A Primer for Sharing Your Content on Google+

"Google+ increases your page rankingIf you are new to Google+ or perhaps not yet a guru, some things may not be completely clear to you. Maybe you could even call them a little “muddy.” I know that is the case with me.

Sure, I have been on Google+ for a while. Connecting with people, sharing content (both mine and others), commenting on posts and the ol’ favorite the +1. Gotta do some +1s!! But sometimes we make social media mistakes. Usually because we don’t entirely understand the platform or how people use it.

sharing google plus

 

For example, while I was sharing something recently, I got a message from a guy in one of my circles:

Why did you share that with your Circles & Extended Circles and not just Public?

Good question. To which I did not have an answer at the time. I had just noticed that there was an option for circles, and extended circles and figured – what the hey, the more the merrier — Right?

Now I knew it was time to take a good look at all those sharing options Google+. What are all those crazy options? And what do they do?

In this post I will explain, in the simplest terms possible, how to share a post on Google+.

So what is all this sharing business….?

When you click on “Share what’s new” to start sharing a new post, you will see the following box.

Google plus default share

Here is a quick breakdown of the parts highlighted in the image, just so we are on the same page:

  • Text Content – Here you add descriptions and info on your post (links can be pasted here too)
  • Additional Content – Here you can add a photo, link, video etc
  • Share With (To Field) – Here you decide who/what you want to share your content with

It is not that complex, on the surface, but there are a lot of options here. So let’s dig a little deeper, especially into the “To” field.

The Simple Sharing Options

One of the most important decisions you make when sharing a post on Google+ is –– who do you share with? Understanding all the possibilities of the To field, however, is not always easy. So let’s break it down a bit.

The simplest three are the first three options that appear in the drop down (when you click inside the To field you will see it). They are:

  • Public – Everyone sees your post
  • Your Circles – All the people who are in your circles will see your post
  • Extended Circles – All the people who are in the circles of the people in your circles

A further explanation of Extended Circles: Think of it like this — all the friends of your friends, or two degrees of separation. Using this, you reach one level away from the people you know/circle. Not a bad deal!!

So if you just want to quickly share something, you can use one of these three. But let’s go a little further.

Sharing with your Circles

If you want to be slightly more specific with your shares on Google+, you need to start creating and posting to your circles.

It is a good idea to place people in the appropriate circles. You do have circles for different kinds of people you connect with, right? If not, check out this post to learn a bit more about circles. Then if you have something specific to share to your circle of Ancient Egyptian Basket Weaving enthusiasts, you share only with them. This way, you can share the appropriate content with the right people.

How do you do this? Again in the To Field, the circles appear in the drop down, just below the other three options mentioned above. You can add multiple circles to a post — if the information is relevant to more than one circle. If it is relevant to all your circles, distribute to “Your circles.” This includes them all.

Don’t spam people

If you add your circles to the post, you get the option to email them as well (see image below).

Google Plus email circle

 

Now this may seem like a good idea in theory, and may even get a few clicks, but sooner or later you are going to generate some hate mail. We all treasure our inboxes and hate spam, so don’t go contributing to the problem. If there are people in your circle who  really want to be emailed, then fair enough, but I seriously doubt it. So don’t use this option unless you have a really good reason.

More Personal Sharing

You can also share something with just one person at a time. It’s kind of like sending an email, only without an email address. I have used it for contacting people whose email I don’t have, but am connected to on Google+.

Sharing with a specific person is also great for notifying someone specifically that you have shared something of interest to them OR that they have written and you have shared. Informing the author of a post can be used to gain some kudos with influencers. I wrote a post about 30 Social Media Influencers and got quite a few reactions from some great pro bloggers.

Unlike the Public style sharing, the person will get notified — so, use with caution. You don’t want to spam everyone with your posts.

So how do you do this exactly? There are two main ways to add a person to your Google Plus share:

1 . In the Text Content field OR To field, you can add the person by:

  • First typing a  “+”
  • Then start typing their name.

Google will then provide you with a predictive search box with the best match results. If the target person does not appear, keep typing.

Google Plus predictive search

Beware: if you click away at any point, you will lose the search and have to start over again. So is there a more usable option? Yes! Read on….

2. A more user friendly way to find people is using the search Google Plus provides. Simply click on the little head icon at the right end of the To Field and you will get the search box (shown below). You can then search by name/email and filter using the menu on the left (i.e, narrow it down by circle, etc).

Google Plus people search

 

Either way, you should find the person you are after. If you don’t, try finding them on their blog or website, and see if they have a Google Plus connect button. Then you can circle them first.

Spread the Word with Communities

A secret weapon for spreading your content is to use Google+ Communities. Facebook has Groups, Pinterest has Group Boards and Google+  has Communities.

They enable you to connect with other Google+ members with a common interest. Most of them are public and you can find them via the Communities Page search. Use key words for subjects you are interested in (e.g. Social Media, Blogging — my keywords) and you most likely will find potential Communities. Then simply click on the community and join (the join button is usually on the top right of the community’s page).

Lilach Bullock has a great post explaining Google Plus Communities if you need more information.

Tips on Communities:

  • Before you post anything in a community read their conditions. I failed to do this once and was reprimanded. So learn from my mistakes.
  • Don’t just post your own content, i.e. share, don’t broadcast.
  • Also, don’t post advertising style or spammy posts, like selling stuff or just promoting your new course.
  • You can’t share with other groups (circles) at the same time as a community. If you wish to do this, you need to share again (or re-share) it.

Once you have joined communities they will appear in the To Field of the share box. So when you are sharing, you can choose to share it with the community instead.

When you choose a community, it will also show you the sub-pages/categories of that community where you wish your share to be posted. Below is an example of this:

Google Plus community share

So now you have three options for sharing. Publicly, specifically and communities.

But what if you want to restrict re-sharing or commenting on your posts?

Don’t Share My Post!

This is not something you normally need to do, but if you want to restrict re-shares or comments then read on.

Google added this feature a while back, and also made sure you can restrict these things while you are creating the post. To access these options, simply click the little down arrow next to the head icon on the left of the To Field (see image below — I know that was a little confusing).

Google Plus restrict sharing

This gives you the option to stop people commenting on, or re-sharing your post. I am not sure why this is needed, but if you use it, let me know why. I am intrigued!

Tips on Post Content

Although not the main intent of this post, I wanted to give you the complete picture. So I thought I would provide a little info on post content.

I am still learning here, but the following are some tips I have gathered from various reliable sources:

  • Start with a quick title and summary of the post
  • Add the link
  • Add hashtags that are relevant (below the link if possible, makes the post more readable)
  • Add a separate picture (wider is better as it takes the whole G+ frame)
  • Write a lengthier description of the post to compel people to read further
  • If it is not your post, include the person in the description using their +name (e.g. A great post from +Ashley Faulkes today on…..)

Further Resources

Learn more in this post on the Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ Post  (the above points are expanded upon in more detail).

Here is an infographic on content strategies for Google+ to give you some more ideas on sharing.

Finally, please make sure you optimize your Google+ Profile so people will connect with you. Otherwise, sharing might not lead you anywhere worthwhile, as people will not engage and connect.

Summary

Sharing on Google+ is one the keys to increasing engagement on the platform. The rules are not always clear, but sharing to the right people — either widely (public, extended circles), to your circles or privately can really make a difference in getting your content read and shared.

See you on Google+.

Ashley Faulkes is an experienced Blogger and Web Developer who is interested in everything from WordPress, SEO, Social Media, Web Design, Blogging, Entrepreneurship to skiing! You can find him via his blog MadLemmings.

Photo Credit: [phil h] via Compfight cc

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Comments

  1. Good basic suggestions for people that have not yet started using Google Plus.

    Have been a member since it started because of the importance for SERPS, Google Authorship and so forth.

    My problem is that it’s not an exciting place to be. So I just post content on a regular basis to keep Google happy, +1 other people’s posts and so forth. Would love it if Google made an effort to make it interesting and fun. Would make a huge difference, not only for me but for all people using social media. .

    • Hi Catarina, indeed G+ is not the most exciting and fast moving place to be, but it has a lot of great information and is a little more tailored towards business than Facebook, which is perhaps the next most similar site.
      I too have found it a bit tough to get going on there. As the content is either overwhelming or too separate. maybe someone needs to come up with a tool to give us another view on the data, like with Twitter related tools.
      Thanks for dropping by
      ashley

  2. I find I like G+ more all the time, but recently I’ve had the need to mute a few people I’ve added because they choose to email every post to their circles. I think I’ve only mass-emailed twice in two years on G+.

  3. This is great info on Google Plus. I do like the Sm formate. I knew a bit of the information you’ve shared but you’ve helped fill in the gaps. Thank you for that. 🙂

    • Hi Susan, hope you are doing well
      The aim was to clarify what it’s all about. The gurus and experienced people know most of it, but if you have not used G+ much, it gets a bit confusing sometimes and the manual is hard to find :>

  4. Helpful summary. Thank you Ashley.

    I cannot think of a reason yet to use the “email” too feature. A post gives notification enough.

    A few days ago I came across a post with both comments and shares disabled. It was a selective invitation to join a circle. Obviously if it would allow comments and shares it would not have been – selective.

    Thanks for a complete summary.

    • Hey Patricia, I knew there would be a reason, as it was a requested feature in G+ – I read. But for me it did not seem obvious. The uses of a particular feature are often not what you expect, that is what I learned a long time ago as a software developer! People will always find a way to get where they want to go :>

  5. That email option is really unfortunate. There has been more than once that someone has circled me, I have no idea who they are so I give them a chance, and the next thing I know I’m getting emails each day that are of negative interest to me. Unfortunately, those poor people get blocked in order for me to stop getting their (ahem) garbage.

    I should make more use of communities. Good idea to read the terms and conditions – I have a WordPress question (about WordPress multisite), and I’m wondering where I should ask it. Perhaps I’ll try a few places.

    Thank you, Jeannette, for having Ashley post about G+.

    • Leora — It’s interesting that I haven’t been spammed by people who have circled me. Maybe it goes into junk mail, who knows? Regarding your WordPress question, I’d strongly recommend you join the LinkedIn WordPress Group. When I first started blogging I had a lot of questions and the members were very helpful. Many are webmasters hoping to make connections, of course, (and why not?) and that’s how I met my webmaster. He was so helpful I finally hired him!

    • Hi Leora, I got one just this week who specifically spammed a whole bunch of people, or so it seemed. I just try to ignore it
      Communities are time consuming in some cases, if you want to do it properly. It is hard to be everywhere on social media

  6. I am just started to use Google+. You did a great job of breaking it down. After reading different blogs I am starting to understand the importance of different social media platforms. Knowing that Google is a major search engine, I can see where to promote on Google + makes a lot of sense in regards to SEO.

    I plan to check out the the communities and will read the terms and conditions, which most of the time I will just check off and don’t read at all.

    Jeannette, Ashley guest post was very much appreciated.

    • Arleen — I learned a lot, too. I haven’t been active in Communities although I’ve been invited to join a couple. It’s a question of time and balance and where you allocate your time or you could be on social media all day!

  7. This is a great guide for getting started with Google+ Ashley. I couldn’t agree with you more about not emailing when you share. Unless, the email comes from someone I know, I almost always mute the person and sometimes I’ll uncircle them too.

    • Hi Sherryl,
      People have the right intentions in many cases, but just don’t realise how it comes across. All we can do is try to steer them in the right direction. I got a similar steering from a post by Mike Alton recently where he told us how to use Google+ more positively >:
      Just keep learning!
      ashley

  8. Great and useful post. I’ve been having fun on Google+, I find it another way to catch up on what people have been up to. I have never used the email option, not sure I even noticed it was there, but I’m quite content to ignore it now that I know it’s there. 🙂 I’ve received a few emails from people through Google+ and wondered why I was getting them, now I know. I get enough email that don’t want more and presume other people feel the same.

    Since I started posting my blog to the Google+ I show up in search results more and consequently get more visits, so the benefits are obvious.

  9. Wow, I really appreciate this post! Yes, I’ve also been on Google+ sharing away. However I didn’t realize that you could restrict posts to not be shared, the point of Extended Circles, or the ability to look up fellow Google+ users. Thank you for writing. Oh, and I discovered and then shared this on Google+ of course!

    • Thanks, Shona, for sharing the post on Google+. I learned about Extended Circles in this post, too. Always something new to learn.

  10. I am far from a pro on Google+ and need all the information you can supply. With that said, I also agree with Catarina’s comment, I don’t hang around too long there.