Why You Should Be On Google Plus
As far as I can tell, very few of my non-blogging readers are on Google Plus. Is this because Google Plus is only of use to bloggers, writers and the social-media-crazed? Does it serve a purpose for “normal people”? Yes! It turns out there are some very good reasons why you normal people should be on Google Plus too.
What I remember seeing on Facebook when Google+ was unveiled is that people didn’t want a new social media platform. It was too much effort to join up and find their friends in yet another place. And they certainly weren’t going to put in that effort for something that seemed to mimic the social media platforms they were already on.
Either they didn’t join up or they joined up and then didn’t use it.
But now Google+ has been around for nearly two years and has begun to establish itself (among its users, at least) as different from other social media platforms. Most social-media lovers are on Google+ and are using it a lot.
Why You Should Be On Google Plus: The Place For “Normal People”
Yes. A wonderful place. Google+, like Twitter, allows you to follow whomever you’d like; they don’t need to follow you back. This means that you have access to the streams of any celebrity, writer or blogger that you’re interested in.
BUT, unlike on Twitter, people don’t tend to post their day-to-day tedium. There’s very little “It’s a four-cup-of-coffee kind of day. How many cups have you had?” kind of stuff.
Note that I enjoy the small-talk-like interaction that comes from these posts. However, I don’t need it on every social media platform. What I like about Google+, and what I think “normal people” would like about Google+, is that (usually) it is the non-tedium that is posted. It’s all about the links to interesting articles, beautiful pictures, upcoming events (virtual and real ones). So if you really like the way a certain person thinks, you can follow them on Google+ and get their links and the links that they find noteworthy.
And not all that other stuff.
(If you want all that other stuff, the person is probably on Twitter and they probably have a Facebook Page too. Follow them there to get all their ecards and fun questions and comments about coffee).
What else is great about Google+?
There are “Communities” that you can join. These are a bit like Facebook Groups where people with a similar interest can discuss topics. Here’s a great explanation about how Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups are similar and different.
When I first heard about hangouts I thought they sounded so lame. “So it’s like Facebook but you’re on camera and everyone can see you? Yuck!”
But then Google+ introduced Hangouts On Air (HoAs). When you do an HoA it can be watched live by anyone from an Event Page on Google+ (here’s how to create an Event Page for the HoA), from your stream on Google+ and from your YouTube Channel. And when the hangout is over, it then becomes a permanent video on the Event Page, your G+ stream and your YouTube channel that anyone can watch anytime (unless you delete it for some reason).
At first I thought, “So my lame video conversation goes up all over the world for everyone to see? Blech! Who would want that?”
It turns out that many of us want that, me included. It’s a great way to make some easy video content. If you’re a blogger, getting into video is the thing to do. It’s yet another venue where you can be seen by your fans. Here’s some info about what Hangouts On Air can be used for and how to get started. And here’s a step-by-step on setting up for your HOA.
I’ve made a couple of cooking demos using HoAs as part of some series of demos being done by the G+ Food Bloggers Community. Here’s one about how to make Raclette at home. And, as you may know, I’ve been doing a weekly HoA with Katie of Katie’s Cucina sine July 2012 where we interview a different food blogger each week on a food or food blogging topic. Here’s our blog devoted to our G+ HoAs and right below this sentence is our most recent video chat, conveniently enough all about Google+ for Food Bloggers, with Jenni Field of Pastry Chef Online.
But is there a benefit of Google+ Hangouts and Hangouts on Air to “normal people”?
I think so. You can watch the hangouts live and type questions on the Event Page as it’s all unfolding. You can also interact with other viewers on the Event Page. Or, you can watch after-the-fact. So if you follow someone and like what they write, what they say and the links they share, now you have one more way to get their output. Cool, right?
One Final Thing: Social Results in Search
One more thing: Google is using Google+ to tailor search results. Thus, if you are signed into Gmail or Google+ and you do a search, you will get results that contain info from your friends and other members of your circles. It will often even have their profile pic right there in the search results so that you will know immediately who the info is from.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I often prefer my results to be anonymous. I like to see what Google would recommend to everyone, not to me specifically. But this is usually just when I’m checking to see how my own or my colleagues’ posts and recipes are ranking. When it comes to quick searches that are pertinent to my everyday life, having local input and input from sources whose trustworthiness I am able to judge from past experience, THAT, my friend, is invaluable and totally makes Google+ more than just another social media platform.
Now that Google+ has established itself a bit, has a lot of users and has distinguished itself from other social media platforms, it’s a great time to give it a(nother) try. Oh, and hey, once you get over there, why not put me in one of your circles? It’s a great place to hangout!