Dissecting Google Plus with Andrew Harasewych

Dissecting Google Plus with Andrew Harasewych

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After Avtar’s encounter with Andrew to get his thoughts on Why Most Internet Marketer’s Are Wrong, I thought I’d track down the Google Plus Guru to get some great tips on G+ strategies. It was quite difficult nabbing him this time on the countryside of WWW. Nevertheless, here’s proof there nobody can hide from Beta21.

For those of you who are new to the digital arena, Andrew Harasewych is one of the top social media marketers who specializes in almost every area of online marketing. He’s a genuine know-it-all, who loves to share his knowledge and experience with the world. He’s also the COO of Weal Media, a digital PR firm and online marketing agency. Andrew is best known for his insights into G+, and has written several articles, eBooks, and tutorials for marketers to get a jumpstart on succeeding in this ever-elusive platform.

Here’s an exclusive uncensored interview with Andrew, where he divulges the secrets to success on Google Plus.

In your experience, what are the common obstacles that community managers face on Google+ and what are best practices that you can recommend for building a strong community on Google+?

Before building any community, whether it’s a community of fans around your page, or a community on a social network like Google+, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or even an old-school forum or Listserv (does anyone use those any more?), you need to think about your intended audience. Do you want to be a hub for thought leaders and experts to engage and discuss, or for beginners in your industry to get a foot in the door, or to learn the basics? Or maybe something in between.

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If you want to be an “advanced/expert hub,” you need to only promote the highest quality content. Quality in a community breeds more quality content and quality users. Sure, people will say they want an “all inclusive” community that walks everyone through the process of joining, but the problem with this is that your advanced users, the ones who post quality content, have large followings and audiences of their own, and can truly help build a community, they don’t want to deal with the noise. Advanced users get sick of seeing the same old “how to” guides for the basics. It’s what we’ve done in the Social Media Strategy community. You won’t find the same old regurgitated posts about the “5 XXX you need to get XXX Engagement.” Instead, you are more likely to find expert analysis of the latest Google search algorithm updates, or the analysis and overview of a recent social campaign by a major player in the industry. It’s a place for intelligent conversation, not a continuous stream of “How do I do this” single line posts. Sure, there needs to be a place for it – but every community cannot be everything to everybody!

Focus on your priorities and goals, whether it’s a place for beginners to just hang out and chat, or if it’s a place you’d prefer experts to post. The way you run that community or the types of things you share on the profile or page around your community have to reflect that.

Formulating a strategy that works usually involves trial and error. Is there a case that was particularly interesting in your experience?

Something I’ve been learning over time is that some battles will never be won. On the internet, there will always be someone who wants to disrupt a comment thread, or argue just for the sake of argument. You need to learn to pick your battles, and give up the fight when the battle is lost.

It’s amazing to see the simple things work. Working as a webmaster and social consultant for a popular podcast series (by a certain popular astrophysicist who will remain nameless) has really been a blast. Something that has been fun is working with this huge pool of fans and followers, and really being able to get almost instantaneous feedback and engagement on posts. When I started, all the posts were simple 1-2 sentences and a link, and sporadic. No real schedule or focus on Google+, it was more of an afterthought. Engagement was not bad, but certainly not on the same level as Facebook engagement at the time.

By simply focusing on unique content, sharing content from sources other than ourselves, formatting posts (with bold titles, italicized quotes, and underline for emphasis!) and being consistent with all of this, not only have we since seen engagement skyrocket from current fans, but we were quickly added to the Suggested User List, and since October of last year, the page following on Google+ is over 2.5 million users. That is over a 1000% increase in following in just eight months.

What tips do you have for social media managers that have to develop a good Google+ strategy?

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I’ve found that most often, people fail on Google+ because they treat it like other networks. This isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Don’t just assume you can port the same one-liners and low quality clickbait type activity to Google+ and achieve the same results. The number one piece of advice I can give people is to be descriptive. If you drop a link – be sure to take a paragraph or two and describe the content of the post. Anyone can go to a search engine and just get a list going to see when we get there. Well described posts ALWAYS do better than a post with just a single line, or no additional text/commentary at all, especially if you have not had the chance to build up some trust and authority in a subject. To give you an example, if Vic Gundotra posted a single link with no description, he’d likely still go viral with the post. If a newcomer to Google+ does the same, nothing will happen.

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The reason for describing a post, in my opinion, is twofold. First, link litter (as we call anything with just a link and sentence or less) is lazy. It shows no care, no effort, and proves nothing to others about your own ideas, abilities, and experience. By taking the time to describe the post, you show people that you have read and digested the information yourself, and you have a chance to prove some authority on the subject by expanding upon and making comments on the content. Secondly, all of this additional text helps your post get found! Remember, this is Google after all. People search all the time. By targeting your post content, just as you would blog content, you can actually influence keyword searches for your potential audience. Not only are these posts found within Google+, but as Google nearly instantly indexes every public Google+ post, you now have the chance of ranking on a Google+ post just as you would with a website or blog post.

Sure, your readers like when you deliver information. But people would rather engage and discuss if you share your analysis.

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I’m sure Andrew’s tips can help you rethink your strategies and build successful campaigns. We will jam with him again to dissect other tough digital subjects.

Tune into SMHangout on Google Plus for excellent G+ hacks from Andrew and many other experts.

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About Shruti Suresh

Shruti Suresh is a digital marketing professional focused on content and social media marketing. She is currently a Webjournalist with Beta21 working on analyzing current social media trends to provide useful insights that can assist in improving digital marketing strategies.
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