When Google+ first appeared, everyone wondered whether it would destroy Facebook’s popularity the way Facebook tossed a lance into MySpace, deflating it into an obsolete pool of superficial angst.
Some social media experts expounded on Facebook’s vulnerability and even publicly said adios to Facebook while proclaiming their allegiance to Google’s new social media product.
On November 8, 2011, Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist for Slate, openly predicted the demise of this network and declared it a “ghost town.” He concluded his blog with this statement: “Google+ … never managed to translate its initial surge into lasting enthusiasm. And for that reason, it’s surely doomed.”
He was dead wrong.
While Google+ doesn’t have 1 billion users, it has evolved into a platform that authors can’t afford to ignore. It can’t boast 1 billion users like Facebook, but this network continues to grow. As of this writing, it has more than 500,000 users.
You will find plenty of social media types and photographers on this social media channel—and men. According to Google, 69.4% of its users are male, and 29.2% are female.
It makes sense that Google would love its own creations best, so if you want your readers to find you easily on the open Web and if you hope to improve your search engine optimization ratings so you can sell more books, grab a chair at the Google+ table now.
- Share – On Facebook, you click on the blue and white Post button to send your status update onto your friends’ homepages. On Google+, you click on the green and white Share button to activate an update.
- Circle – The Circle is equivalent to a Facebook List (see Glossary). Use this feature to target your messaging to your readers, editors, designers, and critique group members, and to maintain privacy on the very wide open Web.
- Notifications – These are the short updates Gmail users receive about their Google+ profiles. They occur whenever a user has a new connection or shares a comment. They will fly into your Gmail inbox, which makes replies convenient, efficient, and easy.
- Tag – Tags occur in Google+ whenever you type @ before a user’s name, similar to the @ that precedes a Twitter handle or username.
- +1 Button – The +1 button is essentially a Facebook Like icon.
- Chat – Similar to Facebook’s chat feature, you can send short instant messages to other Google+ users. Hemingway, who favored a pared-down, journalistic style, likely would have loved this feature.
- Center Stage – This is the main video window during a Hangout that shows which person is currently speaking.
- Hangout – Hangouts have become very popular. Use this group video chat feature to lead a Web-based discussion.
- Community – Communities are very similar to LinkedIn groups. What is very cool with this feature is that once you comment on a post, you can check follow-up comments by other community members right from your Gmail inbox.
- 1. Photos always encourage engagement. After all, who can resist a beautiful sunset on the Mediterranean Sea or a streetscape picture of Seville? Be strategic about which ones you select. Is your book about traveling to Spain? Share your photos of the Costa Brava, Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor, or the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona (Hemingway would love this). Be imaginative and selective in your approach.
- Share your Google+ profile or page on your website and blog, and ask others to connect with you on this social media channel.
- Don’t limit your calls to action to your blog or e-newsletter. Encourage your connections to share your posts.
- If you decide to start a Google+ page, you can add recommended links to your page under the About tab. Include links to your best blogs and posts by colleagues and/or experts in your niche market.
- Impress your friends and use the Hangouts feature to conduct video chats. (Test this feature on close friends first.) You can discuss your characters or, if you wrote a how-to book, use this feature for a free session on tackling your first memoir or emulating Hemingway’s artistry at developing delicious dialogue.
- Segment your connections so that your messaging can be targeted and consistent.
- Keywords, keywords, and keywords. Use Google Adwords to find keywords to enhance engagement on your posts.
Google+ is a social media network that writers can’t afford to ignore. As long as Google remains the most popular and most trafficked website on the Web, Google+ will be a necessary component of an author’s platform.
About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media strategist, trainer and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. She helps writers attain their social media marketing and public relations goals. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.