One of the challenges business owners face, however, is understanding how to consistently grow their audience. This article will help by providing 20 ways you can grow your Google+ followers and increase engagement on the platform

1. Add the +1 button to all your blog posts. Make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to share your content.

 2. Use strong calls to action in your posts. Ask people to follow you or +1 your post, and let them know what’s in it for them (e.g., “Follow us to receive exclusive discounts”.)

 3. Post regularly, but don’t overdo it. Buffer suggests somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 posts per week.

4. Follow back your followers. It feels good to see that you have 10,000 followers and that you only follow 10 people. However, this also makes you look like a complete snob. Regularly look through your new followers and follow back the ones who spark your interest.

5. Take part in Google+ communities. Join public groups related to topics you’re interested in. Actively participate in discussions to build relationships with like-minded users.

6. Add engaging and unique content. If you’re just starting out, you need to give people a reason to follow you. Even if you only have a handful of followers, posting interesting and informative content is a must.

7. Create and use branded hashtags. As people share your posts, they’re likely to include your hashtags which will lead to increased exposure and potentially more followers.

8. Send Google+ invitations to your email contacts.

9. Comment on other people’s posts. This is an obvious tip, but one that gets neglected far too often. Don’t just post your own stuff; make sure you’re regularly commenting, +1’ing and sharing other people’s content as well.

10. Include a link to your Google+ page in your email signature. Be sure to include a blurb about the benefits people will receive from following you.

11. Use your profile to reinforce your branding. When people look at your profile, you want them to see a snapshot of your business and what you stand for. Use a high-quality headshot, and don’t forget to include a link back to your site. If you’re a local business, be sure to include your full address; this way Google will automatically include a map on your About page.

12. Use circles to segment your followers. Using circles allows you to provide the most targeted and relevant content possible – at least to those who follow you back.

13. Choose large, eye-catching images to include with your posts.  The optimal size for your post images is 497 x 373 pixels.

14. Mention influencers in your posts. Find and follow key figures in your industry and mention them where appropriate. I covered this topic in detail in my post, How To Get Industry Influencers To Boost Your Social Media Reach.

15. Include a link to your Google+ profile everywhere: on your website, Facebook and Twitter profile, marketing materials…everywhere.

16. Ensure you’ve uploaded a profile photo. Sounds obvious, I know. But no one is going to follow a faceless profile! Use a professional headshot if possible, and make sure it’s a close-up (that circle is so small in posts, and you want people to be able to identify and recognize you).

17. Mention your Google+ page or account on your blog. Don’t be afraid to casually mention and link to your Google+ account in your blog posts where relevant (e.g., “I was just talking about this on my Google+ page the other day…”)

18. Ask your followers to +1 your content. There’s a lot of research that shows that asking your social media followers to share your posts actually works.

19. Host your own Hangouts on Air. Promote your Hangout on Google+ as well as on your website and other social media profiles. Remember that even those who aren’t on Google+ can watch!

20. Cross-promote your page and personal profile. You likely already know that Google+ gives you the option of having a personal profile and/or a business page. Leverage all your followers, and promote your best content to increase your audience for both your page and personal profile.