I was an early adopter of Google+ so have actively used it as part of my author platform since it started as an ‘invitation only’ network in 2011. Since then Google+ has matured into a lively and often thought provoking community. As well as being a great place to easily cross post your blog and get useful feedback on ideas, such as your new book cover, Google+ content has higher visibility in Google searches than content from other social networks.
It is hard to find out how many users there are but I was surprised to see in the Wikipedia league table that Google+ has overtaken Twitter. Google+ is free and fairly easy to use, with no limit to the length of posts so makes a sensible addition to your author platform. I find it doesn’t distract you from your writing too much and feels much more relaxed than Twitter without the ‘complications’ of Facebook. Here then are my ten top tips for getting the best from it:
1. Set up a banner and photo that fits your ‘brand’
Google+ cover photos now automatically resize to fit your screen resolution - and are the first thing your visitors see. The cover photo size is 2120 x 1192 pixels, so you need a high resolution image and it is an opportunity to make a good first impression. You also need to make sure your profile image (which is now round) fits well with your background image – and remember that Google+ fades in a black border so that your details stand out in white. Don’t fall into the trap of making it too complicated though - simple is often best.
2. Edit your Google+ ‘tagline’
When you add someone to one of your Google+ ‘circles’ it helps if they can easily see who you are and what interests you share. The ‘tagline’ is displayed when you go to the ‘about’ page. There is a section on the right under the heading ‘story’ where you can change the tagline, as well as add a longer introduction, if you wish to.
3. Link your Google+ profile to your website or blog and other social media accounts
You can fast track building your author platform by making it easy for people to connect with you on other social media. Google+ makes it simple to add links to Facebook and Twitter, as well as your blog and even sites such as Pinterest and YouTube.
4. Join communities to find like-minded people
One of the best discoveries I’ve made on Google+ are the communities where I’ve met some great writers. People have to be in at least one circle to be a contact on Google+ but you can also add them to several and it’s useful to organise your contacts into circles that help you interact more easily with readers, writers, agents and publishers – and ‘segment’ people into topic specific groups or categories that help build your author platform. There are so many communities it can be hard to decide where to start but a couple I recommend are Writers Corner and the somewhat esoteric ‘Writ’ community, which is small but includes very talented writers.
5. Post interesting links you think people in your circles will like
Google+ is much more of a forum for new ideas than many of the other social media platforms. If you can find the time to post links that you find interesting, other users with similar interests will ‘tune in’ and add you to circles. Your network of contacts starts to grow organically without you doing much - useful when you are trying to avoid distractions from hitting a writing deadline. When sharing links, it helps if you can create a headline and pose a question to encourage discussion and comments.
6. Cross post from your blog
You can easily increase the audience for your blog by sharing new posts on Google+. Blogger now prompts me to post to Google+ when I publish a new post - and Wordpress can auto post using plugins and tools such as Hoot Suite’s free service.
7. Interact with other G+ users by commenting on posts
It is a community, so people do appreciate it if you make the effort to comment when you have something to add. At the very least, find the time to click on the +1 (recommended) for posts that interest you.
8. Make your posts stand out
A useful tip is to add an * each side of your post heading, which makes it appear in bold on Google+. You also need to make effective use of eye-catching images. ‘Animated Gifs’ are particularly good at catching attention – and you can easily make your own using free online apps. A good one is gifs.com which enables you to ‘grab’ a few seconds of any YouTube video and create an animated Gif to illustrate your post.
9. Use Google+ as a source for other social media
I often pick up great links and ideas which I convert into Twitter ‘tweets’ and post on my author Facebook page. As well as helping the originator of the content, it means you can easily ‘enrich’ your social media posts without wasting valuable writing time.
10. Add a Google+ button to your blog
Blogger has a ‘widget’ to make this really easy – see example on my blog TheWriting Desk. If you are a Wordpress user there are several clever third-party ‘plugins’ for the technically minded – but I find it easier to simply add a standard button in the sidebar see https://tonyrichesauthor.wordpress.com/.
Please comment below if you have suggestions for more Google+ ideas for authors