“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” ~ Steven Wright
Everyone joins a new social media platform with the same amount of followers, zero. However; some people have the benefit of having huge followings on other arenas. They may be celebrities like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or alternatively “internet famous” like Robert Scoble aka Scobleizer and Guy. But keep in mind that no one is guaranteed a following in a new venue, everyone needs to work on building up from scratch.
The problem with the big fish, like Guy Kawasaki or Robert Scoble, is that they don’t realize that their visibility and notoriety are tremendous advantages. What if you aren’t a Robert Scoble or Guy Kawasaki, but a regular Joe or Josephine like myself, how can you make Google+ work or any social media for you? Here are my twelve most powerful tips to succeeding in social media:
1. Don’t expect to be an overnight success
Even if you have a following on Facebook and Twitter, these people may not be on Google+ and if they are, may not be able to find you easily. You will need to take time to find the people that you want to engage with on Google+, whether they were in your existing social media circles or not. Share the link to your Google+ account and put the word out that you are there.
2. Pay your dues
Social media takes time — every day! You will need to create content or find great content to share. Take time to post your items properly on Google+ (reference to Chapter on posting). Slapping up a blog post with a link only creates a very unappealing looking post of just text in some instances. No one will notice. Taking the time to make a pretty post gives it a much better chance of being seen in the stream and acted upon.
3. Watch and learn
Unsure how to post? Look around and observe. See how people who have been on Google+ and already established are talking to each other and interacting with others.
Guy’s advice to me on being hesitant about commenting on Google+ posts was, “get over it.” Once I did and just started commenting, my Google+ experience totally transformed. The conversations and interactions with others is what truly connects us with a social network. The posts that you make are static; the conversations are the ebb and flow that makes it all work!
Google+ flows like a combination of Twitter and Facebook, so you will be in a new environment but not so new that you can’t get the hang of it. Watch your whole stream and you will see that people are posting interesting and fun content that gets acted on immediately. People also go through and look at older content on Google+ walls at a more leisurely pace.
4. Be original
I love this quote by Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” This simple reality seems to be lost on many folks in social media as they “borrow” content from others.
As you are analyzing styles and observing, it is great to learn but being original is very important. People can spot a copycat and they won’t respond to your content if they can see it is not true to you. Sharing on Google+ takes away the need to credit in great detail but you can always give a hat tip when warranted.
5. Experiment with different content
Learning the Google+ ropes will take a little time — you will need to learn the basics but also find out what content works for you. I have found that different material is popular with my followers on Twitter than with my Facebook fans or Google+ circlers. Monitor your +1s, comments and shares — if something starts to stick, repeat!
For example, I write for my blog and sometimes I put a post up with a beautiful photo and get a few likes but no shares. But then later I post a poem with a great photo and receive more +1s and shares. So, my Google+ followers seem to like lighter content from me so I rotate. Bottom line: you can’t dictate what people will like but you can observe, learn, and give them more of what they like from you.
6. Change how you interact
You won’t see notifications every time you go on Google+ at first. It takes time for people to find you, just like when you were new on Facebook and Twitter.
The interaction is a little different on Google+ but in a good way! Conversation is a true conversation, not just “thank you for the retweet” or an @mention from your blog being tweeted. Unless it is just a notification that someone circled you, which you may then choose to circle them back or not, notifications indicate that someone took action on something you did or are sharing something with you. There is much less gratuitous chatter and more “meat” on Google+, so it is worth the wait until you earn some notifications.
7. Have fun
Don’t forget this! Somewhere along the way, everyone in social media became too focused on Klout and other metrics and forgot that this is supposed to be SOCIAL! Social, according to Dictionary.com, is defined as “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.” Don’t forget the reason folks are on Google+: PEOPLE! (besides pushing their blogs, books or webinars)
Don’t be afraid to be funny or post something that is entertaining; be tasteful and thoughtful please! Being on the internet is a diversion for many and they just want some inspiration or a laugh.
8. Jump in with both feet!
OK, so you are on Google+… time to stop watching and start engaging! Look at the posts that people are making like mini-blogs and be generous with the +1s, sharing and commenting. They are there for a reason. You need to put the social in the social media to get it going. No one else can get your feet wet but YOU! You will find that people are ready to engage and are looking for interesting and smart people. Let that be you!
9. Stay involved with your other social media channels
When you are a little fish, you need to keep swimming in all the ponds. You can use your traffic on other channels to redirect some of it to Google+. What I have found is that people tend to like their preferred social media platform, usually Twitter or Facebook, and are hesitant to try something new like Google+. So keep working at it and welcome those friends when they arrive!
Teach your friends and family how to use Google+. Be the bridge between the new and the old as you help others learn how to use it. Sharing knowledge with others is providing value and is always a benefit in social media.
10. Don’t compare yourself to the big fish
This will just make you feel bad. Part of the reason that the bigger fish get so many comments, sometimes from crazy people, is that they just want to talk to them. They make rude or inflammatory comments that are off topic and just meant to get attention.
Big fish also have lots of people who have circled them and, of course, more people will see their material. People will search for them by name. Don’t begrudge someone who worked hard and has more followers — instead, know that you have some work to do and do it!
11. Be confident
You might be wondering if anyone is seeing your posts, photos and other social media offerings. Be assured that SOMEONE is reading everything that you post and it stays on the internet forever. Don’t say stupid things like “is this thing on?” or post “woe is me” comments about how you aren’t getting any traffic. Guess what, that is very unattractive and it isn’t going to win you any fans. This is an instance where I would say the “fake it ’til you make it” rule would apply. Assume that fabulous, smart people are reading your material and post accordingly.
12. Be kind, humble, AND helpful
Being nice to others opens many doors! Many of the lessons that I have learned from others in my social media experience have been positive but a few times there have been negative things. Learn from it all and remember that people can see your temper tantrums and rants. No one likes this behavior. Just don’t do it.
Just like being a fake, people can spot a big head a mile away. If Guy can be humble, so can you.
Helping other people is a great way to make new friends and people will remember that you were kind. Sharing your talents with others reinforces your positive social media experience. And it is always nice to be able to ask questions of other people.
Remember: social media is an individual endeavor and works differently for each person. Put the time into learning what you need to know and making friends. You will find that soon enough everything will fall into place, and you may even blow past Guy.
This was originally written as a guest chapter for What the Plus! by Guy Kawasaki. I invite you to read the whole book and really get down to business. What are you waiting for? Featured image courtesy of Goldy fk via Creative Commons.
Article by Peg Fitzpatrick
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