There's no shortage of blog posts touting the importance of having a presence on Google+ to generate social engagement. However, in this flood of information, have you been left wondering how exactly Google+ makes social engagement easy, or how Google+ is different from all the other social platforms?
Social engagement is an important part of Google's use of semantic technology in its hummingbird algorithm ranking of content, so it makes sense that Google would provide their own platform for social engagement. Below are a few different ways that Google is uniquely facilitating engagement with Google+.
Video Chats Reach Beyond the Participants
Skype, FaceTime and other non-Google video calling tools bring participants together in a closed video chat. What happens on FaceTime stays on FaceTime. Google+ offers another option: Hangouts on Air. Hangouts on Air take video chat to a whole new level, as people within these video chats are live streamed for outside viewers to watch and comment. As if that isn't cool enough, these hangouts are also recorded for future sharing and commenting, making Hangouts on Air a powerful tool for long-term engagement. Since videos generally get more traffic than straight text posts, this is a feature everyone should take advantage of, either as a host or a guest.
Content and Related Engagement Cross-Pollinate
Google+ and YouTube are "kissing cousins": when you hold Hangouts on Air on Google+, the streaming videos (and later the recorded versions) appear both on Google+ and on your YouTube channel. When people comment on a video, the comments appear on both YouTube and on Google+ as if they are one in the same. If you use a Google+ Comments Widget on your website, the comments that are posted there will also appear as if the comments were posted on Google+. All this cross-pollination means that more people see the comments on your videos and are more thus likely to engage themselves.
Reshares Ripple Back to Content Originators
On other social media sites, content originators often fail to get credit when others reshare their content later. But if you share something cool on Google+ and it gets reshared all over the place, Google+ gives you credit for being the first one to share it. On public posts, you can even see the history of your reshared content by viewing your Ripples.
Automatic Hashtag Assignment
Hashtags are those one-word phrases beginning with "#" and usually appearing at the end of a post. Hashtags are a great way to index your post and get found later, because people can search for hashtags to find content related to that subject.
Google recognizes the value of hashtags, too. When you post something on Google+ and include hashtags, Google lists the first three hashtags as hyperlinks in the upper right corner of a post. if you don't add your own hashtags, Google automatically assigns related hashtags to it. When readers click on one of those hashtags, they can scroll through other posts with the same hashtag. Still not clear on how hashtags are used? Search for #breakingnews on Google, Yahoo, Twitter, or Google+ (just to name a few) and see what pops up. Now imagine someone searching for a hashtag related to your line of work and finding your posts in the results.
Google+ Communities Invite Engagement
If you want to increase your visibility and ability to engage on Google+, start participating in public communities. Public communities (and even private communities where joining is restricted, but content is publicly available) provide a place where people can engage with each other about a common interest while also being visible in the public stream. This means that when any Google+ user is searching for topics of interest, a community post may catch their attention and solicit a response. If you are a part of that conversation, your engagement (and visibility) just improved.
+1s Make Minor Engagement Easy
Plus-ones are similar to Likes on Facebook. Plus-ones are an easy way for people to indicate they are in agreement with a post or comment. Such engagement isn't as impactful as a reshare or comment, but it is still engagement that influences ranking.
Want to learn more about Google+? Check out the other posts in this series:
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