This afternoon on July 22nd, I noticed that Google Plus post from my Tumblr Blog got the big picture that stretches across the posts as opposed to a thumbnail.
Up until today every Tumblr post was a thumbnail in G+.
FaceBook gave post featuring Tumblr blogs a regular full picture but G+ has traditionally not considered Tumblr a desirable blogging platform.
I have read that Google does not, or in the past did not like Tumblr because it was too easy to share content. Easy to share content is one reason I use it. I like many of the stories and photos. As you may have noticed from my Twitter feed I use Tumblr to feed many of my social streams. There is a lot of very interesting content on Tumblr, and at the moment it is one of my favorite social sites. I do not get any spam on tumblr except occasionally Tumblr will be a little too aggressive in promoting their promoted content. If you have a Tumblr blog and you like my style of curated content I would always appreciate a follow. http://andrewledford.tumblr.com/
For me deciding which community to share a post in is part of being social.
How to politely post and promote in Google Plus Communities
While I was deciding which communities I wanted to add one of my latest blog posts to it occurred to me that I was using social connection to make the decision. I manage a large Google Plus community so I am perhaps more aware of the value a post can have for a community than most people are. A good post enhances a community’s value to its members. Now I am not so sure the post in question will have a lot of value or not for people. However, I think it is the kind of post social media people would find thought provoking.
I believe the owners and moderators in a community influence which communities I post in. At least which ones I post in first. There are also communities with strict rules about posting that make me a little hesitant. But I know how posting a lot of links in a community can be detrimental to the user experience, so I understand the policy. In fact my Dogs community is heavily moderated.
There is always the largest community in a category and it is tempting to want to post where the most people will see it. I am not so sure I agree with this. It often depends on if the community is well moderated and the culture of the group. I think there can be some advantages to posting in smaller communities. I do admit I also use the activity level in a community and the quality of posts as additional variable in making the posting decision.
Then there is the option of spamming all the relevant communities. This is probably the smartest internet marketing tactic. From what I have noticed blogs that do spam get more readers than those who are more polite. However, I really hate it. If I see someone doing this I will remove their post from my communities, so I try not to do it to others. In fact I think it’s a bit disrespectful and the opposite of social. There are a good number of G+ community owners who agree and think over posting is both spam and is anti social. If a person spams all the communities there is no need to carefully consider their posting decision.
Another thing I consider when posting in a community is if it is a private community.
A courteous posting practice is to post in only 1 community at a time. If posing to more than one community make each post different. I also try post at different times of the day. I believe it is even better to post on different days. That still leaves the decision of who’s community to post in first.
As well as trying to find the best communities to post in during the first part of 2014 I am trying to find the best posting intervals. I plan on experimenting with posting schedules during the first quarter of the year. With that said there are some communities that seem to encourage broadcast posting. I can see being more lenient with posting in these communities after you have posted in your target communities.
Here are some general guidelines I am trying to follow in my posting to communities
Pick the most relevant community to post in.
Don’t add the same post to several communities on the same day
Don’t share a post from one community to another one. Instead, create a new post for the second community. You may see me sharing between communities when I own both communities and I want to promote a new community.
Add commentary to each post
Make the commentary different for each community. The commentary should add a little extra value to the post
Consider the value a post will have for the community. The post should be relevant to the group as well as educate and/or entertain, don’t post just to get clicks – don’t click bait
Post in groups where I know many of the members, moderators, or the owner
Post in well moderated groups
There is more to making a group post than getting it in a community. Once the post is made then it’s time to listen. It’s time to monitor how well posting in that community is working for you. How much traffic came from the community? How much engagement did you get? Did anyone share the post? Did it contribute to interesting new people adding you to their circles? Did it contribute to you adding interesting new people to your circles? Over time did it contribute to any income directly or indirectly? I also consider if the post contributed something to the community I shared it in. Did it make the community I contributed to a little better?
I am wishing you the very best in business and in life, Andrew Ledford
I am fixing some issues with my old Google Places listing and the new Google Local listing associated with my G+ account. Some of the complexities of this integration has led me to investigate Google Places, Local, and Business pages a bit more than I had in the past.
The new inquiry has led to some rather tedious research on local Google Plus users. In the market I am investigating I have found some interesting and for marketers disturbing trends.
About 40% of the businesses in the industry I am researching have integrated their Google Places listing with the newer Google Local G+ Business Page. Out of those who have moved to the new Google Plus Local only 22 percent have a business profile picture. As we would expect even a smaller number make regular updates.
Google Local Business Reviews
I have been looking at local reviews to get an idea of their quality and how active reviewers are on G+. I am only looking at reviews that have a profile connected to them and that also contain a profile picture. Out of those the majority have no activity on their accounts. The ones that do have activity are predominantly YouTube posts.
About 3 in a 100 seem to be somewhat active and about 1 in 200 have been active within the last 30 days. Out of all the profiles I looked at only 6 have used G+ within the last 10 days and 3 are actively posting every couple of days.
Most people who were active stopped using G+ between July and October of 2013
I have also come across several accounts were they only do reviews with no other activity. The industry I was researching did not have the blatant paid reviews I have seen in the car industry. There were quite a few reviews that appear to be from customers who only used Google to review the business in question. I can understand this in a business where the client has a real relationship with the business. While they were not numerous, accounts with multiple reviews and no other activity where noticeable. These accounts make me wonder why people only review companies but don’t interact in any other way on G+.
My conclusion is that many people only use G+ for the utility of non social Google services. I imagine the owners of those profiles I looked at are more active on FaceBook. But this is purely speculation.
I am continuing my experiment by following a little over a 100 profiles. I plan to follow these accounts for several months to see if businesses use of Google Plus increases as well as use by the general public.
To help my guests and others I have put together the hangout pre-production checklist.
This list may change but currently I am using these items as the basics to doing produced Google Plus Hangouts.
As with many video productions the pre-production for a Google+ hangout can be as important as the actual shoot. To ensure you get the most out of your hangout with me I have come up with several items that will increase the chance of a smooth, professional, and trouble free hangout.
While hangouts can be informal they are also a powerful communication medium. Whether done as a broadcast or narrowcast, hangouts deserve the time and preparations to ensure we get the most out of them.
Google Hangout checklist:
Each participant must have a Google Plus account and a video camera. This is a video chat.
You will need to install the talk extension/plugin (I believe the plugin is no longer needed if you use an up to date Chrome Browser)
Wear headphones or ear buds to avoid audio feedback. – If you don’t use headphones other guests will hear themselves through your speakers. Unless you are using an audio mixer.
Use an external mic if possible. A headset with both a mic and headphones usually works fine.
Use a fast internet connection to avoid lag and improve quality. For a more reliable connection connect your computer to your modem with an Ethernet cable. Try not to use wifi. If you must use wifi use the fastest connection possible. The better the connection the better the audio and video quality.
You will need good front lighting. Avoid shadows on your face. Frame your face and make sure you’re not backlit. If there is too much light behind you try placing a lamp to the left or right side of your face.
Think about your background. Do not have anything that is copyrighted in the video. It is especially easy to overlook background objects.
Try to make fairly small movements on camera. It’s best to avoid making fast movements.
Quiet location. Remove as much background noise as possible. If you have a lot of dogs barking in the background we may be able to find a solution in the practice hangout. However you should let me know this may be an issue. Other industries may have other predictable noise problems
Turn off and silence all phones and other devices that may interrupt the broadcast. This is an important meeting you are communicating with your customers, investors, and media.
You need to use either a laptop or desktop. Mobile devices will not work. (There have been great improvements in mobile video streaming, but it is still best to use a computer)
You will be on camera so please dress appropriately.
Plug in your computer. Especially important for laptops that have not been fully charged
Arrive early. Everyone involved with the Hangout should arrive early to make sure everything is setup and working properly as well as discuss last minute details.
Be prepared to have a practice hangout to test equipment, settings, and discuss the flow of the hangout.
Contribute supporting material – photos and video clips with a copyright release so I can make a compelling video about you and what you do.
(New) The new Hangouts do not support firewire/ieee 1394. I finally had to buy a webcam.
(New) If you unplug and plugin external devises often you will need to set the default microphone when you log into the hangout.
I hope this helps my guests, others looking for hangout information, and my social media friends.
I am wishing you the very best in life,
Google Plus Just added Tombstones
There have been some big changes to Google+ Profiles today. The first one I noticed is the hover card turned into a tombstone. Not only did the look change but the picture is now smaller.
The about layout has also changed. The big news here is that we now have a new tab for recommendations. I read on Dennis Carpenter’s blog that it will help encourage people to make more local recommendations. Showing recommendations on the profile may help in this area, time will tell.
I have heard some people complain that they don’t like that a person’s circles are the first thing that is seen on the about page. So I suspect we will see more people hiding their circles.
My suggestion would be to make it so the cards in the about section can be move to the desired location.
The most noticeable change is the big, huge cover picture, it can be 2120 pixels by 1192 pixels big. Some people like this and it is good for showing off a photo. I am not yet sure how I feel about it.
Google+ improvements and changes For Friday February 8th.
I mentioned yesterday that Google is making a lot of changes to G+ and today is another good example of that. I find the first two changes quite nice. The third change however I have not yet formed an opinion on.
The big news for Google’s Good Friday is the new ability to add links to a website on in a community’s left navigation column. I think this is a supper addition for community owners. It is straight forward but I did add some graphics to illustrate the process.
Events are now showing the local time zone. Again
I also hear that the events has changed back to showing your local time. Google changed this a while back to only show the time of the person who created the event. This should be helpful for many. There were some creative work around. And thankfully they are no longer needed. I have not used this feature today so no graphics.
The Google page icon has been removed so now it is a little more difficult to distinguish pages from personal profiles. I do circle business pages different than I circle personal profiles. This may have been the reason Google did this. It would be interesting to know Google’s reasoning behind the no business page icon decision.
I have heard the reasoning behind this is that business pages can now circle people without needing the other person to circle them first. This is true, I have done it. I can add people to my business page circles without them circling me first. This is a new feature, pages have never been able to be the first to circle in the past. In addition business pages can now comment on posts without being in a person’s circles. There are some third party services that are not working because of this change.
Wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
A quick post to fill everyone in on a couple new features on G+. The first is for community managers. We now have the ability to Remove posts – Remove, report and ban – and Make visible. The new feature is the “Remove, report and ban.” I tend to remove more posts than remove and ban. But it is nice that we can now also report it as spam.
The second new G+ feature is a bandwidth slider in the upper right corner of the hangout screen. I have seen pictures of this but I could not get a screen shot of this. Not sure if it is because I am using a fast connection or it has not been rolled out to all users yet. This will be quite valuable for people using low bandwidth connections. It is suppose to work while you are actually in a hangout.
I also read that G+ is going to offer up to 5 gigs of full size photo backups. That may be interesting. I would like to see how that will work and if it integrates with any of their other services.
Google Plus is constantly changing and improving. If you are still on FaceBook why not hop on over to Google and add me to a circle.
Wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
It has been about two months since G+ came out with communities. I was fortunate to start one of the first communities after they were opened to the general public. I have also started several smaller niche communities. The G+ Dogs community is quite large and presents some unique challenges. My smaller communities have their own problems and opportunities.
The Dogs community has seen an increase in spam lately. But Google’s spam filters are also becoming better at catching these posts before they hit the main stream.
In the last week Google has come out with two new features for communities that make management so much easier. Community moderators can now remove comments and search for members. Having the ability to remove comments give moderators a great deal more control over spam. It used to be you needed to ask a member to edit their post or remove the entire post. I hated doing that. But if a comment was completely unacceptable such as adult in nature I would remove the entire post.
Searching for members will also be useful especially when banning a members who is hiding at the end of the members list.
There has also been and update to the android app for G+ community moderators. The new app adds essential management features to mobile. With the new app you can promote, remove, or ban members from communities. These are the essentials but you can also restore or remove posts that were marked for review. This is a lot of what I do, many posts get marked for review. If not reviewed quickly some people get a little impatient with waiting to see their post on the community. This was very much needed.
One of the problems I have run into is that a community doesn’t always develop the way one would wish. My Dog Blogging and Social Media community did not work as I wanted it to as a private community. I decided to relaunched it as a public community. The problem is not everyone has moved to the new public version. The private version of the community is one of the largest dog blogging communities on G+. The new Dog Blog and social Media community not so big.
Once you start a community the form you choose whether public or private is set and cannot be changed. Choose wisely. I will keep you updated on how easy it is to rebuild membership in the weeks to come.
One community that I am working on that has a lot of potential is the Pet Business community. From what I can tell most of the people in this community do not use Google Plus a whole lot. I believe once they get started, many will find it more valuable than some of the other social networking sites. Especially with the new restrictions FB has placed on accessing your hard earned fans. Just a note if you are requesting to join the Pet Business community you will need to have information in your profile letting me know you are in fact involved in the pet industry.
It is a best practice to have your profile filled out because many people will decide whether to circle you or not based on the hover card. The hover card is the information that pops up when you mouseover or put your cursor on someone’s avatar.
Circles are how people are organized in Google Plus. When you circle someone you are then following them.
One problem communities have created is multiple posts of the same content to one’s personal stream. If you post to a community and also post to your personal stream the same post will be seen twice on you profile page. Many people think this looks spammy.
There have been different strategies for working around the etiquette of pretty posting. But at this time there is no good solution. Some people recommend posting first to the community and then sharing the post publicly to your stream. There are others who recommend sharing first to a business page and then to a community and then to your public stream. I think I may start experimenting with this method. There also more elaborate schemes that may work better but seem a little tacky. If you had a network dedicated to posting content back to communities this may be a good short term solution. I am sure Google will make improvements to sharing in the near future.
When I first started using twitter people actually communicated in 140 characters. They wrote whole ideas that did not need a link to follow. It was headline communication. Now it seems twitter is a massive link broadcasting system. My impression of the current Twitter is that it’s more about sharing (promoting) links than bite size information. Some of my friends who are marketers never respond to me on twitter, but I get a whole lot of links from them.
Most of my business/marketing friends on twitter would think it’s a waste of time and a tweet if you are not marketing while on twitter. Although it can be a very soft sell. You could even call it selling without selling. But it does not have the same feeling of real sharing that it did in the early days.
My experience with twitter is shaping the linking policy on my Google Plus community. I would like people to get the majority of community information from the community not from a linked website. As Google+ becomes more popular it will get noisier.
The way G+ communities are designed makes them less valuable for link broadcasting than they could be. That same design element also means that important community news is difficult to see for the casual user.
One of the benefits and drawbacks to the community design is that posts go by in a stream of information. In fairly active community such as Dogs you may need to go thought 200 or more posts to see what happened that morning. Less now that I have implemented a new policy about picture posting. More on that in a future post. But, having content pushed down does makes it so link-litter gets buried fairly quickly. That is unless the volume of lint-litter increases significantly.
There are two YouTube Communities I belong to. One is well moderated and does not allow outbound links, the other is a free-for-all post as many YouTube video links as you like. The one with a lot of links is basically useless to all but people who want to post a link. Where do I share information and go to talk about YouTube, yes the one without links.
I did an experiment and lightly moderated the outbound links on the Dogs community for a day and a half. I did not allow spam, but I did leave links I would normally remove because of not following guidelines. There was a noticeable increase in link-litter and spam. During this time I also posted about the rules so those leaving links would have a chance to read about the guidelines. And I hoped come back to edit their posts. Not one post was edited to comply with the linking guidelines. I even left a message about the rules on one post and the poster responded with less than flattering remarks. Silly me, I thought they would edit their post.
I tried to be more considerate to those who wanted to post outbound links in the community. However after a day of being blog post friendly, people simply started ignoring the guidelines. I ended the experiment a half day early because I did not like where the lax policies were taking the community.
That little experiment led me to the new policy – no outbound links – except for a few of my own. No links is very easy to understand. I have found that people still have a hard time following even a simple rule. The no outbound link policy is also easy for me to administer.
When I allowed links I felt like I wanted to know where the links went to and what the content was like. I was always judging content which I don’t really want to do. Especially if those people are also in my dog blog community.
One problem with G+ communities is there’s no way to have a sticky post (we can now pin post to the top) at the top of the conversation. This means if people want to read the rules they need to go to the categories in the left side menu. Most people don’t even know there is a left column navigation menu.
You can read more about the community guidelines in the rules and announcements categories on the Dogs Community page on G+
What do you think? Are communities better with outbound links, or do outbound links just lead to link-litter?
Wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
you can add me to one of your circles on G+ at Andrew Ledford
My dog training website is OCDogTraining.com