Happy Monday, everyone!
Let’s start with a joke, then move forward to more serious stuff…
It’s Digital Monday (at least in this very moment as I’m writing this post) and I would like to share with everyone a short social experiment I did a couple of weeks ago, using the About.Me platform and GooglePlus. More specifically, how my profile page on about.me grew purely organic and how I did it.
5 Things You Will Discover and Learn From This Article:
1) How to Determine Which Social Media Platform Works for You
2) Reasons Why GooglePlus Proved to Be More Effective Than Other Platforms
3) How to Engage with Audiences on GooglePlus
4) Driving Traffic to Your About.Me Page Organically
5) Social SEO and Its Impact on Your Website
Opinions are my own and experiments are never perfect, especially since you cannot fully control them. If you like what you read, you can sign up for a newsletter and subscribe to this blog below:
Step 1: Determining Which Social Media Platform Works Best for You
Before I launched SERPlified in March, this year, I had a lot of time to think about what my website’s strategy will be: content, social, how to drive traffic, how to add more value to my personal brand etc. It took 6 months to plan everything. I did it on my own and in the same time, I had clients to care of. I still have, that’s why I started to look for a virtual assistant to help make my life easier.
But the point is I had around 6 months to research, experiment and see which social platform works best with my idea and my future business. This is how my social relationship looks like with every platform.
#1. Facebook, I Loved You but You Didn’t Return My Feelings
I have a personal account there since 2007 and several pages I manage. In December, I created this page called The Freelancing Lifestyle Diary. You could say my “personal brand” is that of one of the most successful Romanian female freelancers. I had national media mentions, cover stories, I was even mentioned in freelancing guides, training sessions and E-books internationally. So creating a page where I post Lessons learned in Freelancing seemed like a good idea to see how much “user engagement” I can get there. Facebook didn’t impress me much, though. I’d soon realized that my posts (all in English) would not generate the value I needed for the future SERPlified. It works fine with my personal account, but Facebook, really, I don’t want to pay so that people can Like me and my page and interact with it. I just… don’t!
#2. Twitter and Medium: Strangers in the Night
I had about 900 followers on Twitter and an account created 5 years ago. So I thought I could experiment with these numbers, too. On Medium, I created a collection entitled Diary of a Fulltime Freelancer. I even used them during night time (local time zone), so I could access the Timelines of my fellow overseas followers. My Twitter activity didn’t seem to generate enough mentions, replies and interaction. Nor did my Medium collection, with only 13 Followers. While these platforms worked great for my clients and their websites, for me alone they didn’t. I guess we were just mere strangers in the night…
#3. Instagram and Pinterest: Sort of My One-Night Stands
I’m putting these two in the same “room”, mostly due to the visual power they hold. The thing with Instagram is it never really attracted me that much. It’s more like a one-time only: I get so bored so what the hell, let’s post an image on Instagram and waste some time. I could very well upload images on my personal accounts and get Likes, Tweets, +1s for that matter. I made an account 6 months ago, haven’t used it that much and it really doesn’t click with me.
With Pinterest, we sort of clicked at some point. I made an account a couple of years ago while they were “beta testing” it. I tried, okay? I really tried loving it. It just doesn’t work that well. I have 134 Followers and I rarely use it for myself. I used Pinterest for many clients and combined it with business profiles and analytics, which worked more than fine for them. But again, not for me. Nice visuals, nice pins, very crowded. From time to time I waste 15min to scroll the timeline and see what’s new or to search for clothing and hairstyle suggestions.
#4. LinkedIn and Youtube, my Friends with Benefits
One professional, the other multi-functional. Just what an SEO chick needs, right? I tried Youtube for my other personal blog, but the numbers didn’t soften my heart. For now, it’s more friendship and less benefits. At some point, I will use Youtube as an asset to Google+ and Hangouts when the video tutorials will be ready for launch. But until then, Youtube will stay dormant for the marketer in me, I’ll just use it as a normal user.
My other relationship with LinkedIn is about more benefits and less friendship. I used LinkedIn to promote my workshops, to transform online conversions to offline. For local marketing, it’s great. LinkedIn groups are one of the best tools out there. But I didn’t want local marketing for SERPlified, I wanted international. And International groups are so crowded, chaotic, lacking of social management. It got on my nerves, so I decided to unsubscribe from those groups and lead a more peaceful existence.
#5. GooglePlus, My Prince on a White Horse
I’ve been on GooglePlus since the very beginning. You could say I was one of the few people who actually believed in it, being already sick and tired of Facebook and its limits. The thing with Facebook is that statistically speaking, it’s not convincing. I do not get full access to a set of data, which irritates me to the bones. GooglePlus seemed like a decent place where I could interact with international mentors, which people of value and quality. After communities were introduced, I jumped right into being active and experimenting “the vibe”.
And I loved the level of user interaction in communities as opposed to Facebook groups. And the fact that I could use my personal profile and get as much exposure as I would with a business profile. And the fact that I could organize my circles – that’s where GooglePlus won my heart over. So I decided to use GooglePlus for my new website, SERPlified without having too much of a commercial presence: I was still Roxana, a GooglePlus user.
Step 2: Why GooglePlus Proved to Be More Effective Than Other Platforms
I realized around this time last year that GooglePlus will “explode” at some point in popularity after several articles I contributed on my SociableBlog account had more Google+ mentions than Tweets or Likes. If in 2012 I would get tens of tweets and likes, in 2013, I had more +1s than other social media mentions altogether per article. So it was a clear sign that GooglePlus was the right choice for me. Why it proved to be more effective than other platforms:
- a) I could reach Influencers and get valuable insights from the right people at the right time
- c) Brainstorming on GooglePlus was actually taking place in comparison to Facebook
- d) I found communities that were active and had members who shared the same ideas, principles and visions.
- e) Communication levels grew exponentially in the last year and I was hungry for knowledge and interaction
Basically, everything I needed, wanted and could use for my personal brand and for my new website was more on GooglePlus than on other platforms. That didn’t mean I would give up on using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, but I did mean I had to focus more on one and less on the others. And that is what I did.
Step 3: How to Engage with Audiences on GooglePlus
Engaging with audiences on GooglePlus is the first step into breaking the ice. I’ve touched that point in a recent article about the power of communities. You should totally check out that Case Study on local community engagement. Here’s my favorite quote below:
The key to engaging on GooglePlus is… STANDING OUT. Surprised? I don’t think so. Social interaction nowadays is all about being true to yourself. If you have a strong personality, don’t be afraid to make yourself heard. Sure, not anyone would listen to you, but there are people who might.
Here are my 5 Principles on GooglePlus Audience engagement
#1. Read. Stand out by Reading what people have to say on GooglePlus: follow those who share common objectives (personal, professional), but don’t restrain your circles. Create a circle with people who are fun and read them from time to time. Create another circle with experts and read them on a regular basis. Have a look through the timeline and see what’s new. Create a daily routine to your GooglePlus activity. In order to be followed, you must follow. Here’s how my “heatmap” looks like in terms of people who follow me. I get more followers from Europe than from the US. I used CircleCount to generate the stats. If my goal were to be more US followers, then I’d have to work on following and being followed back by US residents. Check your own and see where you stand.
#2. Observe. In Statistics, we share this important principle: the Observation process. You cannot analyze and get involved or research without observing a pattern, a behavior, an attitude. So start observing: your circles, the communities you wish to join or have already joined, what people have to say about GooglePlus, the trends. Through observation you get access to knowledge. You cannot stand out without knowledge.
#3. +1 and Share. After you have read and observed your surroundings, then start to engage on a generic level. Nothing out of the ordinary, at a first glance. But don’t over do it. You don’t have to share and +1 every single status of those in a particular circle. Or to +1 and share every post anyone publishes in a community. NO! Be smart.
But how I can stand out otherwise? Here’s how you can do it: By now you should have a couple of people who have added you in their circles. There should be people who follow your timeline posts, too. So for them, even if it’s 5, 10 or 50 people, filter what you +1 or what you Share. Filter and only enhance information that is publicly relevant to those who follow you.
#4. Build. Here is how you build your interaction and engagement levels with circles and communities on GooglePlus.
What to share
- Funny Jokes, but not too many
- Visuals that connect with your audience
- Evergreen topics
- Information relevant in their area of expertise
- GooglePlus related data
- Personal introduction in communities.
Always present yourself after “joining the table”. Imagine you’re in this bar and you see a table of people enjoying their beer. They seem like fun. So you go to their table. What’s the first thing you do? It’s a) you ask permission to join in; b) you present yourself. There shouldn’t be a difference to a live table and beer talk compared to a social community/group.
Where to share
- Your own personal profile
- Your page (extra caution here)
- Active Communities (extra caution here: follow their posting guidelines)
How Often to Share
- No more than 2-3 times per week for Community postings (let others have a voice too)
- No more than 1-2times/day on your personal profile (extra caution on not looking too desperate)
- No more than 1-2times/day on your own business page
#5. Make yourself heard. This means that you should now interact through comments, Google Hangouts and more. If for the first 4 principles you basically stood out through online behavior, for the 5th principle, it’s Time to stand out through words and voice. So choose your words carefully. Do not engage with words only to create some buzz. Communication is efficient when it adds value to the set of information the other party already has. You build on their foundation and add extra stores: that’s how you communicate efficiently. After you’ve applied principles #1, #2, #3 and #4, this is the last thing you need to keep in mind before driving traffic organically. We could call this last principle the SOS principle: Stand Out Smart.
Step 4: Driving Traffic to Your About.Me Page Organically
First off, this is what happened to my GooglePlus account after following these simple 5 Principles:
I created my account in July 2011, almost 3 years ago. I started to apply my own principles in November 2013, which led to a growth in Followers, from 1,000 to 1,500+, in Comments, PlusOnes and Shares. The charts exploded thanks to GooglePlus Communities.
In March, I joined another extremely active community called PlusYourBusiness – they have a cool blog offering advice on GooglePlus, so read them on the PYB Blog. And basically, after going through principles 1-4, I moved to Principle #5: I started to SOS (stand out Smart). It quickly generated a lot of organic search: people looked me up on Google and checked my About.me page, which is indexed naturally on the first page. And then, this happened…
How It Happened
- On Monday, March 30th I had 400+ profile views from Google search queries. I got an email informing me that my profile is on the “Popular” Page.
- On Tuesday, March 31st I made to to the “Featured” Page. I then had around 2,600+ views (2nd graph).
- On Wednesday, April 1st (no joke about that) I was informed I made it to the “Staff Picks” Page on About.me. I had around 3,200 page views.
- That week I had approx. 13,500 views. And the rest is in the graphs…
Step 5: Quick Look at Social SEO Components and Its Impact on Your Website
Okay, so we are here. Let’s add some more graphs to this story and quickly run through this, as I’ve had your attention for far too long.
Having more than 13,500 views on About.Me certainly made people click my website and see what’s the deal with me. The Referral values acquired a value of 59 in terms of Sessions. Referrals came from the about.me page. It was long before getting mentioned in two posts on two different company blogs. Though the values are lower than Direct or Social. Social also presented more sessions in comparison to Direct traffic.
There’s a lot to talk about here. I will do a follow-up in the upcoming weeks on a social seo experiment involving GooglePlus and SERPlified. More details to come.
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