Our moms and our kindergarten teachers told us again and again: “It’s nice to share!“
But why? How does sharing make things better? Before long the smartest kids figured out that sharing increased the fun. When you shared, more kids wanted to play with you. They’d stay in the sandbox longer, and they’d share their cool stuff with you.
Those kindergarten lessons are no less true in the world of social media. In social media, sharing means reposting the content of others (always with a clear link back to them!) or recommending others to your followers. It’s no secret that one of the keys to success in building a good following on social media is good sharing skills. For example, one study showed that tweets that contain links get more re-tweets.
Let’s quickly review why sharing is so powerful:
- It brands you as “generous.” Others are more willing to share your content if you are a sharer.
- It marks you as “savvy” if you consistently share really good content.
- It causes influential people to be aware of your existence, if you often share their content.
The Power of Sharing on Google+
While the power of sharing works on any social network, many of us using Google+ to market our businesses have noticed that network’s ability to boost the effect through the roof. Why? My experience points to at least four contributing factors:
- Well-formatted Google+ posts are attractive and practically shout “share me!”
- The prominent Share button on every post makes sharing easy.
- Circles allow users to share content with exactly who they want to, encouraging targeted sharing.
- Google+’s secret weapon, unequaled in any other social network:Shared Circles.
Let’s explore how to share effectively on Google+ to build your following and increase your influence.
Single Post Sharing
Sharing a single post on Google+ couldn’t be simpler. But before we get into how to do it, you should be aware that you can share any posts that are public. (If Google+ isn’t allowing you to share the public post, just click the post’s time stamp and you should be able to share from there.) The originator of the post doesn’t need to be someone in your circles, nor do you have to be in theirs. More about how to use that to your advantage later.
Share any post in your Stream (or that you find in Google+ search) by clicking the “Share” link at the bottom of the post.
Now add your own title and introduction to the re-share post. This personalizes it to your followers and gives them reasons to read and re-share it. Take advantage of Google+’s formatting abilities to make your re-share post stand out.
Notice how I set up my share in the image above.
- Make your title bold by putting asterisks around it. When you post, Google+ will remove the asterisks and make the text between them bold. (To italicize, use underscores (_) before and after the text.)
- Whenever possible, tag the original author. Just type a plus sign (+) and then, without a space after the plus, type his or her name. Google+ will bring it up in an autocomplete box, and once selected, the name will become a link to the author’s profile. Added advantage: the tagged author will receive a special notification of your re-share.
- Include a bullet-point summary of the linked post, or a brief quotation, to help build interest.
Before clicking “Share,” select the circles to which you want to send your share. Posts and re-shares from brand pages default to “Public,” which means everyone who follows you will see them, and they also can show up in both Google+ and regular Google searches.
Sharing Strategically for Brand Page Growth
Now that we’ve established that you should share and how to do it, let’s talk about what to share.
- At least once a day scan the stream of your page looking for share-worthy posts. They should typically be something apropos to the topic of your page, but if it fits with the personality you project online, occasionally share some fun things as well. Don’t worry much at this point about who the originator is or how influential they are. It’s good to encourage the “little people” too; some of them may become big some day and remember you for it!
- Scan people who have your page in their circles to find influencers and engagers. At present there are no tools to do this for Google+, so you’ll have to do it manually. Look for followers who have large followings and post frequently (bonus if they post about your topic and seem to reshare frequently). Place these people in special circles (maybe “Engagers” or “Influencers”). Check these circles frequently for material to reshare. This is also a good opportunity to +1 and/or comment on some of their posts, keeping your page on their radar.
- Use Google+’s powerful internal search to find posts about topic areas related to your page. Reshare them. The original poster gets a notification of your share, and you may gain a new follower. Plus you’re keeping fresh content in your own stream, always a good thing.
- One more tip, not for your sharing, but for when you are shared: leave a thank-you comment. Not only is that good etiquette, it lets your followers know you’re paying attention to them, and you’ll get notifications of comments, keeping you in the conversation about your content wherever it’s been posted.
Shared Circles: The Google+ Secret Weapon
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more powerful tool for growing highly-targeted followers than Google+’s Shared Circles, and it’s built right in to the platform! Any Google+ user can share any of his or her circles with their followers, and those followers can add the entire circle to their own with just one click. Getting into shared circles posted by influential Google+ users has done more to boost my follower count than almost anything else.
To share a circle from your brand or personal profile, go to your Circles page and click the circle you want to share. The circle will now contain three icons; the center one creates the share.
Clicking the share icon creates a ready-to-share post. Add your own introduction, select the circles to which you want to share it, and click Share.
Using Shared Circles for Strategic Growth
Obviously some of the best practices I shared above for single-post sharing apply to creating shared circles as well. But how do you get your Google+ business page into the shared circles of others? Here are a few tips that have worked well for me:
- Ask! If you see a shared circle posted that you believe fits your page, leave a comment asking to be considered. I’ve been added to many that way, when it was truly appropriate. Give a brief reason why you think you should be added, and be sure to link to your page (if you’re not posting the comment as your page). Many shared circle curators repost their shared circles from time to time as they’ve found new people or pages to add to them.
- Create a circle with your page included. Find people among your followers who post about the topic area of your page and add them to a circle. When you share the circle, check the box at the bottom of the post that says “Include yourself in the shared circle.” You’ve just made yourself potentially viral.
- Sponsor a shared circle curation group. Post to your followers that you are looking to create a shared circle about X topic. Ask them to contribute suggestions of people who belong in that circle. If those people aren’t followers, ask the contributors to contact them and ask them to follow your page so they can be added (pages can’t add someone to their circles unless that person first adds them). Once you’ve got a good group, share the circle, and check the box to include yourself.
Try out the power of sharing on Google+ and watch your business page follower count grow. Let us know in the comments if you’ve found other sharing techniques that work for you.