3 Lessons We Learned From Our First 25,000 Google+ Followers

By Evan LePage | 2 years ago | No Comments


There’s no denying it: Google+ is still a mystery to many brands.

Businesses know that people are using it; they know that it’s growing incredibly fast; they know that it has implications on the success of their content and on SEO; but they just don’t know how to take advantage.

In early December we hit the Google+ milestone of having 25,000 people add us to a circle. These followers didn’t come easy, and we had to frequently adjust and readjust our approach to try and cater to this unique audience. Despite all the challenge, these followers taught us so much about Google+ along the way.

Here are 3 lessons we learned from our first 25,000 Google+ followers:

Posting Isn’t Enough, Conversation Means Everything

Since so many brands don’t know what to make of Google+, it’s often just seen another place to post content. This approach is a surefire way to miss out on what Google+ really brings to business.

Our Google+ audience has proven itself to be very passionate, very technical and very social-savvy. As we started to actually engage in conversations, we quickly discovered that Google+ users appreciate when a brand makes an effort to engage on the network, just like they would on Facebook or Twitter.

Lessons Learned From Our First 25,000 Google+ Followers - Kimberly Reynolds

Back in October, social media consultant Kimberly Reynolds commented on a post by fellow social media pro and our friend Mike Allton about a HootSuite feature she had tried but had issues with. I performed a search for HootSuite mentions, came across her comment and decided to reach out to ask her if there was anything I could do to get her try the feature again. She answered “you just did.” By simply reaching out, we were able to get Kimberly to give our tool another shot. This conversation also spawned several other Google+ posts (including this great post by Mark Traphagen) just about our presence and engagement on the network. A simple conversation turned into a major boost for our brand.

Google+ is Home to Passionate Brand Advocates

Brand advocates can be found on any social network. These are the people that talk about your product or business in a positive light, and are generally on your side in conversations about you. While we have advocates on every social network, it has been incredible to see the passion of our fans on Google+.

These users don’t just talk about HootSuite with their followers or circles; they actually search for brand mentions and get involved in conversations with strangers, offering tips or advice where needed. These brand advocates consistently share our content, and create their own content about HootSuite. When someone spreads misinformation about our product, they often find it and respond even faster than we do.

Our Google+ brand advocates of become such a valuable resource for our team. Mike Allton’s incredible series on HootSuite has brought more than a few new users to our side, and he himself has become one of our blog contributors. Another one of our users, James Lane, has helped answer user questions and even shared a correct blog link when we accidentally posted a broken url to our page. These people alone make Google+ worth doing.

Content Really Is King (Even More Than Cute Photos)

google great content

We’ve all heard it said: Google+ is the photographer’s social network. While it’s true that Google+ is a great platform for visual media, our followers have proven time and time again that content is king.

Admittedly, for a long time we believed that photos meant everything. We would often leave what we considered more “boring” content off of Google+ in favour of instagram shots or high quality photos. These images definitely performed well, and you should always try to pair up content with a great visual. That said, we soon discovered that high quality content, even when only paired with a small image preview, will always get the highest number of shares and +1s.

This comes back to the intelligence and passion of Google+ users. They know what content and information they’re after and they actively seek it out in communities, in searches and, if you use the network correctly, on your brand page.

More Google+ Resources

The 3 Best Types of Google+ Content

Why Google+ is Sneaking up on Facebook

Google+ for Brands: 4 Reasons your Brand Should Be on it

Written by

souravghosh 5pts

You guys are one of the most engaging brands on Twitter, I've seen so far. Obviously you are taking the same culture to Google+. I think the basis of success in any social media channel, is showing that you truly care for your people. And that is the reason, HootSuite grew so much over time. Always learning from you guys. Thanks for everything. 

BMXer 5pts

I post to G+ simply because it's an option on my Hootsuite Dashboard.  I don't understand much of how it works, and I can't ever seem to find the salt or pepper when I do attempt to take a couple hours to try and update it and figure it out.  My page is a whopping +97 with 43 people having it in their circles (after 18 months).  No clue what that means, but I reckon it's pretty bad.

Can anyone offer a link to a solid primer on the G+ features and their Facebook counterparts, or how the thing works in general?   Preferably one that doesn't read like stereo instructions. 

Right now, all it is to me is the bus stop a block away from the end of the line. My audience doesn't seem to be here at all, so it's tough to invest serious time in building out content nobody is ever going to see.  Sorry to be a downer, but I want to see the light.  They way I'm hearing it from everyone here, there's a party happening somewhere in this building, and I may be on the wrong floor.

mdyoder 5pts

While I agree that G+ is a great platform, it's not necessarily the right one for every company. It depends on your audience and being present where they are. So, if you have a tech savvy audience looking for great content, G+ is the place to be. However, if your target audience is spending it's time on FB, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, YouTube, etc., then you better go there. 

Luke 5pts

I think far too many people undervalue G+.

KimberlyReynolds 5pts

Thank you so much Evan!  What a great post and I am so flattered to be included.  My comments were heartfelt. I truly was impressed by the Hootsuite social media team.  I even mentioned it to the CEO of Social Media Examiner, Mike Stelzner, as one of the brands I see doing a phenomenal job on Google+.   

evanlepage moderator 5pts

@KimberlyReynolds Wow, thanks for mentioning us Kimberly! Our conversation with you keeps coming back to us in positive ways. It's great to see this engagement resonate with so many people.

Toby Crabtree
Toby Crabtree 5pts

Very interesting and useful blog shared Evan. Thanks alot!

Lori Sailiata
Lori Sailiata 5pts

Yep, Google Plus is about good content plus in depth engagement. It is a more thoughtful crowd that would like more that a bite-sized tweet. It's easy to dig into a full meal on a topic with point and counterpoint fully represented. 

evanlepage moderator 5pts

@ltsailiata Definitely. They're after substance and don't mind spending more time reading to find it.

jimmy_daly 5pts

People hate on G+ but it rocks. It meets so many needs that Facebook and Twitter don't. Couple that with the obvious implications for SEO and its a no-brainer to invest serious time in it.