Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (okay, probably not) – do we really need another social network? And if you do have time for Google +, can’t you just refer your Google + friends to your Facebook page?
I set up my blog three months ago and used my existing friends and knowledge of Facebook to build my page. I have 109 Facebook friends and 329 ‘likes’ on my page. I’m happy enough with that for now but that’s because I know Facebook is not a realistic source of traffic for my external links. I use Facebook to keep in touch with people on a casual, easy-going level, to join groups and to share information. I need Facebook to stay connected and to keep the ‘fun’ side of my social networking going. My blog has a presence but if it disappeared from Facebook tomorrow, it probably wouldn’t be missed. Social media – like man – is not an island… as much as they are competitors, Facebook, Twitter and Google + work best as a package.
Up to now, though, it’s been Twitter that has driven my traffic much more than Facebook. Things happen so quickly on Twitter that you’re much more inclined to click a link and look at it straightaway than think ‘Oh, I might a look at that later’ and then forget all about it or lose it in your feed (as so often happens on Facebook). It’s easy to share and be shared and easily to build up a large following on Twitter (I have about 950 followers on Twitter – substantially higher than Facebook).
A new kid has entered the playground, though, and boy is he proving to be a popular chap. Merging many of the best aspects of Twitter (the ease with which you can dip in and out of the stream, the ease of adding and being added) and Facebook (sharing lengthier posts and links with fuller commentary), Google + is quickly becoming huge. I joined Google + relatively recently and haven’t been too active on it but already my connections are growing day by day at a much faster rather than Facebook and even Twitter.
But why the big fuss about pages? I set up a page for David’s book as a test run to see how it would work for an author. Bearing in mind that a Facebook page can often involve ‘hunting down’ information, I wanted to see how user friendly Google + would be. Would users have to click from tab to tab to tab in order to track down a blurb or email address or buy link…?
Image 1- ‘Posts’ (I recommending clicking the link to view it in its full size):
This image shows the ‘Posts’ screen and it’s easy to see here that there are some quick benefits to Google + pages.
1) It’s easy to add the page to multiple circles, therefore ‘filing’ it. I share most posts with most people, so circles are more a point of reference for me. However, others are very selective about what information they share with which circles – so this aspect of Google + has been very appealing for many
2) It’s also easy to share it with your own circles or to show your appreciation and +1 it.
3) You can display your book title very clearly but also a tagline or short description of your book
4) Using a thumbnail image or illustrations can make your page instantly eyecatching (though it’s probably best if you don’t chop someone’s head off, as I have done – unless you’re into that kind of thing)
Moving from the ‘Posts’ page to the ‘About’ page you can see the real benefits for an author using a Google + page for a book.
Benefits here include:
1) Being able to format your Introduction text, therefore using italics to differentiate a blurb or quotation
2) Using links within your profile to another page, URL or email address
3) Easily accessible contact details (such as email, telephone, IM, mobile) and website link
4) Information is easily seen in one click. A user deciding whether or not to add you to their circles will see this page and instantly have a snapshot of your book but also how social you are as a page user
You can also see that much more than Facebook, Google plus has a quid pro quo system. Your page is not just a stream of your information. When you are logged in as your page you can see people who you have added to your pages circles. You can then share these posts or comment on them, making interaction between you and your followers much more rewarding.
For example, I might post an author interview about Mr Smith. David – logged in as his page – sees this in his stream and shares it with everyone else who follows his page. I benefit as my post gets seen but David also benefits as he is sharing more varied content with his followers and also showing that he’s both a giver and a taker in the Google + world. This makes it more likely that his posts will be shared and then other people will be able to connect with him via those links.
There are many other things that Google + will enable but as an author, these are key aspects to weigh up when making your decision about whether or not to use Google +. Primarily, the ease with which your page can be shared has to be a major consideration. Using the above example, if David shares his new page with 200 people in his circles and two or three quickly pass it on to another 1000, page views can rapidly rise. Compare this to sharing your Facebook link with 200 people on Google + and hoping they click through and… well, I think you can see where I’m going with this…
If it still seems a bit overwhelming, think of all the things you’re not doing. If you’re not embracing Google +, the chances are you’re not utilising Reddit, Digg or StumbleUpon either. You’ve made a decision to pursue the networks that will be most beneficial to you and that’s fair enough. But trust me: Google + needs to be added to that pile. So dig deep and see if you can find just five minutes a day to connect on one more network. This is one area of social media you don’t want to see racing off into the distance without you.
Have fun +1′ing!