How to Share on Google Plus: The Home Stream
Right, now you are familiar with the ins and outs of Google Plus let’s look at how you can maximise these factors to create great looking items that people not only read but also click on.
If you are familiar with the characteristics of Google+ then you will probably have started to use some of these features without thinking. However, some of these features are very creative and really make the most of the features that Google plus have put into the platform.
Today we’re going to look specifically at sharing to “The Home Stream”. The Home Stream is the general homepage and is where you can see what the people you have circled are sharing. This is different from communities (which we’ll look at next week) due to the nature of the system. You are sharing to the whole world so it is more like a broadcast and you have to approach it more as though you are speaking to a mass of people.
0. Think About Your Reader(s)
This is point 0 because it should be your first action before you ever start to write your post. Think about your readers. If you are writing purely for yourself and your own therapy or enjoyment then you can forget about this but I’m willing to guess that isn’t the case as you are reading this post.
If you want people to read your post then you need to make it about them, after all your writing should be about your readers. When you start thinking about what your readers are looking for, what they are interested in and what they want, it will shape the way you share (and act) online for the better.
Generally, people don’t want to just read on social media, they want to interact (or at least feel like they can even if they don’t choose to). When they face the choice between reading the post by the guy (or girl) they know or the institutional account that is distant and impersonal…guess which they choose.
1. Add A Title
The headline of a blog post is important and so is the title you add to your Google plus post. Especially when you consider that when you share to the community you have to convince people to read this blog post and not another.
You can create a title for your post by using the bold formatting (surround words with *) and placing it at the top of the post. Make sure that it is descriptive and yet also intriguing to insure people want to know more.
1.5. Bonus Add A Subtitle
If you really want to add some super styling then you can use your second line for a subtitle. This is a great way to have a two part headline which can really stick out from the crowd. The best way to add a subtitle is either by using a colon or by styling the subheading in italics (surrounding the word in _ ) and placing it a line below the heading.
2. Use A Stunning Image
Images are important for a few reasons but to sum it up in two points I’d say.
- People are visual and like messages in a visual way.
- A high quality image can take up the whole stream (instead of one out of two cards)
So not only are Images great at attracting attention in general but Google will reward you for using a good image by covering the whole width of the main stream in your image. That’s really going to catch peoples attention.
3. Give A Brief Intro
On twitter you can get away with not having an intro and not have any negative side effects. After all you’ve only got 140 characters to play with. But with Google pluses larger character length you can (and should) use an intro. There are three big reasons why.
- People don’t want to leave a social media site. Using a intro suggests it is a normal post and once they are engaged they want to read the rest
- If people aren’t sure if they really should read your post or one of the others on the page then you can convince them to read yours.
- It shows you care and have taken time. A link could be automatic or be from a person with little time. If a person has little time to write an intro, then they probably have little time to respond to comments, so why should I bother?
This can go completely wrong and end up being a mini essay but a good intro will grab attention and force the reader to continue.
4. Add A Question At The End
Not everyone will read your post, sometimes they will see the title and be ready to give their opinion without reading. Others won’t “have the time” to read the post. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gain their insights (good and bad) and some form of interaction may lead to them reading the actual post later. Furthermore, if people see that there are comments on your post they are more likely to read the post as well.
Try to keep it to one question (though feel free to add on “why/why not” as well) where you gain a persons insight (but don’t just settle for “What do you think”). Make it specific to the details in the post not generic and make it easy for the person to give their thoughts.
A final point is that you’d be surprised how much more people will give their opinion when you ask for it. Just make sure it’s a genuine question. No one likes forced questions where the person doesn’t really want to know the answer.
4.5 Alternatives To Questions
Sometimes questions aren’t right to add at the end. There is nothing worse than reading a question which is there just so there is a question. They stink of falsehood and fakeness and can really turn people off. Here are a couple of alternative ideas
- Set a challenge (based on the post)
Link to similar topics by other people
Mention people who might also be interested (be careful not to spam uninterested people)
A quote to tweet
An Action Plan
A Pinnable picture
5. Add relevant hashtags
Don’t go overboard here and add all the latest trending hashtags. You may get one or two more views but generally you’re just going to annoy people and appear desperate to your current readers. When you add relevant hashtags you insure that people interested in your topic can discover it, and that never looks desperate.
6. Share Publically if you want it to be shared.
One of the great features of Google plus are the circles. These allow you to share posts, messages and ideas with only a select group of people. This means you don’t need a separate private chat area or group messaging part but you can use the regular stream. However, when you share only to a circle, those people who see it are prompted not to share it and it isn’t discoverable by search or hashtags. You will limit the ammount of people who can see it and who share it.
There can be some great reasons for this but I’m guessing that in general you want your posts to be shared widely and found easily.
7. Be careful with Notifications
Google plus allows you to “send an email” to a circle that you are sharing your post with. We use this to send our rules and guidelines to people who want to join our community. We don’t use it to tell people about the latest blog post form our site.
There’s a very good reason for this. One we have a notification method via our email newsletter (feel free to sign up if you want) and the Google plus page which people can choose to be notified from when we post a new blog post. By choosing to send emails to people (with notifications) we would basically be spamming people. I’ve heard some people justify this with the statement that “if someone has followed me, they have opted in for notification.” That’s a load of croack. All they have done is choose to have your posts appear in their stream.
If you do want to notify people about your new posts on Google plus then I suggest you send a message to your followers and invite them to receive notification. Then set up a different circle who will be notified. That way you still gain the benefits of notifying users of your new posts without the slimy tactics associated with spammers.
Putting it all together.
Here is a great image from Dustin Stout on How this may look when you put it into practice.
However, there has been a slight change since Dustin wrote his original post. In the past Google only shared a small size image which would only take a single card, didn’t cover the whole screen and didn’t stand out. Now Google plus has changed to using larger images and as such, it is okay to add a link instead of a individual photo. In fact you increase the likelihood that people will click the link with the photo on and not just the photo.
However, If you have multiple links in a post then you may still wish to use a regular image to make your post stand out further.
How do you format your posts on Google Plus? Are there any tips you will start using?
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.