(Part 1 of 3 ‘Psychology of Google+’ articles: Engaging, Relating and Connecting.)

Do you engage, or are you a member of the audience? And the cheeky concept of getting ‘shareshagged’…

If no one +1s, comments, shares one’s content then Google+ may well seem a very quiet and lonely place. Google+ is, however, a place full of engagers. Seeing as myself and many other people regularly publish circles with people who are ‘engagers’ on Google+, I thought it may be worth considering what the word means…

What is engagement?

If we look at the stem ‘engage’ we find one pertinent definition as:
Establish a meaningful contact or connection with
e.g. the teams needed to engage with people in the community

Why engage?

Engagement shifts us from a passive recipient to information into a position of participant.
If you would rather sit back and just be an audience member then that is, of course, fine.
But if you want to influence the moods/opinions/decisions of others, then engagement will play a role.

How do we engage?

There are several ways to engage on Google+, including:

  • +1
  • Comment
  • Share
  • Hangouts
  • Putting people into circles, and getting circled
  • Following links back to their website, YouTube etc.

What does this look like?

Quite simply, the psychological process of engagement would look something like this…

  1. Post arrives in your stream, you find it on a page, you receive a notification/email
  2. You experience a response, either based on information in the present i.e. the post itself is compelling, or based on the historic relationship to the person in the past
  3. You see the existing level of +1s, comments and shares
  4. You notice the people’s profile pictures who have already engagement – this creates social reinforcement
  5. You experience the thought to +1/comment/share the post.
  6. The thought forms a perception of what action will be taken next*
  7. The action, or string of actions, is then taken i.e. +1/comment/share etc

*There are many reasons for the perceptions developed in the decision process, one of which is context.

Who is engaging with you?

There are no rules on Google+ (except the standards you would expect in real life) yet through the culture/sub-cultures themselves there will emerge informal ‘ways of doing things.’

For me, I have recently been favouring people who share (as well as +1/comment) when considering engagement as I believe sharing is integral to the concept of a network. And here is one of the reasons people need to reinforce the connections through sharing: people will move on.

This is something that +Amanda Blain really got me thinking about.

You may have seen this yourself. There may well be a core group of people with whom you interact, absolutely, but there is are transient engagers who stay for a day/week/month but then move to another part of Google+. As such, you will find new people who relate to your content right now – these are your current engagers. If you don’t ‘reward’ these people by putting them in circles then you may find your engagement level drops off, and of course replying to comments on your own threads really matters as well.

Here are a couple of the scenarios to consider on Google+:

Scenario A

  • Build your network up to e.g. 1-10,000 people (even if it takes 5 years!)
  • Engage as much as you can with people to whom you want to relate longer term. There is more benefit both ways to you being connected to people with whom you relate than people who have high numbers alone
  • Then, naturally some of your content will probably appeal to a certain number of people and be shared each time.

But here is another stranger scenario…

Scenario B

  • You have just a few hundred people follow you (or even less).
  • You share everything (i.e. curate) from the 10 people to whom YOUR content with relate to THEIR audience
  • You +theirname when you have a key bit of information e.g. a content rich post, and they will then be notified (even if they don’t circle you)
  • This information then might become ‘sponsored’ into their network as they want to thank you for your endless sharing.
  • Giving your post a title e.g. “This is awesome/Read this now”, gets more onward shares; sometimes just as a broadcast

Your messages with relatable content are shared to their network then fly…
(This relate to principle #2 in this series of articles).

Once this happens a few times, something else can occur on Google+: a post can hit What’s Hot list where it can become viral. These are ‘out of network shares’ i.e. from people to whom you are not directly connected.

Scenarios C, D, E etc – every possibility is available! Engagement is the key factor that makes the biggest difference. It is not a numbers game; it is much more about engagement and relationships.

Can you share too much?

(the cheeky bit…)

As a very playful comment on this, we coined the word ‘shareshagged’ to describe when someone runs through all of your posts and shares them. An oddly pleasant experience! As such, we then coined the world ‘shareshagged redemption’ to describe forgiving people of such an act.

As you can see, both words have now made it into the Urban Dictionary.

If you share everything all the time, then you will certainly get noticed! But for it to have the most affect you ideally want people in your network to whom you are doing a services by sharing that content. If people +1, comment and share on your content then you know people also relate to it i.e. the network you are building and the content you are sharing are aligned.

So, maybe sharing everything is too much all the time, but the principle of sharing is caring stands firm.


Some people in the wider world still believe Google+ is not “going to happen” because they don’t understand Google+ is Google, but if you can help a few people join from existing networks (Facebook and Twitter) then you will be enabling your own historic relationships to form the basis to this next wave. And it will make your life a lot easier when it comes to having trusted/reliable engagers. All in all, engagement is the key to creating the Google+ you want to it to be.
I appreciate all of the engagement from so many supportive people and I hope we have many years of commoogling yet to come!