Today’s guest post is really timely. In the last week, I’ve signed up for the new Google Plus service. But I’m not really sure what it is and how to use it. Fortunately Peter Mugi does a great job of explaining how to use this site…
Google Plus (Google+) is Google’s latest attempt at social network. It has become a hot talk on the internet (it accounted for 35% of tweeted news links in the week immediately after it’s launch in June 2011).
I like Google+ not only because it’s a great social networking service, but also since it’s an amazingly powerful tool for all bloggers and affiliate marketers. In just a few days, it boosted the visitor count of one of my blogs and assisted me to prepare a niche marketing campaign I’m going to launch soon.
In this article I’ll show you all bloggers and affiliate marketers how you could benefit from Google+. Before I introduce it, let’s have a look at some solid data.
Right below is the daily page view statistics of one of my blogs generated in WordPress. This blog received a doubled page view count since 9 Jul. The record was broken everyday.
The following box shows the top traffic sources of this blog on a typical day. Google+ has been the number one referrer, amounting to over 10% of traffic every day. These visitors are new to this blog. They got to know this blog only because of Google+.
I have an affiliate marketing project in the pipeline, following Steve’s Affiliate Marketing without the Bulls**t. Google+ helped me with two things, firstly getting ideas for writing free e-books and email auto responders. Secondly, I connected with many people who are interested in the niche, whom I could convert into visitors to my affiliate site when it’s done. In just half day I got over 200 people following me on Google+.
What is Google+? A Quick Walkthrough
Let’s see what Google+ is. I don’t intend to give a full review here. Google has great introductory videos that you could find on YouTube. In brief, it is a social networking tool that blends killing features of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and MSN Messenger into a unique service. You can share messages, photos, videos and links and communicate with your friends via text messaging and video conferencing. It has five core elements:
Circles and Sparks are more relevant to bloggers and affiliate marketers.
On Google+, each Circle is a group of people you follow. You add people to different circle according to their background. A person could belong to more than one circle. When you update status or upload anything (by starting a “stream”), you can go public or allow only selected circles to see it.
Sparks are where you collect information. You enter a keyword to subscribe, Google delivers relevant news to you. It works like Google Search, the only difference is that Google+ is automated. You don’t have to manually subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds.
Hangouts, Mobile and Huddle
Hangouts work like skype. You can have video conference with people in your circles. Up to 10 people could join a session. I saw a few people organized online meet-ups, pulling people with the same interest together. Bloggers may consider using it to connect to readers.
Mobile is the smartphone version of Google+. Huddle is a text-based chatting service.
How to Use Google+ for Blogging
Before I go on, let me remind you that Google+ is in field trial status (at the time of writing). You need an invitation to enable it. Good news is each existing user has a certain amount to send out (I heard that it’s 50). Ask your friends to get one.
(1) Get Writing Ideas
This applies to blogging and niche marketing. I do this by observing what other people are talking about and reading sparks.
Google+ works like Twitter in that you follow someone without his permission. You can view everything people posted as long as they allow the public or people in their circles to do so (most people do). Follow people in your niche, you’ll know what is the hottest topic in that niche.
Finding out these people is easy. If you know their email addresses (usually for famous bloggers), search them right from Google+. Otherwise, find people who have relevant keywords in their Profiles or posted relevant messages by using Google search. Read my blog posts about searching Google+ streams and profiles or a dedicated Google+ Search Engine developed by a Google+ user for more details.
You can directly ask your readers on Google+ for writing ideas. You can ask questions like “anyone bought XXX? any comment?” or “what do you like reading about YYY”.
The other way is to use Sparks. Subscribe to the latest news about a niche by entering relevant keywords. Say you are working on “second hand mobile phones”, subscribe to this topic in Sparks. Google lists out latest online articles and video related to this topic. It’s just like Google Search but everything is automated.
Use the above methods to find blogging topics, niche ideas or reference information for email auto responders.
(2) Build Your Brand
In principle Google does not allow non-personal Google+ accounts. Don’t worry, your name could be a brand. Go to Google+, make some new friends, offer useful information about your niche, people would gradually pick you up as an expert or someone who could trust.
While Facebook uses “like”, Google+ uses “+1” to award good content. You +1 a post if you think it’s great. Write better content to impress your audience on Google+, you’ll get many +1s which is definitely a proof of your authority.
(3) Promote Blog Posts/Niche Site
According to my observation, Google+ users are sharing animals. They love sharing whatever funny or useful. Copy the URL of your blog post or niche site, paste it as a new post in your streams, give it an eye-catchy description and watch how visitors flood into your site. Certainly your site need to have good content before anything like this could happen.
(4) Build Your List
I found at least 4 to 5 Google+ user lists built in some niches I like following. Things like “XXX users, join this Google+ user list” and “The Unofficial YYY list” are quite popular recently on Google+.
You can start a list from scratch by creating a new stream for people to comment on or open a Google Doc and ask people to put their names on it. Alternatively you could simply add everybody already on these lists.
The Google+ culture is quite open. If you follow somebody, most likely he would follow you back. For me, I get a follower for every 1.5 user I added. It is nothing extraordinarily, but certainly better than my Twitter campaign.
(5) Approach Your Clients and Freelancers
I personally did not use them too much, but some people think that Hangouts and Huddle are great tools for bloggers and affiliate marketers.
Assume that you released an info product and would like to provide two consultations to customers. Instead of email, you can directly talk to them by video conferencing and text chat. Besides, some people outsource tasks to freelancers. These communication tools are great for them.
Pandroid, an android phone web site, even used Hangouts to create podcasts. Those guys created a multi-party video conference and recorded it with Camtasia, a screencast creation software. The end product looks like a TV programme with more than one hosts. Tweak this method a bit, you can create how-to videos with a few people narrating. Put the video on YouTube for promotion.
Fellow bloggers and affiliate marketers, the above is my Google+ strategy. After using Google+ for a week, I found it very powerful. It brought a large volume of traffic to my blogs and helped me preparing my affiliate marketing site. Try it on your passive income project if you haven’t done so. It works