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:
- Twitter is renowned for it's speed and it's great for writers, but the feed is quick and you need to have an understanding of hashtags and lists to get the full benefit. Most people depend on the "Top Tweets" feature to find content.
- Facebook is super fun, and really good for your Klout score, but very chat-focused so plan to spend thirty minutes or more whenever you go there. Facebook is wonderful for group discussions and events but the sheer amount of time required by Facebook is daunting to many, many people.
- Instagram is a blast, easy to scroll through and great for visual marketing, but not so easy when it comes to finding links to visit sites. Twitter and Google+ excel at the learning-via-links search results feature.
- Pinterest is creative and visual, and my number one go-to spot when I'm decorating anything. It's way too easy to get sucked into Pinterest and begin to pin like mad. I can spend hours there once I get started so I set a timer whenever I open the app. Here is a search result for Pinterest for Writers if you're looking for cool writing-related pins. Plus our own Laura Drake is a Pin-a-holic, so you should definitely follow her.
5 reasons why I'm a Google+ fan
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).
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:
- Send Hangouts messages: You can start a Hangout with only one person or have a group chat with several people.
- Make video calls: You can have face-to-face video calls with up to 9 other people.
- Make phone calls: Almost all calls you make to the U.S. and Canada are free from all countries where Hangouts calling is available. A few U.S. and Canadian destinations will cost 1 cent per minute (USD), or the listed rate for your local currency.
- Send text messages: You can send text messages using Hangouts with your Android device or your Google Voice phone number.
- Share photos, locations, and stickers: You can share photos, stickers, and emoji in conversations. On mobile devices, you can also share your location with other people.
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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About Jenny Hansen
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.