Google Plus is not dying, but your profile might be

If you’re on Google+, you’ve probably seen “Google+ is dying!” in at least a few posts. Maybe it is dying for some niches or business models, but in the music communities, I only see evidence of it growing. I suspect that some of the doom seers aren’t properly nurturing their profiles.  It does take some work, but only a few hours a week can make a significant difference.

Engage. In a word, that’s the key to Google+ success. You can’t just create a profile, then sit back and wait for others to come to you, you must engage with others, but there’s a right way and a wrong way.

Join communities. If you’re a musician, there’s quite a few active communities you can join. Turn on community notifications so you’ll know when there’s a new post and respond if it interests you.

Engage with the communities, but instead of posting directly to the community, post to your profile then share it to some communities. Post your thoughts on a subject, or a link to your blog post, latest YouTube video, or even a great article you found elsewhere. The “To” field will already have “Public” inserted, so just click the “Share” button. Now find this post on your profile, and click the “Share” button (it looks like an arrow). “Public” is still in the “To” field – remove it. Now click in the empty “To” field and you’ll see a list of your circles and Communities. Choose a community and click the “Share” button. You’ve now shared to your profile AND to a community without the post appearing twice on your profile. (Double-check this by choosing “View Profile as Public” at the top of the screen – if you are seeing this post twice, make sure this is unchecked : Settings > Profile > Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile.)

A very important note about posting links – always write a descriptive introduction.  Is it a new original song performed by your band? A blog post about the music industry? If I don’t have a clue, I’m not clicking.

After posting to a community, engage someone else. Find a post about a video or article that interests you, click the +1 button then post a comment about it. This puts a link back to your profile in the community (which may earn you some followers) and lets others know you’re an active engager, making them even more likely to follow you. The recipient of your +1 and comment may also respond in kind.

Follow others with similar interests. I initially did this wrong by creating circles like “Musicians and Bands” and “Music Businesses”. Once I realized how important the follow ratio is (the number of people following you divided by the number of people you’re following), I devised a better way. Once a week I create a new circle and include the date in the circle’s name, such as “New 2014-10-20”. This is the best way I’ve found to let me know WHEN I started following someone – we’ll cover why this is important later.

There are more ways to find others with similar interests – the Communities are a great start, but I also sometimes do Google searches. I’ve saved a few searches in a text file, so I can easily copy and paste into a Google search – here’s one :

tx|texas+musician|musicians|drummer|drums|guitarist|”play guitar”|”play bass”|”singer”|songwriter|”write songs”|”rock band”|”cover band”|”country band” site:plus.google.com

This search looks for profile pages that include “tx” or “texas” AND any of the following terms : musician, musicians, drummer, drums, guitarist, “play guitar”, “play bass”, etc. (the quotation marks are needed with a phrase). The last part means only search for pages on plus.google.com.  This search helps me find Texas musicians’ profiles, although it may also include profiles where Texas is merely mentioned in a post. I filter the search results by date, because I only want people who are currently active on Google+. (To filter by date, click on Search Tools, then in the second menu that comes up, change Any Time to something else – I typically use Past Week or Past Month.)

Another way I find relevant people to follow is by using Circloscope. I use the free version, but the paid version would make some of this faster and easier. This tool helps you find people who not only share your interests, but are active on Google+ – inactive people won’t comment on your video or follow you back!

In the Circloscope Dashboard dropdown, choose Engagers > Engagers of Specified Posts (not in my circles). A window will pop up. Now open your Google+ profile in another tab and go to one of your Communities. Find a post that is relevant to your interests that has at least a few +1s and/or comments. In the Options menu for that post (the down arrow at the top right of the post) choose “Link to post” then copy the link that pops up. Now go back to the Engagers popup in Circloscope and paste the link. Click the More button to add more links, and repeat this process until you have a few links. Click OK, and within minutes Circloscope will show you everyone who has plussed, commented on, or shared these posts – these are the kind of people you want to follow you, so you should follow them!  In the free version, you’ll need to add them one at a time (by clicking the + sign at the top right of each) but the paid version will let you select and add them all at one time.

Now about that follow ratio – there’s a reason this should be important to you. Google uses the follow ratio to determine how important your profile (and by extension, your posts) are. The more important Google thinks you are, the more visible you will be in Google. Other factors count too, most notably relevance, which we’ve already covered by engaging with those who have similar interests.

To improve your follow ratio, load Circloscope and give it a minute to load your profile info and followers. Now let’s get Circloscope to load some info about our followers. In the Dashboard dropdown, choose Inactives > Inactive 3 months, then give it time to load this info. Now go back to the dropdown and choose Follower Count and pick a number. Your choices here don’t really matter, we’re just getting Circloscope to add this information to the profiles to help with the next step.

In the Dashboard dropdown, choose Relationships > Not Following Back. Once it has finished loading the results, notice three bits of info that will help with your culling decisions: under the profile name, in a dark gray circle on the left is the name of the circle this person is in (which should be dated if you’ve followed my advice), to the right of that is the number of followers they have, followed by date this person was last active in Google+. I usually look for someone I have been following at least a month. Click this person once to highlight, then in the Action dropdown, add them to your blacklist. (The blacklist is important after you’ve done this a while – it keeps you from adding and removing the same person over and over again.) After adding them to the blacklist, hover the profile result and click the X that appears in the top right to remove them from all circles. In the paid version, you can choose multiple profiles to remove at once.

Circloscope offers other tools to help you manage your followers, but the ones I’ve described here will give you the most bang for your buck (or time). As you work on building your followers, keep in mind that there is a snowball effect. It will seem slow at first, but as you gain relevant and active followers, it will start to snowball. Just keep working on adding and culling your circles on a regular basis (once a week has worked well for me) but don’t get so caught up in it that you forget the most important thing – ENGAGE!