Google+ is a Viral Content Engine

It hit me like a freight train yesterday.  I started this blog about library science and technology trends all of three weeks ago.  I was so giddy that I was getting like 10-20 hits a day on such totally wonky subject matter.  And then Google+ came along. 

Yesterday, this blog got nearly 500 hits, and spiked so dramatically that I almost lost my mind from the endorphin rush.  The reason why is easy to see if you look at the stats.

Google+ provided 243 referrals to this site, and Facebook only 30, Twitter only 13.  You can also see that the topic of the highest trending articles were about the Google Terms of Service Agreement posts that I have been hammering into the ground.  That’s an incredibly dorky topic, but it was so important to the people using the service that they kept pushing it out to more and more friends.  It’s orders of magnitude different.

And I’m not the only one this has been happening to, and it’s not just articles about Google+.  I added a list of comic book artists and children’s book illustrators who say that their sites are seeing the same incredible spikes in traffic as well.  It’s happening to all of us, all at once.

This is clearly how the service was meant to work.  Google is a company built on connecting people to content.  Until now it has been a fairly anonymous process using algorithms and science to deliver you web content. But Google+ is about bringing the people into the content, because people’s social connections are far more valuable than algorithms.  Curiosity and a culture of sharing information is what we’re creating together here. 

But look at Facebook.  Facebook has link sharing as well. So does Twitter, and there is nowhere near the same kind of traffic.  Why does Google+ work so much better?  Several factors really. 

Size and Imagery

Google knows that people like to read comfortably and so they have given us a great big window and a good sized font to read.  They have also included fairly large photo spaces as well.  This makes reading this links more attractive in general.

Openness

Google+ is more open than Facebook.  Facebook requires a mutual handshake between people getting involved in the service, and so it is more insular and more selective.  Much like Twitter, Google+ allows anyone to follow you and you can set the permissions on your material to be as locked down as you wish.  This increases readership tremendously and doesn’t limit you to only 140 characters. 

Encourages Resharing

Facebook allows you to reshare a post, but it strips it of any contextual meaning from the original author.  Google+ on the other hand retains that original context and allows the referrer to add anything else on top of it.  This recontextualizes the post for everyone else down the line for each subsequent sharer.  These personalized referrals increase the likelihood that people will follow a link.  Also, because circles are more open, there is more likelihood that your content will keep going.

So, for those of you treating Google+ like Facebook, DON’T!  You can do so much more with it you have no idea.  Don’t be afraid to begin following people, even famous people, or just people you admire within a field.  It will totally open up your world, and introduce your world to so many more people.  It will spread your original content far and wide, and if you hit the right note it will flow out into a flood like you have never seen before. 

Enjoy!

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2 comments on “Google+ is a Viral Content Engine

  1. David says:

    While I really like Google + so far, more than Twitter and Facebook (yeah, I said it, and I’m a long time FB user), I don’t know if you can deduce all of that just from one of your posts going viral.
    The same thing can happen through Twitter and FB too.
    Actually my most popular post ever on my blog had 2,000 hits in two days, pretty much all of them coming from Facebook.
    Second most popular post? 500 hits coming from Twitter.

    Visits from G+ so far? 3 hits.

    What I mean, is that virality is great, but also quite random and can come from pretty much anywhere (however it’s true that I arrived here from G+, so who knows, maybe you’ve found your magic key to lot of traffic thanks to it. Congrats. 🙂

  2. Good to know. Thanks for sharing. I am trying to get my art out there with Google+, and so far so good. 🙂

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