One of the lesser known but major benefits of Google Plus is that you can track the social engagement with any web article, whether it is your own blog post or a competitor's article.
Big deal, you may say, as you can typically see on how many times an article has been tweeted or how many plus ones it has received (as you can at the top of this article). However, the number of shares is a very crude metric. To get a more in-depth picture of engagement on your own content you may use Google Social Analytics or specific software to track interaction on say Twitter.
With Google Plus it is very easy to monitor engagement with your own content or with other content such as:
- who shares it
- who reshares their share
- who gives it a plus one
- who comments
- who the key influencers are
How to track social engagement on Google Plus
Tracking social engagement on Google Plus is very straightforward. Let me demonstrate with an example.
In Google Plus you can do this easily by simply typing the url of the article into the G+ search box. This will show you every Google Plus post with this link. This will return you a page along the lines below.
Note: the search will not find shortened links. So if someone shares with a shortened link, as they often do on Twitter, you will need to search again for the shortened link. One benefit of Google Plus though is there is no character restriction so there is less need to use shortened urls. You can also revert to a standard keyword search if you want to find more posts that don't reference the url.
In this case my search has returned over 50 Google Plus public posts. I can now browse these posts to see who is sharing and quickly scan to see whose posts are generating a lot of plus ones and comments.
When I find a post I am interested in, for example because it has a lot of plus ones, I can click on the people images in the bottom right of the post. This will show me all the activity on the post, as shown here on the right. I can see who has commented, who has reshared and who has just given the post a plus one.
If I find a post with a lot of comments I can also click show comments and see what people are saying and discussing. I can then engage in the discussion by commenting myself. Though if the post was made in a community of which I am not a member I will need to join that community.
7 benefits of tracking social engagement
Tracking social engagement on Google Plus will take a little longer than just looking at the number of shares a blog post receives. However, the benefits are:
1. You can get a very good picture of who is sharing and resharing content on Google Plus.
2. You can see who the key influencers are by the level of engagement with their post.
If you search for the url of one of my previous articles on Google Plus and SEO you will find the following post by Charise Stranberg. Charise's post received 473 plus ones, was shared 204 times and generated 79 comments. Charise is clearly a key influencer in this area.
3. You can circle and follow people who are key influencers and people who actively engage.
4. You can find the Google communities where the content is actively shared and discussed.
5. You can begin to see and understand key relationships and networks.
6. You can see the discussions taking place around the content you are interested in.
7. You can engage with others in discussing the post or article.
These benefits are potentially very valuable and can help you improve your own social engagement strategy.