How To Share On Google Plus: Communities
You might think that you should just do the same thing when you share to a community as when you share to the home stream but that isn’t the case. Communities are inherently different from the main stream (even if they follow many of the same characteristics of the main stream). If you ignore these characteristics then you can make your posts not appear within the community and limit your reach. But why is this such a big issue?
Google hates “spam”
Spam is quite a subjective thing, when one person gets an offer for a new car they may think it is perfect and glad they received it. Another person gets the same message and they consider it spam. Although it can be hard to tell if this is spam for one person or another there are some factors and behaviours that Google uses to determine if you are “spamming” or not.
- Have you shared this link multiple times
- Have you recently shared this link somewhere else
- Have you shared this link on it’s own or with something else?
- Have you shared the exact same thing somewhere else?
- Have other people reported your post as spam?
It’s not an exact science but you can see what they are getting at here. If you share the exact same thing to 100 communities in quick succession, chance are that it is wrong for some of these community and that you won’t be able to respond to the comments that come (Google really wants that, after all if people aren’t being social on it’s social network…what’s the point?)
It is better to share to one community well than 100 communities badly.
Most peoples logic for sharing to a community goes like this. Imagine there are 10 communities with 1000 members. If you share (the same thing) to a community then 5% of that community will click on your post. Therefore sharing to one community = 50 views, sharing to two = 100 until 10 communities = 500 views! How can you resist! Well the maths are faulty here.
Probably you are sharing to quite similar communities. let’s assume that half the members of community one are also members of community two (the actual numbers maybe different). In that case instead of getting 5% of 1000, it’s actually 5% of 500, so only 25 extra from community two. But when we add the third community, lets assume a quarter of community one’s members are also members here, but half of community twos members are also members here. Now 75% of the community have ALREADY seen the post somewhere else and there are only 25% who are going to view your post for the first time. By the time you get to community 10 the difference is negligible.
The pros and cons of people seeing your post twice
You might, rightly, be dying to point out that someone seeing your post twice can result in them being MORE likely to click on your post. It’s a good point but consider the two alternatives.
A. The stalker!
A friend keeps telling you that you have to check out this band. He tells you the same thing every day, all day. He just repeats himself and he is there where ever you go telling you the same thing. How frustrating right! This is what it is like when people post to every community sharing the exact same thing at the same time. You log in and you see this persons post, then they are in every other place you go. It’s like they are trying to force you to read their blog. Not a good impression right!
B. The Next Big Thing!
Imagine now that another friend tells you about a band he likes, he tells you a bit about them but you aren’t convinced (or don’t have time to check them out). Later that day he tells you a little more about them in a different way, maybe he shows you a picture of their cd or a click from their video. You get more interested and after another friend recommends them you are sold! You have to see what the fuss is about. These friends didn’t force you into anything, they prompted you politely.
Practical Steps To Share To A Community Better
This might feel like a heavy burden from Google (and you may think that I’m being evil by asking you to do this) but there are a few simple things you should consider when you share to another community to insure that your post isn’t hidden until it is moderated and to encourage more people to read your post without comming across as desperate or a pest.
1. Share only to relevant groups
This is the first and key step, don’t share to groups that aren’t part of your target group. The key reason for this is that you don’t want to be reported or “Spam”. Every time you are reported for spam or abuse, Google rates your profile worse and makes it less likely that people will see what you post and communities will have to approve every post that you submit. By sharing to relevant groups you guarantee more views (and a better use of your time) as well preventing
[Note: This doesn’t mean ONLY sharing to groups which match your description exactly. It’s a good idea to look for groups where there is cross over between your topics, but the weaker the link, the less you should push. For example, if you are a “Christian Mummy Blogger” then post in both Mummy blog communities and Christian ones, you could also look at “food” communities because mummy bloggers are going to be there, but don’t share a non food related post within the food community.]
2. Add a group specific intro
People don’t like generic messages, they want to feel personally approached and like people are speaking to them not to the crowd. If you go to a community and share a message which address the community in particular then they will be more likely to read your post. It’s like the example before when a person says “you like this band don’t you? Well these guys are similar.” It’s much more persuasive.
3. Stagger when you share
There are a few really good reasons why you shouldn’t post to a lot of communities with little or no time in-between. The first is that Google’s spam filter will view this badly and it increases the likelihood they will need moderation. The second is it makes you seem desperate and pestering people, and the third is that you are catching people only at one moment in the day. There are certain times when I am busy and just can’t read a blog post, it will drift down my reading list if it comes in at a bad time. Alternatively, there are other times when I am free and looking for things to read but I will start from the top of my list.
Even if I see a post that looks really interesting, I’m probably going to start with the more recent items. If you share at another time then you have a chance of catching me at a different, more free, moment in my day.
The power of this idea doesn’t stop there though. Catching me again later may make me reconsider reading your post, or maybe something will have happened in-between to influence my thinking. Finally, you can also reach people who are in a completely different time zone to you. All of these factors make for an extremely persuasive reason to share at different times but this is the single factor I see the least. I’m willing to bet it is due only to a lack of know how so I want to tell you about a couple of tools that can help you share at various times.
The first is Buffer, this is a tool which ties into a range of social networks and can even work out when your audience is most active online to help you share at the right times. The limitations of Buffer are you can only use it for a page and you can only post something publicly into the stream, not to a community. You may not want to repeat yourself here.
The second is do share, this is a chrome extension which will let you share from your account to specific circles or communities at what ever time you set. It also let’s you do some of the clever formatting that we saw in the last post. This tool is incredibly powerful and definitely worth checking out.
4. Give your Fans a Chance to share
This leads on from the point above but it looks so much better when someone else shares something instead of the person who created it. We aren’t impartial when we share our own things but we use more critical perception when we share other people’s things. Furthermore it adds social proof, it’s not one person’s opinion, it’s multiple peoples.
Of course, this won’t always happen and sometimes it takes more time but you should at least give people the chance to share your work.
5. Use Different formats
Often people just share in one particular style or format but people respond to different styles and ideas. Why not try sharing in a different way to different groups as an experiment. You may find a few interesting results as to what people respond to which you can apply to your general posting as well. Some ideas include
- Using images in different ways (I’m experimenting with a tool called Canva at the moment)
Adding a video intro
Message specific members who might be interested
Ask questions and get feedback from other members
compare and react to other members posts
6. Obey the rules and guidelines of the community
No matter what you think about a communities rules and guidelines there are reason they are there (even if they are stupid). Whether these rules are good or bad the fact of the matter is you should try to stick to them and fit in with the characteristics of the community. After all, you don’t want your posts to be reported for spam nor do you want to needlessly standout from the crowd for no good reason.
That is not to say you shouldn’t object to stupid rules, in fact it’s a good idea to point out to those who run and moderate communities when rules are bad, nor does it mean you shouldn’t try to push the rules and stand out from the crowd in constructive and meaningful ways. However, if there is a community which states that you shouldn’t share a link and you share a link, then you are going to be reported for spam and that will lower your rank.
Some personal ideas
The points above are general points which will be true no matter who you are. I stand by everyone of them and although they may take work, they are worth it. The following ideas are just that…ideas. I am not certain of them, they are the methods I choose and I can give some reasons and why but use more caution with these ideas.
1. Reshare your post from the main stream
This is a controversial one but there are a couple of reasons why it makes sense to reshare a post from the main stream.
- If you have created a catch intro, everyone gets to see that BUT you can still make a personalised community message as well
If you use Google comments system, then the comments will appear below your post in a different form to if you share individual posts. This can be good or bad depending on how you utilise it.
It encourages you to share a message directed to the community you are writing to and not repeat yourself (though you can do repeat the same message to other communities).
In the past, Google plus viewed this better than posting separate post with the same link. It was more transparent as to what you were doing.
It makes your post in the stream look better as it shows that it has been shared by someone. This makes other people more likely to check it out and share it themselves.
However, point four may no longer be true, I’ve certainly seen reshared post need moderation, and you can’t make the most of some of the other characteristics I mentioned earlier in the post. Furthermore, I’ve seen many people use this as a reason to share just the general stream post with no extra intro, missing out on all the benefits that can be provided by targeting communities individually.
Resharing a post from the stream is still a good option but I no longer think it is the essential method that everyone should really be doing.
2. Using an informal conversant style
This depends a lot on the type of community, but generally I try to treat communities as just that, communities. It isn’t an arena where we have to shout louder than other people, it’s a place to share, discuss and grow. As such I generally try to speak personally to people and engage with them rather than just broadcast.
Obviously, the larger the community the less this is true, it can become more like a micro main feed and in those situations it is better to take a more broadcasting and general approach.
3. Do Not Repeat Yourself
You certainly post the exact same post in multiple places or share the same things but in general I take the approach that I should NOT repeat myself, even if the community seems very similar. This is partially a mental challenge to myself, trying to push myself to think of better introductions, but it is also a stance that if I can’t allow myself to repeat myself then I will stay well clear of bad sharing.
What Tips Do You Have?
As I stated, these last points are personal and I’d love to know the tips and advice that you have for sharing to communities (even reasons you don’t do these ideas above). I also hope that the points above help explain why we have the rules and guidelines for our community which include such items as encouraging people to share post which are tailored to the community and not repeated from different places.
About Chris Wilson
I'm a 27 English as a foreign language Teacher based in Badajoz in Spain. I also run the Christian Bloggers community and enjoy writing in my free time.