Using a Google+ Page for curating content, instead of your personal profile, is simple and extremely effective. This guide will give you everything you need to know to set up your curation page on Google Plus.
First things first: why should I do this in the first place?
Google Plus is a social network organized around interests, not personal connections. The structure of how we organize our circles, join communities, and interact with each other is all centered around interests and topics. Therefore, if you have an expertise in a particular topic, it is far easier to find other people who share that interest on Google Plus than other social networks. Similarly, people who are looking for authorities in a particular subject matter will find you faster, and be highly targeted, highly engaged followers.
Put simply, if you are looking to establish yourself as an authority on a subject, Google Plus is your ideal platform.
Why a Page, and not my profile?
There are three key reasons to use a Page and not a profile when creating a content curation system on Google+:
- You can assign Page Managers, and divide up the responsibilities for discovery, posting, sharing and monitoring to different team members.
- A Google Plus Page can be connected to your website. Every post, share, and comment on the content you post, especially if it’s from your own blog, is going to add to the +1 count attached to your website. A little “social proof” goes a long way.
- Your Google Plus page can be managed in part through third party social media monitoring systems, like Sprout Social and Hootsuite.
What kind of page should I create?
A curation page is different from a brand page. Its purpose is topical, and doesn’t even have to have your brand name in it. For example, you could have a curation page called “Twitter Marketing Tips.” The idea is to build a targeted following for that topic.
To the right, I have a curation page called A Better, Smarter Web Presence which, as you can imagine, aims to share the best resources when it comes to strategy on web design, social, online marketing, and online business.
Someone who wants to kick their website up a notch would benefit from following this page, since they will assume from its title that it shares content targeted at their specific interest.
Hopefully this will help you decide the type of curation page you want to create, or at least the topic you want to cover. Ready to actually get started? Let’s go!
Part I: Creating your Page and Posting Content
Step 1: Create the Google Plus page
I promised a complete guide, otherwise I would have skipped this step and assumed you had created a page already, complete with an optimized hovercard and cover photo. So, if you need this step, head to the official Google+ Help doc on how to create a Google+ Page.
Also, as to the actual “type” of page, it could be anything, but you would likely select “Corporate or Brand page” in the Page setup screen on Google Plus.
Step 2a: Content Discovery (External web pages)
To curate content, you need to discover content, right? Google+ is perfect for this task, but so is Twitter. So how do you get content you discover on Twitter into Google Plus?
1. Social media monitoring tools like Sprout Social and HootSuite have the ability to post content as a Google Plus page, so you could connect your Twitter account as well as your Google+ Page, enabling you to cross-post (more on that later), or save links as drafts.
2. If you discover shareworthy content for your page through Twitter, you could clip the article to apps like Pocket or Evernote, then go back to them when you’ve logged into your Google+ Page and are crafting posts.
3. You could create a private community with your Page and yourself (or team) as members; when you find shareworthy content, use the +1 button on the website (or a browser extension like this one for Chrome) to share the web page to the community. Then you have all the links in Google+ for easier access later.
Methods 2 & 3 are better for heavy mobile users, by the way (and on a web page, you could use the “Share…” function from your device instead of the +1 button)
Step 2b: Content Discovery (Google+)
There are three ways to find sources for content within Google+:
1. Communities – communities are organized around interests & topics, so if you post about a particular topic, find those associated communities. These are going to be your “listening communities” so don’t worry if it isn’t well moderated, or heavy with discussion. The reality is you need sources for information, so the more activity in the community the better…they’re doing all the discovery for you!
2. “Reading” Circles – As you find users who post regularly about particular topics, put them into a circle that you check often. Maybe even a subscription circle. Also pay attention to content that they share, because if it’s been shared from within a community, you could join it yourself.
3. Saved Searches – create hashtag and keyword searches for the topics you’re interested in curating. Start with the keywords, then take note of the hashtags (in blue) that Google adds to the posts; then follow those hashtags if they’re appropriate. (More tips on Searching in Google+)
Step 3: Crafting and Sharing Posts
This step can have as much or as little finesse as you like. Generally speaking, though, Google Plus users respond well to posts that have a title, some description, and attribution to the author.
Some tips on giving your posts a little more “pop”:
1. To +mention someone (for attribution/citation) outside the Google+ compose box, you can use their Google Plus ID preceded by a “+” symbol. So to +mention me, you would write +105076725141939280120 into the post. When the post is dropped into Google Plus, the string of numbers changes to the person’s name, in this case, +Stephan Hovnanian.
2. To add some markup, surround your text with *asterisks for bold* _underscores for italics_ and
-hyphens for strikethroughs-. You can even *_nest your markup for added effect_*
3. Add 2-3 relevant hashtags to the post as well.
4. Spend the time to look up the author of a post on Google+, it acts like a “social trackback”
Bonus tip: to find the Google+ user ID of a user, locate them on Google+ and either a) copy the string of numbers from the address bar on their profile page, or b) right click on their name and “copy link”. Pasting the link to their profile will also add the rest of the URL, so simply remove everything but the string of text. It sounds like extra steps but I think this is faster than clicking through to a profile.
As for sharing, you can schedule ahead of time using Sprout Social or Hootsuite, or simply post right to Google+. Nothing exciting to write here, just press that “Share” button!
So now you have a good idea of how to find and post content to your curation page. Next, let’s look at how to build those followers!
Part II: Building lists and followers
Remember in the beginning, where I said Google Plus was the ideal platform for those who want to establish themselves as an authority on a subject matter? This is where that idea comes into play. In some cases, people are simply going to find your posts by searching for authorities on the subject you’re curating. Expect this, and be sure to tell people in your About section what topics your page covers, and what they can expect from you.
This is very similar to building an email list. People who want to hear what you have to say are “opting in” to your Page by adding you to their circles.
In fact, let’s take the analogy further…a great email newsletter is focused, has a human voice to it, and respects its subscribers’ inboxes. If you do that with your Page, it will be very successful.
A great email newsletter author (people like Chris Brogan and DJ Waldow come to mind) also reward participation by monitoring activity from their newsletter and leaving comments, tweets, etc. This builds up an insane amount of trust between the author and their subscribers. You want that for your page, too.
Which now leads me to a little sidebar: In Part I, I recommended giving your Page a topical name. However, part of the list building strategy involves building trust, just like it does with email newsletters. To build trust, you really have to have a face that people can relate to. So, I would also recommend that your Page be transparent about who owns it. Even if the page is run by a brand, the brand will gain trust from the page’s followers.
Transparency definitely works to your advantage…for example, I have a page called NewGplusCovers where I try to curate information related to Google Plus covers. Since I post about a variety of things on my personal profile, those users specifically interested in my cover “coverage” can simply follow that page, and not have to feel inundated with the dozen or so other posts I share throughout the day.
Okay, back to list building…
Once you have built out your page with quality posts and a complete profile, it’s time to get some people to follow it. There are several strategies, each has its own place, and some will work better than others for your particular topic. I’ll list them below:
1. Share the new page to your own profile, with a writeup of what it’s about. You have built-in trust capital with your own followers (there’s that transparency thing) so this will likely be the most powerful way to get new people to circle your page.
2. Re-share your page’s posts to your own profile (and include a +mention of the page in your intro). If your own follower base re-shares you, then your page’s original post is the one that gets passed along. (More on sharing and re-sharing)
3. Interact with everybody who interacts with your page. Remember you want to build up trust with them so they help you build up your followers too. I’d recommend leaving a “thank you” comment from your personal profile instead of the page for that added touch (plus it’s easier to manage the notifications on that thread afterward)
4. Periodically ask your own followers if they’d be interested in being notified of an upcoming post. Then, go back to your post as your page and add all the “Yes” comments to a circle. Then, when you publish the post, send a direct notification to that circle from your page. (More on creating notification circles)
5. Shared circles – you can look for anybody who has shared a circle of uses who might be interested in your topic (usually the topic keywords followed by #sharedcircle will do the trick). Adding those people to your page’s circles could earn you a follow back. To use our example from Part I, if you found a shared circle of “Twitter experts”, and each of those experts got a notification that “Twitter Marketing Tips added you to their circles”, odds are good that they’ll add you back!
6. Re-share your posts into communities – Do this instead of posting directly. A community will most likely expose your content to a much higher number of users than your Page’s stream. Think about it, if only 100 people follow you, those 100 people will see your post in their home stream. That’s it. If you post to a community of 4,000 people, that’s 40x more exposure for your post, and possibly a longer shelf life as people come in and out of the community. Just be cognizant of any posting guidelines for the community so you aren’t labeled as a “spammer” or even banned.
Part III: Next steps
In order for your page to be successful, you are going to have to continually refine how you engage with your subscribers, find fantastic content, and grow your list. Authenticity and Attribution are rewarded on Google Plus, so keep those two things in mind as you move forward. Look at this page as a service to people interested in what you have to say, but in this case, only on a specific topic. For them, being able to see your best posts without having to endure the ones they aren’t interested in is a huge benefit to them, so respect that and nourish it, or they will likely drop both you and the page from their circles.
You might also want to periodically toss out the idea of subscribing to your actual newsletter, or converting these subscribers to a database that you have full control over. Like with all social networks, Google owns the profiles on Google+, not you.