Google+ is a One Way Street, is Self-Promotion the Only Way Out?

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In the last few days I wasn’t able to contribute much on social media. I was sick the week before so I had lots of work to do. Nonetheless I incited a small debate on Google+. As I had no time to “engage” on Google+ I noticed that nobody would share my latest post over there or engage with my blog here in a any other meaningful way.

On Twitter some people shared my latest post despite my absence.

So I concluded that there is something wrong with the way Google+ engagement seems to work only in one direction. Read my original message concerning this issue, I added some text-decoration for the sake of readability:

Google+ is a One Way Street

“I noticed that Google+ engagement onsite [on Google+] is pretty impressive. People will +, re-share and comment all the time. That’s great. I almost moved here from Twitter. There is one crucial difference though. When I don’t share my post on Twitter someone else will do. So the engagement moves both ways, from my site to Twitter and from Twitter to my site.

Google+ is just a one way street though. I have to share my articles each time or nobody will even notice them on Google+.

Once I share them here [on Google+] I get also +1 engagement on my blog but without it doesn’t work. There is no overlap of audiences. People who follow me on Google+ do not read my blog unless I share my postings.

That’s bad. I’m not here to create “great content” for Google. I’m here to get more readers for myself not Google. I may reconsider my Google+ usage.”

I posted this and started doing some real work I get paid for ideally. Then a few hours later while already too tired to spend even more time looking at the screen I noticed that a rare debate ensued. 7 insightful comments were already there. The next day I replied to a few them and even more suggestions arrived.

My buddy Dan from Dejan SEO argued, and nobody really disagreed, that you need to share your postings all the time. In his words it’s basically the way it is and there is no other choice in case you want to get people back to your blog. Constant self-promotion is the only way out when it comes to getting engagement from Google+ users it seems.

In case you have read more than a few of my articles you probably know that SEO 2.0 is not about self-promotion. It’s about organically growing your audience and making this audience “do the work for you”. In its simplest terms the SEO 2.0 strategy is this: rock the Web and the popularity will follow. You can of course help other people helping you by providing material and opportunities but basically they love to share your stuff.

On social media you know that a site works properly when the organic sharing strategy can be applied.

You can’t push your message all the time. You need an audience, your 1000 true fans or even just a bunch of them to get the ball rolling. You may probably think that it’s just wishful thinking but that’s how really successful sites work. They do not promote them myself all the time. Most of the promotion gets done by voluntary supporters and brand evangelists.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to make it work. Nowadays I’m just an SEO blogger among hundreds. Unlike in the early days of this blog when I managed to become larger than life in some ways. So I’m not Seth Godin. I haven’t written a book yet. You can’t see me in late night shows either.
So I only cook with water as the Germans say. Still the non self-promotional social media usage works for me. It works for example on Twitter as noted above or on Inbound.org.

I never submit my own postings to Inbound. Other people do.

I never contact people to vote my posts up, in most cases I do not even share the Inbound URL on other social media to get votes. I don’t own an agency where I can send a message to all my employees. It’s just the people who are on Inbound who vote. Yet most of my postings with the exception of really quick and dirty write-ups end up on the frontpage.

Of course in Dan’s opinion Inbound is a special case as you get karma points etc. but on Twitter and Google+ you can even directly impact search rankings. So there is always an additional incentive to engage. What do you think, is self-promotion the only way to go on Google+? Or does the site still not work properly, unlike other social sites?

Google+ may not be a ghost town but it may be full of your peers, other early adopters and people who do not listen but speak all the time themselves instead. Maybe the real audience hasn’t arrived on Google+ yet. So is creating content for this special group of people, your peers, the way to go like Lyndon NA suggests or do you have to self-promote to get any traction at all on Google+?

Personally I’m not a big fan of creating content for Google,

neither in my site nor on other Google services. “Content is king” because Google needs it to monetize it. It’s their business model not mine, unless I’d sell my content in the future in a membership community for example. It’s not my job to create content for Google for free all the time in case there is no direct benefit for me.

As I don’t care for Google rankings anymore on this blog the promise of higher authority in search results alone will not suffice if there is no way to make the Google+ engagement work both ways without adding even more effort.

I won’t self-promote this post on Google+ either. Let’s see if anybody notices it all over the weekend.

* Creative Commons image by James Jordan