Much of how users actually engage on the network is the same as on Twitter and Facebook. However, because circles force categorization of people, Google+ is far more easily customizable and allows a greater level of flexibility and dialed privacy. This would, in theory, allow users to enjoy the network with more people in more relevant ways. For example, you could share content specific to your professional network with people in that circle, while sharing the pictures of your kids to a more private circle, all from the same platform.
Another feature that seems to be growing in popularity with users, marketers and brands alike is the Google+ Hangout. Hangouts can be public or invite-only and allow users to connect with one another with voice and video without needing to download any software. Google has also added communities, which appear to mirror Facebook's groups, giving additional functionality and interaction opportunity to the site.
Find and befriend tastemakers:
It is easy to find key influencers on G+. It's still a smallish community where it may be easier to get the attention of and build relationships with influencers in your space. Tread lightly though; don't spam and always be respectful.
What success looks like
Though many companies initially delayed their efforts on Google+, there are many that stand out as shining examples, and they have the +1s to prove it. Here are a few of our favorites:
MATLAB: A company that helps coding professionals better use their respective languages, MATLAB continuously provides its community with educational tools. They share content from their six blogs and numerous webinar series, offering an official certification program and general advocacy to grow the coding profession. Additionally, they reach out to audiences speaking both English and Japanese.
RedBull: The varied content that RedBull shares on Google+ is a great example of how to think horizontally about your brand and what it means to engage with consumers. In every post, the brand appeals to interests that exemplify what it means to be a part of the RedBull community and a RedBull drinker. You will not see posts about the product itself, its attributes, or even direct value propositions. What you will find is exciting images of extreme sports stars, video content about risk-taking, and even engaging music videos.
Asos: Asos does a great job of highlighting highly-engaging and interesting content on its page. The best part? They are present and accounted for in the comments. While many comments on Google+ can be spammy and add little value, the brand clearly monitors the page and reads through the replies to help grow their community. This gives the user a reason to actually reach out and converse with the brand and follow them.
King Arthur Flour: It's the little flour company that could. A once small and regional flour company has been able to blossom on the web. One of the tactics they're using and seeing impressive success with is engaging on Google+. Sharing lots of recipes and using delicious pictures gets a lot of people talking. You'll notice that they put a lot of effort behind their yummy content!
Etiquette tips and guidelines
Inexperience doesn't have to be a drawback when you're building your circles. If you keep your conduct classy, you'll have no trouble earning the respect of your audience. These tips will get you started.
Add value: Create good stuff. While trite, it is true. Giving people something to get excited about and a reason to want to follow you is the best way to grow your community. Google+ allows you to target who gets to see your content if you wish, so use that tool to your advantage and get creative. Can you create a special circle just for your top influencers and advocates? You betcha! The sky's the limit!
Engage: If you're putting out quality content and giving people a reason and opportunity to engage with you, you must be there to back-up that conversation. Be there to get involved, address questions, and add to the conversation.
Respond: If a follower takes the time out of their day to ask a question, come to you for help, or even just share something with your brand, it is simply the right thing to do to engage and respond to them. Don't ever leave them hanging. The only thing worse than not being present in a conversation is being around and ignoring half of it.
Frequency and scheduling: As with other platforms, timing is important with your posts on Google+. It's a little easier here because of the built-in filtering that circles offer, but like other networks, you'll need to figure out the optimal times and frequency for posting to your Google+ page. Currently, there is no way to pre-scheduled posts in Google+, except through a Chrome extension called Do Share or third-party tools such as Sprout Social or Buffer. Do beware, though, that not all third-party tools allow for formatting.