15 Jul 2014

Extract Data From Influencers To Grow Google+ Engagement

Here’s a useful video by +Susan Finch to help us with Google+ circle management. At 4:50 minutes, it’s a must-see that will bolster your engagement in even less time than that*.

The short video teaches us how to extract data about people we follow on Google+ using a simple tool built into +Circloscope. We can then utilise that data to garner targeted, quicker engagement on Google+ (with just a little help from MS Excel).

Exporting circles data needn’t be complicated

The video shows Susan ripping Google+ IDs into a .csv file, all whom had engaged on a recent hangout she’d hosted. Everything is available in one export tool in Circloscope, no fancy configuring required.

Next, Susan opens a new Excel worksheet and goes to the ‘DATA’ command tab. Using ‘From Text’, Susan imports that extracted .csv file info as text*. The final step is to delimit that data with the import wizard.

The final task is to paste the +Mention info into a new G+ post to thank her engagers in public. Google+ is clever enough to translate the plain text (+ sign prefixed to 21-character unique G+ ID number) into a Plus-Mention.

In the example for this blog post, I’ll share with you the screenshots for my project. It’s detailed below, but you’ll see the relevance.

Step 1: import circle data (mine shows 51 as me and my page are in there, too):

Step 2: select properties to export from Circloscope and export* (only ID is needed for my project):

Step 3: import .csv data "From Text"**

Step 4: use import wizard to delimit columns:

It may sound complicated; if so, sorry. It’s much easier to spend the five minutes watching the video, which proves even a numpty like me can use it. In any case, your machine, either in Circloscope or on your desktop, prompts you at every turn.

*Tip: just make a mental note of where your default download location is before you import from Circloscope.

**Tip: don’t open the .csv that you export from Circloscope. It will run amok with the long 21-digit ID/+Mention data. Yes, that’s a tip from me based on first-hand experience - D’oh!

It took takes less than two minutes to import and create such a database. I’ve just done something similar for another project, more of which below.

There is, however, a proviso. To achieve the import process in such quick fashion, you must already have a Circloscope account, with your circles pre-loaded. Depending on how many people you follow will determine how long they take to load.

Tip: it’s not that quick!

And, yes - this particular “Select All” feature does work on the freemium version of Circloscope. Awesome stuff!

What you can do with the Circloscope tool - an example

The possibilities are immense, from all manner of marketing angles. You can keep track on engagers of a specific event, as Susan did. This is a great way to build relationships.

You can also import people alongside the circles into which you’ve placed them. This enables you to see at-a-glance if you need to distribute people to other circles, or delete them completely.

You can keep track on competition, see what they’re posting. Need to research a topic? Search G+ for your hashtag(s), stick those who post about it in a circle, then rip their data.

But here’s what I’m gonna do with it. I’ve created a Drive Sheet that lists my top 49 Google Plus influencers. It came about because:

"I do so love it when Mr Jingles tells me there are 99+ notifications awaiting inspection. I click that bell and immediately check them all.”

Said no one ever.

Above is my "Google Plus 49ers" circle, the circle formerly known as G+ on Steroids.

In the same way Susan extracted her engagers into a spreadsheet, I extracted this circle’s membership.

After cross-examining each of these individuals (not!), I lovingly loaded them, by hand, into a sheet of the workbook entitled “Top 50”. I pasted the info into a ‘Defined Name’ area in a second sheet in the workbook.

Why? Well, I can change these people often; the main page will only ever mirror the names in that area. Those changes could be based on relevance in G+ » People or just on a whim. However, it was updating the column to reflect the circle changes that used to be a pain!

I should have paid attention to +Mark Vang’s posts with more urgency! This post/video would have saved much of this labour, and some!

Monitor your industry, influencers and competition

Anywho, to the main sheet (and purpose) of the workbook. It’s a Weekly Schedule, designed to ensure I get around to each of my Top 50 G+ influencers. Or, should I say, “the 49ers”?

Yes, I’m in there, too, hence Top 50. Yes, the inclusion may play to my vanity, but not so much that I share my own posts (“For the evening crowd”, my eye!).

By extracting the data from Circloscope as Susan demonstrated, I copy and paste the Names and ID information into the “Top 50” sheet. They go into the named reference in Excel, so it’s important that membership numbers stay the same.

The front sheet, “Schedule”, pulls that name information through into a check-list (seen on the right beside the calendar, above). I then concatenate both a +Mention column each 49er's G+ profile URL using the ID number and simple =CONCATENATE formulae. Both are simple enough to achieve importing only the ID number from Circloscope.

I can then click through to each member's profile to see what they've been up to right from the sheet. If I want to h/t them in a post - if I’m sharing through Hootsuite, say - the +Mention info’s to hand, too.

I’ve found this list handy when curating content from outside G+ via Hootsuite. Having an influencer’s +ID to hand saves loading G+ if I want to *Ping!* them about specific content.

Anyway, back to the weekly routine. Once I’ve found and shared an influencer’s post, I enter their name into the “Schedule” from the drop-down list.

Once their name appears in the weekly calendar, it’s no longer highlighted in the adjacent check-list. This helps highlight whose content I’ve got left to share for the rest of the week.


Many people (I've learned) fear Microsoft Excel more than The Grim Reaper himself. If that's you, here's a video from Circloscope that demonstrates how to import the data as a .txt file right from within the tool itself:

Leverage influencers to help become known for [niche]

But the usefulness of this spreadsheet doesn’t stop there. Talking of ‘known for’ topics, how can we keep a record of the subjects about which we’re creating or curating content?

Why is it that people are following us? What do they expect from us as their half of the bargain? Because that’s what it is. When people circle us, they allow us to populate their stream with our content. Can we live up to our own billing?

And what about when we don’t know why people are following us? This could account for many followers, but who checks (or cares)?

We could have posted one Caturday image that attracted a significant number of new followers. But can we class those as relevant to our identity or goals?

Be ‘known for’ relevant topics

To help stay focused, I’ve created ten topics in which I’d like to become expert. Or at least ‘known for’. I’ve created the list in the “Top 50” tab, given the area a ‘defined name’ and it now facilitates the “Topic” dropdown list in the “Schedule”.

You may want to create less topics and focus on specific niches. But I’d question aiming for more than ten. If you’re intent on covering a diverse range of topics, perhaps consider brand pages for a selection of them?

I’m not saying we can make arguments for every single person who follows us. Rather, by concentrating our content curation topics, we’ll ensure that new followers are relevant.

So, beneath the author whose post I’ve shared, I allocate a topic from a second drop-down list, too. A counter beneath the calendar tots up how many posts I’ve shared from any given niche. Again, this helps focus on a rounded week.

There’s a progressive data-bar to help us identify what topics we’ve shared week-to-date at-a-glance.

As you populate the Schedule, the data-bars will represent the given topic as a percentage of everything you’ve shared.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. I could just break down the circle into seven smaller ones and name them Sun-thru-Sat. However, that would mean breaking up the main circle into seven, compromising my UX. That sort of defeats the object of the spreadsheet.

Also, allocating set days would mean best-guessing when each influencer would publish a shareable post. Could I guarantee that by pegging each to a specific day they’d come up trumps for me? You know the Law of the Sod, right?

What is a good idea, if you don’t mind separating your main circle into two, is this:

  1. Load up your main 49-ers circle at the start of the week in G+;
  2. pick the seven most relevant stories you want to share for day one;
  3. as you share, remove the person from the main circle into a ‘done’ circle;
  4. when next you load the 49-ers circle, only people whose stories you’ve not shared will appear listed;
  5. to save you having to move everyone back at the start of the next week, just work in reverse.

Why go to such length to share other people’s content?

That’s a fair question. When you’re struggling to promote your own content, why engage on other people’s posts?

First, this is a great way to confirm whether you’ve got a relevant following. If you’re seeing little engagement, you need to begin ‘social listening’. Find and engage with those who’ll help spread your message further and vice versa.

In addition to keeping tabs on a Plusser’s profile and topics, I also record the time. Overall, this gives us the ability to test our G+ marketing strategy, by qualifying:

  • whose posts are resonating most with your followers;
  • which topic does engagement suggest you’re most known for;
  • what time is best to post for maximum engagement and when G+, for you, becomes the ghost town about which we hear so much.

And that’s what G+ is all about: relevant engagement. It’s not about sucking up. It’s not about screaming for attention. I stopped that last month. No, this exercise is about:

  • crafting a circle and system that prevents (me and) my posts being too 1-dimensional;
  • keeps me up-to-date with each of the industry topics in which I’m interested;
  • introduces my influencers to a new audience (my 20,500+ following);
  • and (touch wood) keeps my followers in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.

If there are ways I can improve this process, I’m all ears. Please do drop your comments and questions in the applicable space, below.

As an aside, I ripped the template straight from those proffered in MS Word. I then modified it to cover the actual week, not the working one. As a freelancer, they are one and the same.

If you want to modify a copy for your own schedule, here's an embedded version of the spreadsheet that also has a download link:

To make that spreadsheet work for you:

  1. make a circle on G+ with your top 49 influencers;
  2. install Circloscope (free) if you don't already have it;
  3. load up the people you follow on Google+ into Circloscope (automatic, but may take a while);
  4. rip and import the ID info from the circle (like in Susan's video, but "ID" and "Name" properties only);
  5. paste the Names into Column A (below A1 [Plusser]) of the Top 50 tab in your downloaded spreadsheet;
  6. paste the 21-digit numerical reference in Column B adjacent to the plusser's reciprocal Name;
    • I've copied "relevance" from Circloscope, too; this is in Column D in the downloadable spreadsheet.

      If you want this information, too, choose the "relevance" tag in Circloscope as per Step 2, above, then paste into Column D, again in the same row as your Plusser;

  7. overwrite my ten topics with those you want to follow/be known (Column F [Topic]);
  8. do NOT type anything into Columns C, E, G or H as these contain the formulae for profile URL and +Mentions;
  9. save the spreadsheet as a template then start curating!

Remember, the intention is to share 7 posts across 7 days, one from each of your influencers. Build a relevant following by becoming expert in targeted areas. Your followers, Google and perhaps one day your bank manager will thank you for your diligence.