Ever since June 8, 2015, when I read Kristi Hines’ post on How to Use Google+ Collections for Business, I was intrigued because I’d never used Google+ Collections before.

So I went to the Social Media Examiner Society forums and asked the helpful folks there why they thought it might be important to spend all the time and effort creating a Google+ Collection. At that time, I was thinking, “Oh no! One more place to share content on.”

Thanks to the great folks on the forums, I got an answer that satisfied my curiosity. So I went about the process of creating my first Google+ Collection on my Google Business Page and started posting to it occasionally. This was in June 2015.

In the two months since I started my Google+ Collection, I’ve gained over 3000 followers on that collection and the views on my Google+ Business Page have increased to over 900,000, with no advertising spend at all.

SMM 15.9.15
Today, I get an average of 100+ new followers a day on my Google+ Collection, with only a few minutes spent on posting new content every day.

The ability to build a following for free, with very little time and effort, reminds me a lot of the early days of Facebook pages, when it was easy to build a large number of fans with no advertising spend.

In my journey from former skeptic to current Google+ Collection convert, here are some of the things I have learned about building a Collection that will get you thousands of followers and views.

1. Create a collection that people will love

Choose an interesting or popular topic. My collection on Social Media Marketing is not as creative as some others out there, but it’s a topic that is related to my business services, and is very popular, because everyone wants to learn more about it.

If you create a collection on a really popular topic, like the Animal Lovers Collection by About.com, it will probably require very little effort on your part to grow your following.

Animal Lovers Collection
You can also create a Collection on an eclectic or unusual topic. Google’s Featured Collections has more than its fair share of such topics.

Featured Collections
For more ideas on the types of Collections you can create, read Kristi Hines’ excellent post on Social Media Examiner.

The temptation of creating a Collection linked to your Google+ profile is very appealing, because it’s much easier to manage and post to.

If you choose to create your collection on your Google+ Profile, it will reflect the people that are already following you on your profile, and all your followers will see the content you share on your Collection. This seems to be what most people do when they create a Google+ Collection.

Profile 14.9.15

But here’s why you should create a Collection linked to your Google Business Page instead. If you create a Collection that is linked to your Google Business Page, you can grow your Business Page followers along with the follower numbers on your Collections Page (the two numbers are not related for Business Pages).

When I started my Google+ Collection, I had only 22 followers on my Google+ Business Page. They have now almost doubled to 43, much slower than the followers on the Collections page (that has over 3000 followers), but still twice of what I would have had if I had never started the Collection in the first place.

15.9.15 5.39 pm
Also make sure that you create a Public Collection, because once you choose the setting for your Collection, you can’t change it later.

3. Add an attractive header image

Your header image is the first thing that potential followers will see in your collection, so make sure yours is attractive. Although Google gives you a few default header images to work with, these are pretty boring.

The size of the photo should be 1080px wide by 607px tall. But make sure that your visual elements are in the center, as this post by Dustin Stout recommends because the top and the bottom of the image will be cropped out and 124px on top and 123px on the bottom of the image will remain hidden until a user clicks on the cover to reveal the entire image.

See how Rebekah Radice managed to spice up her Collection with an attractive header image.

Rebekah Radice Collection
4. Post content multiple times a day

I’ve seen collections with very little content posted on them. This is a wasted opportunity.

The more often you post, the more you will show up in your followers’ feeds, and the more likely it is that your content will get a +1 or a share.

I’ve seen a definite uptick in +1s and shares on my content since I started sharing my blog posts to my Google+ Collection.

Google+1s and Shares

5. Post manually

Even though Hootsuite allows you to post to your Google+ Business page from their dashboard, the reason I recommend you post manually is because you need to be able to add formatting and hashtags to your post. This will improve the readability and discoverability of your content on Google+.

As this post on Social Media Examiner recommends, add a little formatting variety to your next Google+ post. Use a bold title, italics and other formatting tricks. This will improve the appearance of your content in the newsfeed and could boost engagement.

This is how I generally format my Google+ posts.

Google+ formatting

And this is how they finally appear in the newsfeed.

Google+ formatting result

Don’t forget to sprinkle hashtags liberally. Google will suggest appropriate hashtags as you start typing, but think of related hashtags and add them too.

For instance, in the post above, I could have added #socialmediatips and #socialmediamarketing as related hashtags.

Remember also, that you can go back and edit your posts. So if you want to add hashtags after you’ve already posted it, you can do that at any time.

6. Share lots of third-party content

Don’t make your Google+ Collection self-serving. I add a lot of posts from Social Media Examiner, and other blogs I love, on my Google+ profile.

Not all my posts are strictly about social media marketing, but they’re on related topics, like SEO and blogging, that I love reading about and that my followers seem to enjoy too.

Shared Posts

Sharing third-party content tells your followers that you’re aiming to become a useful source of content on a specific topic, and are not all about promoting your own content.

7. Optimize your image sharing

When you share posts from your own blog on your Google+ Collection, make sure that your blog has open graph meta data and images that are optimized for sharing on all social media channels, so that they look good in your Google+ newsfeed.

Optimized Image

If you’re a business working with a limited marketing budget and don’t want to spend it on the diminishing returns of Facebook marketing, a Google+ Collection (or two) is the perfect option for you.

It’s free and requires just about 5 to 10 minutes of your time every day to grow your followers, increase your +1s, shares and visibility of your Google Business Page.

If I’ve managed to build a growing following of 3000+ on my Google+ Collection in just a couple of months after starting it, I’m sure you can do even better.

There’s no time like the present to get started on your Google+ Collection and build a community that likes and shares your content. The effort is minimal, and the rewards are worth it.