By Narelle Atkins
When Google+ was first launched in June 2011, my writing groups discussed how we could use this new social media platform. Was Google+ the new Facebook? Many of us questioned if we needed another social network in our busy lives.
Five years later, Facebook has grown and evolved into an essential social media platform for writers. The majority of my writing email groups have been converted into Facebook Groups.
What about Google+ ? Is it a useful and/or relevant platform for writers in 2016?
The answer from my experience of using Google+ is yes, but probably not for the reasons you're expecting.
Connecting with other writers and readers on Google+
Google+ has a different set up to Facebook. In Google+ you follow people and add them to circles. The people you follow can choose to follow you back and add you to their circles eg. family, friends, acquaintances.
I choose to make all my Google+ posts public rather than limiting them to one or more circles. This means the whole circle concept of splitting people up into different circles for sharing different content isn't important.
My previous employer used Google+ as part of their HR platform. In this business context, the circles were very important and useful.
I rarely chat and interact with people on Google+. The people in the writing world who I know on Google+ don't tend to chat and interact there, either.
Why join Google+ ?
In 2014 I attended an excellent workshop by Kiffer Brown titled How and Why Authors Should Incorporate Google+ into Their Author Platforms at the Romance Writers of America conference. The workshop was a lightbulb moment because I finally understood why Google+ was important and how to use it more effectively. RWA members can purchase the audio file here.
Google+ is part of the larger Google platform
The Blogger platform I'm posting on now is part of the larger Google platform.
If I share this blog post publicly using the Google+ social media button below, it will post on my Google+ profile and push the blog post higher up in the Google search engine.
If I use relevant labels with my blog post, the Google+ share will help the blog post gain visibility in Google searches. Since Google is a popular search engine, it makes sense to maximise the benefits from Google+ to promote your content.
I analyse the page views on our ACW blog to select the content we share in our 'Best of the ACW archives' posts. If a blog post from 2014 didn't include any labels, the page views are very low compared to the average post page views. The most popular blog posts tend to have titles and labels that contain relevant keywords.
YouTube is also part of the Google family. If you use Gmail, your Google+ account will connect to your Gmail account.
You can also set up a page in Google+ that's connected to your profile - similar to Facebook pages. I haven't investigated Google+ pages but I know there is an option to share to a Google+ page in my paid version of Buffer. Unfortunately I can't share posts from Buffer into my Google+ profile.
How to use Google+
Below is a screenshot from my +Narelle Atkins Google+ profile page that includes ACW blog posts that I've shared on Google+. You'll notice it has a similar layout to Facebook.
To tag another Google+ member in your post, use the + symbol eg. +Iola Goulton.
The sidebar on our blog lists our regular blog contributors. Those of us with a red G symbol next to our names have set up a Google+ account and can be tagged in Google+ posts.
Hashtags are used in a similar way to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You can +1 (like/favourite) a Google+ post, comment on posts, and share posts. These are the three symbols (in order from left to right) at the bottom of the July New Releases post in the screenshot.
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins