Build Your Google Plus Page Following with Topical Pages

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Among the many beautiful gifts that modern day marketing via the Internet gives us is the ability to segment and micro-target. Back in the Mad Men days of mass TV ads and junk mail campaigns, you threw your promotions up against a huge wall and hoped they stuck to some of the bricks. Now thanks to personal profiles and all kinds of tracking and data-collection mechanisms, we can pretty much find and direct our messages toward people who are most likely to want or need what we’re providing. The cost saving because of this efficiency is enormous, and it has done much to democratize the marketing world. You can’t just buy your way to customers anymore.

Google+ Circles to Save the Day! Right?

When Google first introduced Brand Pages for Google+ last winter, they frequently touted Circles as Google+’s secret weapon for businesses looking to target customers and prospects via social media. Just create a circle for each of your different kinds of customers, we were told, and then share highly-targeted and specific message with each circle, fine-tuned for that circle.

Sounds brilliant, and it’s still something brands on Google+ should do. But…it doesn’t always work as magically as Google+ described it. The reality is, without a ton of very intensive work digging into every follower’s profile and posts, it’s difficult to know what circle to put people in. You could ask your followers to tell you which circle to put them in, but many may be reluctant to state that, or might balk at the idea of being “put” in a circle for targeting purposes. Plus if you only share a post to certain circles, it isn’t public, and therefore not indexed by Google, and so you lose its SEO benefit.

Don’t Fall Back into Push Marketing

Another problem with this approach is that it slides us backwards in marketing history. It encourages a return to “push” marketing, where you’re trying to force feed a message at a target. Notice the metaphorical language that brings forth? “Push” and “force” and “target.” Who wants to be a target?

So maybe you just post all to “public.” While better for your SEO, this may not be so great for your followers, especially if you post about a diversity of topics, or have different services or products you post about. Someone who is only interested about Topic A may get annoyed when they see posts from you about Topics B or C.

But wait, there’s more bad news before we get to the good: Last week, apparently in an attempt to cut back on spam in Google+, the platform completely changed the way Google+ notifications work. My post linked in the previous sentence goes into all the details, so I won’t labor them here. But here’s the crux for this discussion: the ability to notify circles of a post has been limited, and made possibly more annoying to your followers.

A Better Way of Offering Content to Your Followers

First, credit where credit is due: I owe the germ of this idea to Google Plus rock star +Fraser Cain.

Experienced marketers know that any list into which their followers opt-in is far more valuable than any message pushed at them. This is why opt-in email lists (when done well) still have the best conversion rates compared to other outreach methods. So what if you could create opt-in subscription lists on Google+?

You can! Here’s the wonderful secret: you can create a Google+ page about virtually anything, including a topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with a brand name. So here’s the simple strategy for using Pages to create opt-in subscription lists about specific topics:

  1. Figure out the topical areas you post on that get the most engagement and interest from your followers.
  2. Create a Google+ page for each of those topics. Don’t worry about branding the title: keep it short and to the topic (“Bicycle Safety” not “XYZ Brand’s Bicycle Safety Page”). This will help the Page rank better in Google+ search for the topic and make sure that the whole topic name is seen. You can brand on the posts, as I’ll cover below.
  3. From time to time post about your selection of topic pages. Invite your followers who never want to miss your posts about “whatever” to follow the related page. And then instruct them to do one more thing (which takes advantage of a new feature on Google+): tell them to place the page in a new circle called “Subscriptions.” Then instruct them to select that circle from the tabs at the top of their G+ home page, and slide its slider all the way to the right. This subscribes them to that circle, which means that they will get notified of any posts by any person or page they have in that circle. You can tell them they can use this circle for any “can’t miss” people or pages they follow.
  4. Whenever you create a post that fits the topic of one of your topic pages, post it on the topic page. Anyone who has placed that page in a subscribed circle will get notified of the post as they have opted in to be! You have a guaranteed receptive audience for those posts, and the recipients have a better feeling toward you because they are getting what they want from you. Win win!
  5. While I suggested you not brand the title of the topic page, feel free to brand away on the page’s About tab and on its individual posts. I would put something like “This post brought to you by +XYZ Brand” with the brand name being a + mention link to your official brand page. Also, of course, on the About tab talk about and link to your business, for the benefit of strangers who find your page by search.

Some additional tips about using this topic page subscription list technique:

  • You may still want to put the same post on both your official brand page and it’s relevant topic page. If you’re worried about double posting to people who follow both, use a tool like HootSuite or the Chrome extension Do Share to schedule the post at different times on the two pages.
  • Create a list of all your topic pages, along with brief instructions on how to subscribe to them, on your official page’s About tab.
  • Create similar links on your business’s web site and blog.
  • Remember from time to time to post a reminder post about your topic pages, so new followers know to subscribe to them.
  • The one downside of this method is you can’t know who subscribed to what topic. If this is a concern, at least you can keep track of who engages with the posts on each topic. You can be pretty sure those are subscribers, and they are obviously your most valuable subscribers on that topic as well.

Have fun with this new way of reaching and delighting your audience, and let us know in the comments how you’ve put it to use, and if you come up with any tips or tricks of your own.

Mark Traphagen
This monthly Google Plus column is contributed by Mark Traphagen. Mark is Director of Social Media Marketing for Virante. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web. +Mark Traphagen
Mark Traphagen


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Mark Traphagen


  1. Barry Deutsch says


    I’m not sure I agree with your dismissal of push marketing. I guess it would depend on your business. If you’re a consultant or speaker with 3-4 specific niches you serve, the shotgun/broadcasting approach of publicly throwing out content to be indexed by Google and hoping people discover it when they look at their LINKEDIn Network Shares, Facebook Feed, Twitter Stream, Google Plus Account works well with pushing content to precise specific groups that have given you permission to communicate.

    I think the Google pages allow people to find your content such as facebook pages you administer, blogs, and linkedin groups you may run allow people to “subscribe” to your content. In addition, some people don’t want to be bothered by having to go look at your content. They would prefer for it to be delivered (pushed) – especially if it’s tightly focused, valuable, relevant, and immediately useful. These “push delivery” methods include email auto responders, tagged groups on LinkedIn, and Google Circles.

    My personal perspective is that content marketing has two primary goals: One is to capture those interested in your content through organic search and broadcasting, and convert them to wanting content pushed at them. The second objective is to take those who have raised their hand and are willing to receive push content, and move those individuals along your sales funnel or calls-to-action.

    A well-constructed marketing strategy uses a wide variety of tools are most meaningful to your specific niche, segments, products, and services. I’ve found with social media, there is no panacea or perfect tool.

    That said, I love the idea of creating niche/specific pages for content in Google+ as an additional marketing tool. The thing that has me all tied up in knots is avoiding re-posting the same content in multiple places to the same individuals. I’ve found that creating a simple editorial calendar in excel that identifies what piece of content goes to what group on what platform on a given day helps me to keep it all organized, efficient, and limiting alienating my network.

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

    • says

      Thanks for your comments Barry. Great feed back. I think you and I actually agree; I just might’ve drawn too tight a dichotomy between “push” and “pull” in my opening. Really what I’m advocating here does exactly what you are talking about, just within the microcosm of Google+. I use my general stream as a multi-lure fishing line lying in the stream. When someone gets caught because of a particular bait I put out, I can introduce them to my topic page for that bait, where they can get all they can eat.

  2. davidquaid says

    Exactly – don’t fall back into push marketing. Don’t even segment. Let users self identify and find you using search? So you think BMW drivers are all male and 35? If a 21 year old female wants to buy a BMW – they can find you on search :) 

  3. says

    I like you Mark, but I don’t like this technique.
    It puts a lot more work on my plate… I’ve already got too many different ‘mes’ to manage!

    If I follow your suggested technique, I would need to manage a different Page for each of my topics. And Pages, as we well know, just don’t have the needed ability to reach out to people unless they have been circled first by those people.

    I realize this is a way to try to adapt to the recent changes, but I think it means a lot more work for the poster (content creator) and I’m not sure it can work at all for the smaller guys on Google Plus… because the power of Pages, just isn’t!

    But I still like you (and Fraser), just don’t like the method suggested here (regardless, I shared it to my peeps as they may think I’m stupid for not doing it, and love the idea!)

  4. says

    This is a great technique, and isn’t new, is the same thing big firms are doing to spread their reach more and more. They done it on Facebook, Twitter and now on Google+. The problem with this tactic is that for solo entrepreneur like most marketers out there this will take way too much time to manage, specially if you target to many topics.

    The idea is great, but for small businesses or solo entrepreneurs can become a pain in the neck!

    But, where is a way is a how!

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