Now what do I do?
And, with Google’s new system allowing users to invite up to 150 friends at a time, a lot more folks will be asking this question over the next few days and weeks.
Folks sign on to Google+ only to find themselves staring at a blank stream wondering when they’re going to experience the engagement they’ve heard so much about from Google+ enthusiasts and the media.
I’ve heard many folks, including people I invited to Google+, saying they just don’t like it and they’re not seeing anyone they want to talk to. Sure, you can get a guide, like the one published by Mashable, but that’s more techie stuff rather than how to create engagement on Google+.
The top complaint I hear about Google+:
None of my friends are on Google+
I hear this constantly. I don’t engage on Google+ because none of my friends are there. There are two responses to this complaint:
1) Look harder. I’m constantly surprised to find someone I know on Google+ and Google doesn’t really make it easy to find your friends. Sure, you can search through your Gmail contacts to find friends, but the recommendations Google makes are nowhere near as good as those recommended on Facebook.
Most of my recommendations for people to add to circles include Michael Dell and a bunch of Google employees. Not really the folks I want to engage with. I’m part of a team of non-Google Beta testers and I’ve made a suggestion regarding this to Google. They’re working to make these recommendations more useful.
2) Make new friends. And the public nature of conversations on Google+ makes it very easy to make new friends. I find this one of the best features of Google+ and it’s something Facebook wouldn’t let you do — meet new people. I found this a REALLY ANNOYING feature on Facebook and I know several people who accounts were suspended for trying to make new friends on Facebook.
On Google+, all you have to do is type a keyword into the “Find People” box at the top of the screen. Google will return profiles for folks that include that keyword. And the list is sorted, so those already in your circles are listed first, then those not in your circles, and finally those folks with profiles, but no Google+ account. Within the list of profiles for folks not in your circles yet, the profiles are sorted with those who create the most engagement at the top. So, its easy to find folks who share your interests.
Finding more friends on Google+
Once you’ve got a few folks in your circles on Google+, you’re ready to make even more new friends.
- Friends of friends – go to your friends profiles and look at who they’ve put into circles. Likely some of them will be interesting folks to add to your circles.
- Listen – listen to the conversations going on in your stream. Who are the folks saying valuable, interesting things or sharing interesting stuff? Add them to your circles.
- Check out new folks – one good thing about Google+ is lots of new folks are joining every day. Check for friends as they start showing up.
Help friends find you
Your goal should be to help folks find you and add you to THEIR circles as this also increases engagement.
- Finish your profile – add interesting things about you that would make someone WANT to put you in their circles. As professionals, you want to put in stuff about your job and hobbies that point to your expertise, but don’t forget to put in stuff about you as a person — remember this is a SOCIAL network.
- If you have something to add to a conversation, do it; if not, listen – there’s a lot of gamesmanship going on in Google+ with folks trying to attract the attention of the big boys like Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, and Chris Brogan. So, they’re all fighting to make a comment every time one of the big boys posts. Unfortunately, they don’t have much to add to the conversation, so they just come off as trivial by saying something like, “very funny” or “absolutely right”. The first rule is don’t look stupid.
- Link generously – share links to blog posts by others and share things folks you admire post on Google+. The fastest way to success in social media is to pay it forward.
- Provide value not promotion – again, pay it forward. The tolerance for spam on Google+ is VERY low. I’ve already blocked folks who are spammers and I know lots of others doing the same. If you provide valuable content, I’ll let you talk about yourself A LITTLE. Remember to keep the noise ratio low.
SO, what are your strategies for building an engaging network on Google+?