How to Gain More Followers With Google Plus Collections

Why everyone needs to be using collections on Google Plus

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How to Get More Followers on Social Media. Martin Barraud / OJO Images
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Google Plus may not have as many active users as Facebook and Twitter but thanks to a design refresh and a several new features, Google's own social network has quickly become a product to watch.

One of the biggest ways in which the new Google Plus has reinvigorated itself has been with the launch of Collections, a new feature which has proven to be one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to increase followers, build a brand, and connect with other individuals with similar interests.

Here's everything you need to know and how to get started.

What is Google Plus?

Google Plus is a social network that's not too dissimilar from its rivals, Facebook and Twitter. On Google Plus, users can create a personal profile, publish written or multimedia posts, and follow other accounts to receive select content on their main home feed. Unlike other social networks, Google Plus users don't need to create an entirely new account to access it as the network incorporates the same accounts that are used for logging into other Google services such as Gmail and YouTube.

When Google Plus launched in 2011, many users were confused by its Circles feature which was essentially a way to organize connections and post content to select target audiences instead of a public post that could be seen by everyone. Over time the focus on Circles has diminished significantly and now the network simply encourages users to follow other users, like on Twitter or Instagram, and post publically.

As a result of these changes, many people and companies who had abandoned Google Plus due to its initial confusing nature have begun to return and, while it still can't boast the same user numbers as Facebook, it is gradually becoming a powerful alternate option for connecting with an audience and building a following.

  • Google Plus is a popular social network like Facebook and Twitter
  • Users can join Google Plus with their current Gmail and Youtube accounts
  • Google Plus is a lot more user-friendly now than when it first launched

What Are Google Plus Collections?

Google Plus Collections work in much the same way as tags and categories do on all of the major blogging platforms and are very similar to Boards on Pinterest. They are a simple way for users to organize their own content by topic on the Google Plus social network. New posts that have been assigned a Collection will appear on the author's Google Plus profile page at the top of their stream and also within the chosen Collection's individual page which lies within the user profile.

When a Google Plus user follows another user's main profile, they subscribe to all of their public posts and posts they assign to all of their Collections. As an alternative, users can choose to follow a Collection only. This will subscribe them to posts that are only added to that specific Collection.

For example: Tom could have three Collections for posts on his Google Plus profile. One could be for posts about Gardening while the other two could cover posts relating to Travel and Star Wars.

Following Tom's profile would result in all of his posts on Gardening, Travel, and Star Wars showing up on your home feed. Choosing not to follow his main profile though and instead just follow his Star Wars Collection would only show you his Star Wars-related content. This is great if you have no interest in Gardening or Travel but want to stay up-to-date on the latest Star Wars news. Pretty convenient.

  • Google Plus Collections are similar to Pinterest Boards
  • Collections appear on user profiles and have their own unique website address
  • Users can follow a Collection without following its owner

Why Google Plus Collections Work

Collections are significantly more attractive to users than a full Google Plus profile as they guarantee posts relating to one specific topic.

A user may not follow their favorite author on Google Plus due to the variety of different topics they post about but they might follow one or two of the author's Collections which only contain posts relating to topics that interest them. Google Plus Collections often have much larger follower numbers than user profiles and this is one of the reasons why.

The other reason Collections are so popular is due to how heavily promoted they are within the Google Plus Network. Google Plus actively promotes users' Collections for free both from within special promotional widgets on the main Home feed and also on the special Collections page prominently linked to on the main navigation menu.

Posting content in Google Plus Collections could also have an effect on SEO. Publishing a link to a webpage on Google Plus has already been confirmed to be one of the fastest ways to get it registered within the massive Google search engine database but placing the post with the link within a Google Plus Collection could also help Google categorize the content correctly.

For example: Linking to an article called "5 Best Drink Recipes" within a Google Plus Collection named "Organic Food" could help the article rank for organic drink recipes instead of competing against all generic drink recipes online.

Users can still choose to avoid posting in Collections if they want to but by not using this free and easy-to-use feature, they're reducing the number of people who could potentially see their content significantly.

  • More people follow Collections than user profiles
  • Google Plus promoted Collections for free
  • Adding posts to a Collection can improve SEO

Creating a Google Plus Collection

Making a Collection on Google Plus is very straight forward and only takes around a minute. There doesn't appear to be a limit on how many Collections a user can make.

  1. After logging into Google Plus at http://www.plus.google.com, click on the Collections link in the main menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
  2. Google Plus should now be showing you all of their Featured Collections created by other users. There will be three links in the upper-middle of the screen for Featured (where you are now), Following (which lists all of the Collections made by other users that you're following), and Yours. Click on Yours.
  3. On this next page, you should now see a white box with a + symbol and the text Create a collection. Click on this.
  4. You will now be asked to enter a name for your Collection. This can be anything and like all of the following settings, can be changed at any time in the future.
  5. The Collection's privacy should be set to Public by default. This will make it discoverable by other users and will also let anyone view your posts, even if they don't follow you or the Collection.
  6. Don't forget to fill in the description field. This is an effective way to let other users know what the Collection is about and will also help Google recommend it to other people on Google Plus. Once this is done, click Create.
  7. On the next panel, you'll be given the option to choose a default cover image provided by Google Plus. You can also upload one of your own images to use if you like. This image will show on all visualizations of this Collection on Google Plus.
  1. Choose a color. Any color is fine though it's a good idea to choose a different color for each Collection you create to help each one stand out on your profile page.
  2. Under the color settings will be the text "People that have you in circles automatically follow this Collection" and a switch. It's recommended to keep this enabled so all of your existing followers will see your posts in this Collection. Disabling this means that you'll essentially be starting from square one and will need to ask your followers to follow the board.
  3. Once all your settings are locked in, click on Save in the upper right corner of the panel.
  4. Clicking Save will take you to the new Collection. You're done!

Optimizing a Collection

Just like how it's important to optimize a website for search engines, it's also necessary to make a Google Plus Collection as discoverable and relevant as possible. Google Plus dynamically recommends Collections to other users based on their interests so it's important to specify the topic of a Collection in both its title and description with the proper target keywords. A Collection called "Vacation 2016" won't get much exposure due to its ambiguous title but a Collection named "China Travel Tips" will because it would be shown to targeted users who are interested in China, Travel or a combination of the two.

The description should likewise be optimized with related keywords with a good example of the China Travel Tips Collection description being something like, "Practical and interesting tips and news about travelling in China and Asia." Using the word "Asia" will help get the Collection shown to a broader userbase interested in general Asia travel while using "traveling" instead of repeating "travel" from the title still targets the same audience but doesn't look like the Collection owner is trying to game the system by repeating the same keywords over and over again.

Something else to keep in mind is post frequency. Active Collections tend to get promoted more on Google Plus than those with only a few posts so it's incredibly important to post into Collections both consistently and frequently. A new post every two to three hours is a good rate to post at. This can be done manually or via an automated system.

  • It's important to add target keywords in a Collection's title and description
  • Don't repeat the same keywords
  • Post to Google Plus Collections several times a day on a regular basis

How to Use Google Plus Collections

Google Plus Collections are a fantastic way to easily and quickly build an audience who can be targeted later on for promoting products, sharing affiliate links with, or simply building a brand. Like with other social networks, it's not necessary to focus on posting about your own (or your company's) content 100% of the time. Indeed, unless you happen to have produced thousands of online articles or videos, this would be hard to do anyway. Users tend to initially follow Collections due to an interest in an overall topic and will connect with the user much later. It's completely fine, and recommended, to curate content from a variety of sources relating to your Collection's topics and then, after the Collection has over one or two thousand followers (which should only take one to two months using the example workflow shown below), begin posting about your own products or services.

  • Don't just post about your own content
  • Begin marketing after a Collection has over 1,000 followers

What Content Works Best in Google Plus Connections?

Articles, reviews, and lists get a fair amount of likes (or +1s) on Google Plus but by far the most effective content to post is internet memes, gifs, and funny images relating to the Collection topic. While these amusing images are generally very popular with followers, they mostly just keep user activity up and don't provide much value. It's important not to go overboard with memes and gifs and to think of them as a reward for the follower rather than an overall strategy.

A good ratio to use is one meme or gif for every five articles.

  • Internet memes, funny images, and gifs do well on Google Plus
  • Post one meme or funny image for every five articles

What Not to Do

Google Plus is mostly moderated by algorithms instead of humans and unfortunately this means that the system can be overly protective of what sort of content is posted on the network and how it's shared. It's very common for users to have their accounts marked as being a spammer and the cause can be very ambiguous due to Google's decision not to actually share details on each support case (even with those involved). Here are the two biggest things that can cause trouble:

Link shorteners. In general, Google Plus associates shortened links with spam even if they forward to an approved website. Full links to product pages on Amazon.com are fine for example but using the company's amzn.to shortened URLs on Google Plus can result in an entire Collection being marked as spam and all of its posts being hidden from followers' home feeds.

Sharing to Communities. Even though sharing one of your own posts to a Community to promote it is technically allowed, Google Plus has been known to mark users as spammers if they do it too often. Another problem with sharing posts to Communities is that a lot of Community admins prefer users to create original/unique posts instead so they will often delete a shared post or even mark it as spam (even if it technically isn't). As tempting as sharing can be, it's better not to use that functionality. Besides, if a Collection is active enough, Google Plus will promote it for you.

  • Google Plus is known to incorrectly label users as spammers
  • Don't use shortened links
  • Don't share posts to Google Plus Communities

Sample G+ Collection Work Flow

To maintain a consistent flow of posts in a Google Plus Collection, which will help get it and its posts promoted for free in the Google Plus social network, it's highly recommended to sign up for a post scheduling tool. One of the best online scheduling tools is SocialPilot which is one of the few services that supports Google Plus Collections and also offers a free option that's provides a solid user experience. Note when using SocialPilot that each Collection will count as one social media account. Once you have your scheduler set up, try this work flow to get started.

  1. Open SocialPilot (or other similar tool) in a web browser tab.
  2. Open another tab in the browser and go to Bing News. Bing News is generally better than Google News for this as it allows users to sort news by relevancy and date.
  3. Do a search for your Collection's keyword. For example, if your Collection is about the Nintendo Switch, simply search for "Nintendo Switch".
  4. Browse through the results. Ignore the results that lack a thumbnail image as these stories won't show an image when shared on Google Plus. Choose around 10 news stories that capture your eye and open them in new tabs by right-clicking on the links and choosing "Open in new tab".
  5. One-by-one, copy each news story's title and web URL into the post composer in your scheduler tab and schedule the posts. Feel free to write your own text in place of an article's title.
  6. Make sure to select the correct Collection in the post composer.
  7. The post will then auto-publish at the corresponding time chosen in your account settings.
  8. Schedule enough posts for a day or even a week. Note that if you're scheduling posts a week in advance, they will be a week old when they publish so it's best to schedule articles or features over news stories in this case.
  9. Memes, gifs, and other images can also be scheduled in a similar fashion.
  10. Repeat with other Collections making sure that each Collection's publish times don't overlap. Ideally, a Google Plus account shouldn't be posting any more than once every half hour to an hour. Especially if posts are being scheduled around the clock.

When used properly and consistently, Google Plus Collections can be one of the easiest ways to gain followers fast and, when using the method shown above, also requires very little time and effort before seeing results. Good luck!