For this post I'll assume that you're familiar with the idea of creating an opt-in notification circle on Google Plus and the advantages that follow. I'll be sharing tips on what I think is the best way for creating an opt-in circle for your blog posts (or anything else) on Google Plus.
Best ways to create a Google Plus Opt-In Notification Circle
I've recently created several notification circles on Google Plus and have learned quite a lot from the process. First time I created a notification circle on Google+ the whole thing was very new to me, and therefore I did things which looking back could have been done a lot better. Hopefully after reading this post, you'll be able to avoid my mistakes and create the perfect opt-in circle first time around.
Practical Tips and Steps
First thing you must understand is that the average Google+ user hasn't heard about opt-in circles and doesn't know anything about them. So before going into details about how to subscribe, you should start by explaining about the basic concept of the opt-in circle. Don't make the explanation to long, but do give your audience enough information about your plans. So here are the steps I'd recommend:
1. Briefly explain about what you're doing:
“Hello friends! I'm creating a blog notification circle here on Google Plus! The idea is that each time I share a new post on my blog, I'll send out a notification to this circle letting them know about the post.”
As an initiative for subscribing, a cool thing you could do (but really don't need to if you have great content) is promise to share exclusive giveaways or posts with that circle alone, or at least before your share them with the rest of the world.
3. Call to Action – Tell people how to subscribe (in a simple way!)
“If you'd like to be included in the Blog Notification Circle and be the first to know about new posts & tips – simply +1 this post and you're in!”. Don't forget to mention that people can opt out of the circle at any time. An alternative for this is sharing the post and then quickly adding a comment on to that post saying: “+1 this comment to be included in the notification circle!” and then disable new comments on the post.
4. Create a Dedicated Image.
This worked great for me in my last notification circle, so I'd highly recommend using an eye catching design that clearly describes your goals and call to action.
4. Disable reshares and comments on the post!
Disabling reshares and comments on the post leaves only one option – +1'ning the post (is that English?!). Keeping the subscription process simple makes it easier for people to understand what they need to do in order to subscribe. When comparing this to a mailing list signup form on a website, I always find it easier when I'm asked to only fill in my Email Address and hit subscribe (rather than name, family name and so on).
5. Add all subscribers to your Opt-In Circle (Yep, this step is important…)
Great! So you've followed the above steps and people have asked to join your notification circle? Now it's it's time to add them to the circle! Head over to “activity on this post” either by hovering over the profile thumbnails at the bottom right of the post, or by going to the dropdown menu in the top right corner and selecting “activity on this post”. Next, hover over the names of people who've +1'd the post and add them to your “Notification Circle”.
6. Send out your first post!
When you send out the post make sure to tick the “also send email to” box, and you're all set. If you don't do this, you missed the whole point and your subscribers won't be notified about new posts.
Important things you should note
1. Even though it's rare – it's possible that even if you've done everything right, you won't see the “Also send emails to …” checkbox. If this happens it's probably because most people who've asked to opt in aren't following you, and in that case Google+ will not allow you to send emails, and this is done to prevent spammer from bombarding your email with spam messages.
The solution for this is the following – determine which people in the circle are not following you and then do one of the following things:
- Reach out to the non followers in order to explain the situation and ask them to follow you.
- Unfortunate, but remove the non-followers from your notification circle. After doing that you might need to create a new notification circle in order to refresh the backend system.
2. I'm repeating this because it's important – let people know that they can opt out at any time. It's also a good idea to occasionally send out a message to your notification circle alone just to ask and make sure they still want to be included.
Things you shouldn't do
1. A mistake I did the first time I created an opt-in circle was writing about the opt-in circle at the very end of the post and leaving the post open for comments and +1's. What happened was that many people left comments related to the post's content and it was difficult to keep track of people who've asked subscribe to the notification circle. So don't mixed up too many things in one post, if you keep it simple and to the point life will be easier for everyone.
2. Don't forget to disable reshares on the post. If you leave reshares open and someone shares your post, people will probably start to +1 the reshared post. If this happens you won't get any indication about that engagement and therefore lose out on all those people. Comments should be disabled mainly to keep the post tidy and help the call to action button (+1) to stand out more.
3. Don't send out email notifications if the post is not related to your original opt in circles purposes! If you do this, people will simply mute you and will stop receiving notifications from you. And if you really go too far with this, people will probably even report your profile. Remember, you're sending out a notification and an email, so think twice before you hit share.
Google+ notification circles are great in so many ways and can easily become a part of your marketing tools. When writing your opt-in post remember to keep things clear and offer a simple way for people to subscribe to your circle. Think twice before you share a post with your notification circles and never send spam. Remind people of the option to opt-out and most important – share great content. If you do – people will never even think about opting out.