Google+ for Authors. Is It Worth It?

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

GOOGLE+ FOR AUTHORS. IS IT WORTH IT? Google Plus Logo
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What Exactly Is Google+? 
Google+ is Google’s social media platform.

Not Another Social Media Platform!
I know. It really is quite exhausting and admittedly I haven’t fully embraced this platform as yet. However, with over 340 million users, I think it’s worth a look in and we can then decide for ourselves if this should be added onto our repertoire of social media marketing, even if it means giving up another that isn’t quite receiving the traction.

How Does It Work? What Can It Do?

  • You can post photos, share content and update your status just like all social media platforms.
  • Google+ allows you to set up your followers by “circles”. This is a most useful function. You can group them into friends, colleagues etc…. and essentially group them in areas of interest which then allows you to target information more succinctly. Circles also allow you to read your feed by the stream you are connected with and share your updates with specific circles. This is particularly useful if you have very different types of content to share and therefore only certain followers will follow the thread of their interest.
  • You can create and/or join communities and concentrate your efforts on areas of importance.
  • Google+ offers a function called “hangouts” which is a space for video conversations for up to 10 participants. A great tool for webinars, conduting Q&As or connecting with your readers.
  • You can get +1s, which is the same as a Facebook “like”. This however is a much more powerful tick box as by hitting the +1 button, you are essentially voting me to your friends associated with your Google+ profile. It’s as if you are endorsing their content, which then leads to exposure for your book.

So What?
So far, sounds to me like any other social media platform.

However, the thing that got me the most is the fact that it’s a Google product. As the most used and most effective search engine in the world, it is therefore safe to assume that all Google+ content would gain some serious SEO traction. Surely, its algorithms would give their own social media function priority over everyone else’s? How else to better gain users? Posts with a lot of +1s have the potential to gain great momentum on the World Wide Web and can certainly affect search rankings.

There has also been much discussion about the fact that Google intends to consolidate all of its services under the Google+ umbrella. As an example, if you wish to post comments onto YouTube (A Google Company) you have to sign in with your Google+ profile. This meant that any level of anonymity was removed and thus reducing the amount of spam on the network. Should Google continue down this path of integration, we would pretty soon have no choice but to own a Google+ account.

My Take
So I started using it at a basic level and so far it’s been pretty easy to manipulate.  It has very similar functions to other platforms but certainly has a very different look and feel to it. It is very much like a microblog. I am far from being a heavy user and I am not about to give up one platform for the sake of giving this one a good go. A lot more work needs to go into this before I can say it’s a must have.

The only concern I have is I don’t know anyone who is a big user of Google+. It’s more a case of everyone understanding they should have it but no one is really interested in building their profiles like they do with other social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter.  So if no one is using it to their full potential, who would I be connecting with? A whole bunch of “surface” users just because they believe they should use it isn’t worth all my work. I shall do more research and see if it’s worth another post in the future.

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