5 Ways To Increase Your Google Plus Following

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One of the oldest companies on the web has become the proud (some say "gushing") parent of one of the youngest social networks out there.
Google has been around since 1996, a few years after the web itself was born, and it's nearly impossible to imagine a web without it now. The same can't be said of Google+. Not yet, anyway.
Ridiculed as "Facebook for nerds," Google+ has had a rough start since its debut just over one year ago, even with the power of its ferocious mama bear behind it. It does have 150 million active users and the world's biggest ad engine promoting it, so it can't be ignored.

However, no one is quite sure if it is a Facebook Killer or another Orkut. Unless you are from Brazil, where it is still popular, Orkut looks like nothing more than a spellcheck hiccup. Actually, it was Google's first attempt at a social network way back in 2004.
Maybe the world wasn't ready.
If you are among the (relatively) few, the proud, the Google+ for business enthusiasts, you are probably looking at a screen full of empty circles and wondering how to make this tool pay off. You need followers and followers need you. If you were one of the early "invite-only" users, you got a fistful of industry bigwigs and Google employees to follow.

Hopefully, some of them followed you back. If not, you probably did the same thing to grow followers as you did with Facebook and Twitter - finding the influencers and replying to their posts. Perhaps you even tried to do a contest and were shocked to learn that it's against the rules.

Here are the next five steps to becoming a ring leader in the world of Circles.

Step 1 - Make It Pop
If you don't have a Brand page, make it now. Make it as attractive and professional as your website with photos, videos, maps and quirky quotes. Keep "mobile first" design in mind, because Google+ works even better on the small screens and mobile devices will outpace desktop access to the web within two years.

Step 2 - Hangout With Your Audience

These video chat rooms have possibly become the most popular feature of the network and are beginning to replace teleconferencing. Use it for Q&A's, press releases, mini- conferences or even paid seminars. These types of events position you as someone to be followed and recommended.

Step 3 - Understand (and use) The Strategic +1
It can be used like a Facebook Like, but the +1 in a Google+ conversation alerts the individual that you agree or find the comment relevant. Nothing is as flattering as outright flattery, so choose the people you want to pay attention to you, then reach out and + someone.

Step 4 - Utilise Extended Circles
These can act like secondary connections on LinkedIn, in that you don't know them, but the people you know, know them. When you have something that you are proud of and will really stand out, share it with the larger world and you will draw more influencers into your Circles.
Caution: Use this sparingly. Shouting out too frequently is somewhat comparable typing in ALL CAPS.

Step 5- Connect, Direct...
If you're fortunate enough to be working for a big brand, investigate the opportunity of Google+ Direct Connect. Direct connect provides further connectivity between web pages and Google Plus pages. If you are now wondering if all this effort is worth it, here are 20 reasons to dig in. One of the best is "data liberation." Google gives you the option to walk away with your data anytime.

Surprisingly "delete" apparently really does mean "delete."
Whether or not your target market currently utilises Google+ or not, there's no harm in getting started with these pointers. If anything, it's complementary to your SEO efforts and (hopefully) an investment in the future.

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