We always try to bring you information on the most useful technologies here at WITS and there's a gaping hole in the Google+ category. We hope to rectify that with this post! Google Plus is an incredibly valuable social media platform, especially when it comes to making you (and your books) searchable.
Unfortunately, a lot of people say "Google What?" when they hear about the platform. Here's an excerpt from T5A.com that gives you a high-level view:
What is Google+?
Google Plus acts as a “social layer” for Google, the world’s largest search engine company, and is integrated into its every product and service, such as Search, Android, YouTube, Chrome, Local and Drive.
At its core, Google Plus is an interest-based platform where like-minded individuals communicate, collaborate and create as a community. Unlike other social media networks, this platform gives you an unparalleled opportunity to forge meaningful, long-term relationships by consistently engaging with peers and other industry experts.
As far as just a quick "Getting Started" tutorial, I like this Mashable guide. The post is from a few years ago, but the information is solid and accessible.
Here's how I compare it to the other social media platforms rounding out the Top 5:
The number one most important benefit of Google+ is that it's owned by Google. "Likes," called "+1's" in Google+, will help your search rankings. A lot.
Your social media posts on this platform act like rocket fuel when someone Googles you: the Google Plus results leap to the top. That means if you are aiming to spend as little time as possible on social media, while still getting a big bang for your time, you should add G+ to your repertoire.
Here are two articles that break this down in more detail:
If you really really super-duper care about all search ranking stuff, you should follow SearchEngineLand on Google Plus - they have tons of articles on the nitty gritty of SEO.
The search features inside Google+ are faster (and better) than most of the other social media programs. This goes back to being owned by Google.
You have a sidebar in Google+ that will help you navigate around quickly. You can click on the sidebar to move around between your feed, your profile, your contacts, collections and communities. There's a search bar at the top to browse through all of Google plus, or you can search inside any of the areas located along that left sidebar.
My favorite part of Google+ is the Communities. You can join almost any community you want and they are a quick way to get the info you need from inside Google+ (so you can get in and out quickly).
If you decide to search when you get to the Communities section, be sure to click on the "More" link in your search results. Your mind will be blown.
There are hundreds of amazing communities waiting for you, many in niches that are underserved elsewhere: all the usuals are there, PLUS screenwriters, voiceover artists, women of comic books, musical composers, LGBTQ writers. You name it, there is a thriving community on Google+ for it. If it isn't there yet, you can start your own.
And the access to cool quotes? Mercy. There are a gajillion types of quotes for all you quotaholics. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Laura Drake.)
As if all that magic wasn't enough, the content of these communities is searchable. Yep, you heard me. They are super searchable. It's Google.
If I'm looking for quinoa recipes in my gluten free forum, I just search for it. It will come up immediately, even if it was posted a few years ago.
I need an inspirational quote on success? A quick Google+ search.
Last year Google+ added Collections, which makes finding information even easier. Collections also allow you to position yourself as an easily searchable expert on a topic (and get followers who are interested in your stuff).
Here's Google's summary of Collections:
Google+ Collections, a new way to group your posts by topic. Every collection is a focused set of posts on a particular topic, providing an easy way for you to organize all the things you're into. Each collection can be shared publicly, privately, or with a custom set of people.
Once you create your first collection, your profile will display a new tab where other people can find and follow your collections.
Posts in collections you follow will appear in your Home stream, with a link to easily jump right into the collection so you can get to similar content from that author. Collections give you a great way to find more of the stuff you love from the people you follow.
Google Hangouts can revolutionize your family time, online critique groups and business meetings. They're free and are a lot like Skype or Facetime, but they are integrated into Google and have some fun features. Try Hangouts the next time you're in Google+ or Gmail - I think you'll like it.
Here's a summary from the "Get Started with Hangouts" guide:
You can use Hangouts to send messages, make voice and video calls, and share photos.
Hangouts are synced automatically across devices, so you can start a Hangout on your computer and continue on another device, like your phone.
What you can do with Hangouts:
For the visual learners, here's a video on it - about four and a half minutes worth. (The guy is a bit stiff, but the video is informative.)
There is also the ability to record Hangouts, but only if you launch them in a specific manner. If I wanted to have an author discussion with 10 people or less, I would totally use this feature to record it and post it on my G+ page and YouTube.
There you go...my "Fab Five" on Google+.
This post doesn't even mention all the other coolness I like, such as the ability to easily group who sees what via Circles. I really like being able to control this without having to dive deep into the settings for the program. *trains evil eye on Facebook Team*
Let's open the floor to all of you! I want to hear all your thoughts down in the comments.
Do you use Google+? Why or why not? What feature do you find the most intriguing (or frustrating)? Do you have any questions for me?
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By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.
When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
Thanks for the info, Jenny. I agree with you about Twitter. I have never been comfortable with it, and even perusing Tweets feels like I'm being sprayed with gibberish (which sounds remarkably like an icky substance.) And Facebook is fun for keeping in touch, but it does take too long to do it justice. I don't know much about Google+, but you've made me want to give it a try.
Wonderful, Stephanie! The links at the very top will guide you through the set up. It's pretty easy once you get started. You add your people to Circles, +1 any content you like, go find a few Communities of like-minded individuals and follow a few collections.
You'll have a grand time, and improve your search rankings. 🙂
Jenny, this is a great article and I just want to thank you for taking the time to write it. I’ve found myself bouncing off of Google+ but I keep thinking, once I get the hang of it, it’ll be great. You’ve encouraged me once again. Particularly with the section on “Collections."
Wonderful, Ryan! I'm a fan of working social media into the life you have now, without having it suck away the life you'd like to have. There's nothing wrong with any of the platforms out there - it's just a matter of knowing which one is a good fit for you.
I have never understood Google+ - to me, it's not intuitive or user friendly like other social platforms. But I do see how it could help your searchability. Thanks, Jenny!
You're welcome, Debbie! I agree that it started out clunky. They've improved things a LOT. 🙂
I have got to do this. I never realized what I was missing out on. I have been a Google Plus person for quite a while now, but wow! You have opened my eyes to what it can mean to me. Thank you so much, Jenny.
You are welcome! Let me know how it works out for you. They've improved the interface quite a bit in the last year.
I love G+! There's a great community of writers over there 🙂
Rebecca, I saw the My Little Pony group and immediately thought of you. 🙂 What communities do you belong to that you just love? I want to make sure we get some good recommendations going on in the comments section!
Thank you so much for this post. I had no idea! Have you ever offered an online workshop? I went to your blog to see and laughed myself silly over your blog post on men's underwear. Simply hilarious!!!
Tricia, thanks for making my day! I have so much fun with the Undie Chronicles. It has astonished me how much ridiculousness goes on in the Undie-verse.
I do often offer online classes, although I haven't yet done one on Google+ - perhaps I will!
I think I need the remedial course. Social media can be very overwhelming. Thanks for the tips Jenny. I shall go exploring.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
The YouTube videos are a fantastic way to learn about social media - it's visual, and usually fast. 🙂
Wow, I had no idea all this was available, Jenny, and I'm on Google+! Thanks for the great tips. I'll be checking these out. :O)
Isn't that always the way it is? I felt that way the first time I took a class (on a different social media platform.) 🙂 I hope you enjoy it and that you share any discoveries you find here at the blog. We love to learn new things!
I'm definitely part of a couple MLP groups over there 😉 I also love the WriteMotivation group, although it hasn't been active in several months (but when it is active, it's a great group!). There's a NaNo group, and the "Writer's Discussion Group" is really active.
Oh, magic! I'll have to go join the Writer's Discussion Group. A name like that sounds like fun. 🙂
Thanks, Jenny. Informative post! Pinned & shared. 🙂
You are most welcome, Linda! Thanks bunches for sharing. 🙂
I've avoided Google+ since its inception. It seemed complicated and redundant.
You've convinced me to take another look.
Rebecca, thanks for the heads-up about those groups!
I did not like Google Plus as much at the beginning as I do now. The last year or so, with the Collections and the interface changes, it has become a much more fun and valuable tool for me.
It's true that Google+ is fantastic for searchability. I posted about an imaginary place (under another identity) and it appeared second from the top in the Google search results list within a single day. Of course not many people are actually searching for the imaginary name of an imaginary place 🙂 but if they did, there it would be.
That's wonderful to know, Sue! I love getting to see impact and resullts amongst my own circle. Keep using it - it will help push you up the search rankings. 🙂
Wow. You are always a source of amazing techy info, Jenny! I've wondered for so long about Google+, but it was just too much trouble to learn. Now, here it is, all in one place! Sending you a grateful cyber hug.
You are welcome, Laura! The nice thing abbout G+ is that it doesn't seem to punish you for being less active like Facebook does. For Facebook or WordPress, if you aren't adding regular content, less people will see what you post. For Google Plus, that connection between it and Google keeps your stuff more accessible on a search with very minimal additions.
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I struggle with G+ and never know what to do with it. This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.
You're welcome, Sarah. Regular (minimal) additions to Google Plus have kept me near the top of the search rankings, which is a big deal because I share a name with a world famous gymnast. When I started, I was on page 9 in Google. Now I'm on page 1.