Sharing and re-sharing are big parts of the Google Plus culture. Although, if you’ve paid attention to any content that “gets legs” on Google Plus, you’re bound to notice some users spreading the word differently than others. Ever wonder why that happens? Let’s find out…
3 Ways to Share Content on Google Plus
In the spirit of example, let’s look at a guest post I wrote for Mike Allton‘s blog, The Social Media Hat, on brand monitoring and social listening with Google Plus. This is a really good example, actually, because while I have a vested interest in the blog post’s success, the fact it’s on someone else’s website means I’m not the one in complete charge of promotion.
Here is Mike’s initial post on Google Plus about my guest article on social listening:
Now, let’s start sharing, shall we?
Option 1: Share the original post
Why you would do it: Getting Mike’s post as many shares as possible will hopefully help vault the post into the “What’s Hot” recommended stream, where we can be sure of more click-throughs, comments and re-shares. Since traffic to his website is important to me, I want to share his post and help his chances of getting it into the What’s Hot stream.
When you’d avoid it: There are two primary reasons to avoid sharing the original post. First, if the post itself is missing key elements, like a +mention of me or simply a poor writeup, it’s unlikely the post will garner the necessary interest in the first place to hit What’s Hot. So, I’ll focus my efforts to promote the post in other ways (and fortunately, this was not the case). Second, if I wanted to create another instance of the link to the article, perhaps as a photo post for more visual appeal; or if I had a lot of insightful commentary I wanted to add. More on that below. Third, maybe I wanted to promote the link to a Google Plus Community that had specific guidelines about link posting.
What happens to your post: When I share Mike’s original post, my shared post stays on my stream, where my followers can interact with it. However, if any of my followers re-shares it, all my commentary is lost…their share only passes along Mike’s original post. In this case, I’m okay with that…a re-share is good for Mike because it widens his influence in the Google+ Ripples diagram (see below), which tracks shares and re-shares of content. The more influence Mike has, the better overall performance this link will have.
Option 2: Re-share someone else’s share of the original post
Why you would do it: As I described above, a re-share will boost the influence of the person whose post was re-shared (me), as well as the original post’s user (Mike). Re-shares are important when you are trying to get the word out about a post; perhaps by re-sharing into communities or by re-sharing from your various brand and curation pages.
When you’d avoid it: Avoid re-sharing when you have something really insightful to say about the piece of content. Back to our example, if someone re-shares my share, all my wonderful words will be left with my post…they aren’t carried along with Mike’s. Another reason to avoid re-sharing is if you know the post has had its initial run, and want to start putting it out there again, maybe this time as a photo with a link, or with a completely different introduction.
Are you confused yet? Check out this tutorial and video walkthrough on Google Plus sharing and re-sharing.
What happens to your post: When my business page re-shares my share of Mike’s original post, none of my commentary goes with it. However, because someone re-shared me, my sphere of influence in the Google Ripples diagram gets bigger. Since I shared Mike’s post from the start, his sphere of influence gets bigger still. All this helps push a post into the What’s Hot section, and give it more social influence in search results.
Option 3: Write a new post of your own
Why you would do it: As I mentioned above, the best reasons to write your own post about an already-shared piece of content is to create a new instance that can hopefully find its way around Google+ with new life. Having the link attached (not photos with a link pasted into the text) means the link will have SEO value, which means my fresh introduction could be filled with different keywords and emphasize phrases that Mike didn’t emphasize the first time around.
Quick note: ever want to write your own post (not share or re-share) a post that was written directly on Google+, versus a post about an external link? Well, all you need to do is copy the “permalink” for the original post by clicking the timestamp, then copying the URL from the address bar. Then, go ahead and write whatever post you want, and simply paste the permalink back to that original post into the link section.
When you’d avoid it: Avoid doing this when the original post is still making its initial rounds in Google Plus. Otherwise, if my version of the post starts to become popular, it will cannibalize all the hard work Mike’s doing to get his post into What’s Hot. Why dilute the pool at this point?
What happens to the your post: Well, you’re writing a totally unique post here, although it happens to be about the same content as someone else’s. In the Ripples diagram I get my own little circle next to Mike’s original one, assuming I attach the same link to my post (sharing a photo, with the link copied into the text, is a completely different Ripples diagram). I could even get my version into What’s Hot if I really struck the right chords with my followers.
Influencers and sharing: Which would you prefer?
Once in a while, you will have a post shared by an extremely well-known user on Google+, someone with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers. Looking at my examples above, let’s examine the benefits and risks of having influencers share or post separately.
If they share you: their gigantic audience could shoot your post into the Google+ stratosphere, earning you circle adds, re-shares, web traffic and a spot on “What’s Hot” for a few hours. The downside? Very little, especially if web traffic is important to you. Just keep in mind that the user, knowing that their introduction is not going to be re-shared by their followers, will probably keep it short and sweet. They’ll share, then move onto the next thing. Hopefully they’ll remember to +mention you, but keep an eye on your Ripples, especially if all of a sudden you start to see lots of circle adds, a spike in web traffic, or a new flood of comments and share notifications on your original post.
If they post separately: their profile could be passing on more “SEO juice” to your website than you could muster from all the shares and re-shares in being on What’s Hot. An influencer that is kind enough to write a well-formatted post, that includes your keywords, is doing you a huge SEO favor. The downside? You didn’t write it…this is their post. If they decide someday to clean up their profile feed, you could lose that link to your site. You also, obviously, don’t have control over what they write, so if their post starts to take off, or they forgot to include a +mention of you, your hard work kind of goes unnoticed.
So, to share? Or not to share? Which is best?
Choosing a promotion method for your content, or anyone’s for that matter, really depends on what your goals are for the post you’re sharing. Is it web traffic? Try to share and re-share so you can hopefully hit “What’s Hot.” Is it some SEO variation? Post separately. Or maybe it’s trying to breathe new life into a post that’s run its course. Repurpose the content, maybe as a photo, and share/re-share again.
These techniques aren’t meant to be “sneaky” or try to help you “game Google+”, they’re simply illustrating why people share the way that they do, and the benefits for different types of content promotion. Pick what suits you the best, and always remember to use +mentions to keep authors and sharers in the loop.
Addendum: With great power, comes great responsibility
After I shared this on Google Plus, a perfectly-worded quote from author and semantic search expert, David Amerland, arose. It’s worth adding here. While this post addresses some technical and strategic concepts behind posting and sharing on Google Plus, David reminds us that these actions define who we and how we’re perceived by other users:
…the totality of our shares emerges the character of who we are. Others can see whether we care or not about the content we share and the picture we project, they can see whether we are invested or not and then they respond accordingly. Our behavior is an integral part of the platform dynamic, what makes it different, unique, special even. That gives us incredible power and (just like Spidey) also responsibility.
Additionally, two other excellent discussions surrounding this post arose. I’ve summarized them here.