How Should I Engage on Google+?

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Most of the business owners and career people I speak with each week feel utterly overwhelmed by the number of social networking options that are out there. And while Google+ user numbers are climbing, the early adopters and frequent users tend to be a younger demographic, as well as online marketers and tech sector folks.

Here's what I tell my clients about Google+, and this [advice] actually pertains to any social networking channel:

Spend some time on Google+ to see if you feel comfortable working with it. There's nothing worse than a company, author or expert using a platform clumsily. And believe me, the newbies who don't really understand the platform's protocols - or what they are doing on it - stand out in a big (and very negative) way.

Be yourself and be true to your brand's personality. Focus on sharing valuable info that your prospects and clients care about and can profit from. With an 80/20 mix (20 percent of your shares being about specific offers or products/services you are trying to hawk and 80 percent of your shares being about timely and informative articles, videos, conferences, blog posts, retweets, etc.) you are more apt to build a real fan base. Track your own buying behavior; if you truly like a company and what it does or stands for, you are more apt to buy from them.

To your point about reposting Facebook and Twitter shares -- not everyone is connected on every social network. So the people who see your posts on Facebook might not necessarily see them on Google+ and vice versa. One way to utilize G+ features is to include hashtags (just like the hashtag sign # used on Twitter) to broaden the number of people who might stumble upon your post via specific hashtag searches and conversation threads.

Find out if your clients are on G+ and, if they are, how often they log on and at what time(s) of the day. Do they use Twitter or Facebook more? Bottom line, it makes no sense to invest time on a platform until you figure out your specific goals and understand the primary demographics that use that platform. Then you can make an informed decision about the right platform for you, whether your goal is new client engagement, brand awareness, a new product launch or something else.

Check out what similar businesses are doing on G+ and their level of success. This can be tricky as some companies are still very seriously in a testing mode on G+ and other channels. You can get some terrific intel on each social network and specific fan and new sales information via case studies from The RealTime Report, MarketingProfs and, of course,!

No matter what social networking space you choose to use, make sure you put as many pertinent keywords about your product, service or expertise as possible into your profile. Even if people are not on G+, they can stumble upon your G+ page and discussions in Google search results, because you put smart, self-authored Search Engine Optimized (SEO) content in the right spaces!

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