Monday 18 July 2016

Google+ ~ Is it relevant and useful for writers?

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. 

The Verdict

Have you set up a Google+ account? Do you use Google+? Do you have any tips to share with us? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia. 

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins


  1. Helpful article, Narelle. Now I know what to do! Thank you :)

  2. I have a Google + account but don't use it much as it didn't have the same tools to automatically post my Wordpress blog posts there. that may have changed, might be time to look at it again :)

    1. Melissa, I can automatically post to Google+ from my Wordpress blog (in the Publicize settings), but my Wordpress posts show up on Google+ as only sharing with me. I may need to adjust my Google+ privacy settings for auto-sharing posts?

    2. I had another look at the settings in both Google+ and Wordpress and couldn't see a way to change the share settings. The other thing I've found with sharing Wordpress posts on Google+ is it tends to pick up an Instagram image from my blog instead of an image from the actual post. In general, Blogger posts (being part of Google) tend to stream into Google+ more smoothly than Wordpress posts.

    3. That's one advantage of sharing to a Google+ Page via Buffer - it does let you choose the image.

    4. Thanks :) Will check it out again. Things must have changed since I last looked.

  3. I have a Google+ Page for each of my websites, and post my blog posts there via Buffer ... which means I hardly ever actually visit Google+. My understanding is that G+ is a male-dominated social network, which means it's less relevant for me (as my target readers are female). But that's not to say it's irrelevant. Just not relevant enough for me to dedicate much time to.

    I did read What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us by Guy Kawasaki, and that was very good. He says that:
    Twitter = Perception
    Pinterest = Pictures (as, I guess, does Instagram, which he doesn't mention)
    Facebook = People
    Google+ = Passions

    1. Iola, thanks for sharing your experiences with Google+. I agree - the female readership don't seem to spend much time (if any) on Google+. I'd be interested to learning more about the pros and cons of Google+ pages instead or in addition to a Google+ profile.

    2. Thank you for this, Narelle, and all those who have commented. I still am not sure how it "happened" but I do have Googe+ but have never used it - yet! Perhaps I have an addictive nature but I find it hard enough to control the time I spend on Facebook and reading more blogs than I should when am trying to work on computer!

  4. Thank you for writing this article and sharing your wisdom. Google Plus is something I need to know more about. The last time I checked my G+ profile it had 80k hits and I hadn't done a thing to promote it! Lightbulb moment for me. If that many people had seen my profile (and goodness knows what content) without me lifting a finger then I wonder how many more people I could influence if I actually tried. Hmm. Food for thought.

    1. Lucy, I made a similar discovery about profile views a few years ago when I first joined Google+. The high numbers may be connected to our existing Blogger post/profile views. It's definitely worth investigating how to leverage the exposure provided by the Google platform.

  5. Thanks Narelle for the info'. I've had a Google+ account since I went to a workshop 4 years ago but I've never really used it. But now, I have edited my blogger account so my blog posts are public on Google+, I've started adding labels and added the people in the sidebar who have accounts. It will be interesting to see the difference it makes to my stats.
    Thanks again.

    1. Susan, it sounds like you've made the right changes to maximise many of the Google+ benefits. If you publish Blogger posts immediately (rather than scheduling), Google+ is helpful and will prompt you to share the post. The labels do make a big difference in the page views on older blog posts, which you can track in your stats. Tweeting older blog posts with relevant hashtags is another option if your target audience is on Twitter.

  6. Oh dear. Looks like I should be using my Google+ account more wisely. Thanks for the helpful explanation!

  7. I almost daily get people adding me to there google plus but rarely go there myself. yes my blog posts go there but I don't


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