More and more, I’m becoming a fan of Google Plus, or Google+ as the logo shows. As Facebook continues to evolve into a commercial space with more ads than status updates and less supportive to those with Facebook business accounts unless you pay to promote your statuses, Google+ is looking more like the better choice for writers and other creative artists.
At first, I used it as just another platform to establish as I’m getting my stuff written and ready. So I had created an account a while back. But lately, I’ve been diving in to see how it can be useful for marketing purposes. And you know what? I’m finding myself using my Google+ page more and more, even personally.
The Layout – You can customize how you want the layout to look, but it flows so much better than the Facebook layout simply because you choose the content that is shown. I like the gallery-type layout where it fills my screen. Visually, it is more stimulating. But lest you get lost in all the visual goodies, let’s talk about the bigger plus of narrowing things down.
Circles – Yes, Facebook has your group of friends. But did you know that you don’t see nearly 1/3 or your friends’ statuses? You only see those of the friends you interact with more. And you can narrow down which people see what of your things, but whenever Facebook updates, you have to go and revisit your preferences.
With Google+, you add people to Circles. There’s the open Public one, where anyone can see what you post. Then you can create your own circles – I have one for Friends, Family, Writers (in general), and then a writing group I belong to. And you can customize who sees your content every time you create it, not just in your Settings that has to be revisited. Whenever I post a status, I can choose who I want to see it. That means, it can be as public or private as you want it to be! You can add pictures, videos, links, or whatever to your updates. (The more visual you make your update, the more chances you have in somebody checking it out).
Google Hangout – I’ve been playing around with this feature, and I am more than impressed with it. It’s a tool to have a video and/or audio meeting, again as public or private as you would like. You can create a Hangout event, schedule it, invite the intended Circle and any other gmail accounts to attend. The drawback is that you are limited to 10 live participants. But it’s a great way to connect and easy to set up using your Google+ account. And if you’re bold enough, once you connect your Google+ account to your YouTube account, you can make a Hangout live on air, so that anybody can tune in and watch the Hangout happening in real time or check it out later.
Communities – As another way to customize how your profile continues to expand, you can set up or join a community. They offer everything from fandom like Doctor Who to products you support. As Damien Farnworth says on copyblogger.com about Google+, “When you join a Community, you’ll start to get the posts shared in that community (as if it were a Circle) showing up in your Google+ stream. It’s a great way to network with like-minded people and get in front of an extended audience, especially if you post, share, and comment within that community.”
The Plus System – Much like the “Like” function of Facebook, when someone clicks on the “+1” icon on your status, it helps get the attention of others. Also, Google takes notice. The more +1‘s you acquire, the more visible you become and the stronger your profile is established. Instead of being bombarded with ads based on your “Like’s”, your profile becomes more defined for those who look for it. On your profile, there is a tab where viewers can see what it is you’ve given a “plus” to. If you’ve got readers posting anything about your work and you “+1″ their updates, others can see that as well.
Writer Benefits – If you think about it, Google+ offers so much more community than Facebook, although I will be keeping my author page on Facebook live and active for now. You can create specific Circles for readers. Perhaps you have a street team that helps get the word out about your work. Or maybe you have an announcement you want to make to just your fans first. With Google+‘s use of Circles and the ability to choose who sees your posted content, you can customize and cater your information to put your readers first.
I’m still exploring Google+ offerings like Communities for marketing uses. Perhaps it would work if you had a specific series that would benefit from having its own Community. Readers could post their favorite things, related pictures, perhaps images of actors they think would play certain characters well, and many other cool options. It’s just another possible avenue to connect directly to your readers.
For those that are comfortable doing a live broadcast, you could set up a Google Hangout as a prize. Perhaps some lucky readers can help you pick your next book, or create a new character, or discuss what was and wasn’t working for them in your work. When you have a book launch, you can do it live to the world using a Hangout on Air through YouTube.
Social media is always changing. Whether using Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, GoodReads, Pinterest, or other places, all authors need to start putting themselves out there for readers to find and to connect to. As of now, I’m still building my presence at Google+, but I predict that by mid-year, it will be my main hub for announcements and for establishing a community for readers who find me!
My Social Media – Since I can do an all-call for where you can find me, here are the links for where I’m posting these days!