addition, if you'd like to share your Google Plus updates on other social networks, you can do so using a browser plugin. G++ is a good option, and is available for both Chrome and Firefox.
If you find all these tips daunting, the most important thing to remember is to be yourself. However you choose to engage, as long as you do so professionally, engaging is the most important thing. Plunge into the conversation. Follow your instincts, chase down what interests you, and have fun on the journey.
You'll learn new things, make new friends and grow your business. What's not to like?