UPDATE: As of October 2018, Google+ is no longer a viable social media platform.
As a hardworking writer, you’re probably already Tweeting, uploading images to Instagram, crafting scintillating Facebook posts, pinning pictures to your Pinterest board, blogging on Triberr, and maybe even recording your book signings and readings for YouTube. So the thought of tackling another social networking platform might make you want to toss your computer keyboard through the window.
But if you have a Gmail address or a YouTube account, you’ve already been assigned a profile in G+—why not take advantage of what’s already available?
G+: Google’s Giant Social Media Network
From the platform’s launch in June 2011, Google registered a profile to anyone with a Google account or a Gmail address. So while the number of users increased exponentially, only a fraction of those folks—mostly techies—fully embraced the new forum. This is why G+ is the second largest social network in existence, yet it still lags behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of the amount of time people spend on the platform.
With the massive power of Google behind it, G+ has several features that are particularly exciting for writers.
The Google Advantage
G+ works a lot like Facebook but with different terminology. Instead of custom lists, G+ has “circles.” Instead of groups, G+ has “communities.” Both social media networks have a running stream of posts, so it’s easy to imagine G+ as a less active version of Facebook.
Yet G+ differs from Facebook in a few important ways:
- Interest-Based Networking. In November 2015, G+ was overhauled to focus on the “communities” and “collections” functions, encouraging groups to engage in common interests, like 18th-century Chinese porcelains or novels about artificial intelligence. The upshot is that your G+ stream, compared to Facebook, is likely to have fewer photos of Aunt Gertrude’s cats and more posts about medieval falconry—if you’re into that. For authors, that means you can gear your strategy toward finding fellow writers and book-loving fans.
- A Young, Hip, Techie Audience. With about 35% of its users between the ages of 25 and 34, G+ has a strong millennial demographic. If you’re an author of sci-fi, fantasy, manga, comic books, YA-crossover-to-adult novels, or tech/business nonfiction, it’s very likely you’ll find a receptive audience in this community.
- Google Loves G+. Google is one of the largest companies in the world, and its search engine is internationally preeminent. Google isn’t shy about promoting that synergy. So when you upload a post to G+, Google lifts those G+ posts high in search engine results, organically improving SEO.
Strategies To Integrate Your Social Media Efforts
Good news! There are several strategies for folding this platform into your existing social media marketing efforts without dedicating more of your precious spare time to creating fresh posts:
- Claim Your Profile. If you do nothing else but claim and maximize your already existing G+ profile with photos and the smart use of keywords, you can improve your search engine ranking.
- Use A Social Media Management System. The accepted wisdom concerning social media is to tailor your posts to different platforms. But one study showed that replicating Facebook posts on G+ worked just fine because folks interact on the platforms in similar ways. So if you’re already posting something to Facebook, you can post it to G+ as well by simply checking a box on a social media management system like Hootsuite.
- Hangouts. If you’re a YouTube aficionado, you should definitely check out Hangouts. Hangouts is a video chat service that allows up to ten users at a time. Any video chat on Hangouts can be seamlessly broadcast and posted to YouTube. This is a free perk that no other social media platform can match!
G+ is a must for certain fiction genres and nonfiction writers. But no matter what genre you write in, explore G+ a little further and you just may find yourself interacting with a whole new community of book-loving fans.
QUESTION: How many hours a week do you dedicate to social media? How important is it in your marketing efforts?