As we step into 2013 I thought I’d start the year with a social media post, this one asking the question Is Google+ Dead? We all know that indie authors need to stay on top of social media in order to connect with our readers and hopefully help a few books. And there are a lot of social media platforms…how does one keep up with all of them? If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I tout Twitter and Facebook fan pages (see Promoting Your Books for posts on these topics), but what about Google+? Heck, Google is a huge force, but is their social media site any good? Is it worth the time?
Indie Authors – The Beginning of Google+
Google+ roared out of the gates in June 2011, and the buzz was that it would replace Facebook as the social media site you needed to be on. I wrote a post for another blog about Google+ versus Facebook, this but it has a malicious link so I will give you the highlights here:
Google+ had the distinction of getting to ten million users faster than any other social networking site. Pretty impressive, right? But, and here’s the key, they were not able to sustain this. According to a number of articles, Google+ traffic fell by as much as sixty percent in the first few months after its launch. Speculation was that people ran to Google+ because it was the new kid on the block, but few users saw any reason to stay. That doesn’t say much for Google+.
A damning piece in the whole drama of Google+ versus Facebook was that it became public knowledge that only three of Google’s top management team even used Google+. And these users apparently rarely ever posted on their own site. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, does it? Like or hate Mark Zuckerberg, but he has his own Facebook account, and he likely knows at least some of what users like and dislike about Facebook. It doesn’t sound like the same can be said of Google+.
To further compound their problems, a post from a Google+ engineer surfaced in which he ripped his fellow workers for not understanding platforms:
Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.
Check out this wonderful article for this Google insider’s rant on his own company. It is truly fascinating.
Add to all that the Time on Site metric:
When someone visits your Google+ page or your Facebook page, you want them to spend time on your site, not just bounce off it right away. And here’s the problem for Google+: they are no competition for Facebook. Statistics indicate that people spend up to three times more time on Facebook than Google. This means more chance for ads to be clicked on, more chance for users to engage with you as a fan page owner, and more chance for you to get people from Facebook to your website or book selling page. And with the ability to automate some of your tasks, an opportunity to make connections and possible sell books. Google just doesn’t do this.
Indie Authors – Is Anyone On Google+ Anymore?
Well, it’s 2013 and Google+ didn’t replace Facebook. It looks to me like Google+ is a ghost town (like that picture – I took that before we summited Mount Sherman). As I researched articles for this post, I saw many user comments saying that people were not using Google+ anymore. People seem bored with Google+ and here are some of the reasons:
- Facebook had the games first
- Facebook allows you to add friends to special lists, so you don’t need circles
- Facebook has photo syncing
- Everyone is already on Facebook, so why switch to something else
The one thing I see that people like with Google+ is Hangouts, but people complain that it is buggy, which negatively affects the user experience.
Indie Authors – Should You Bother With Google+?
Funny, after giving all those negatives about Google+ you’d think I’d say don’t bother with it, but I actually think there’s some benefit to Google+. Some might like it as their social platform…personally, I’m not active on Facebook or Google+ from a personal standpoint, but I continue to actively use a Facebook fan page. But there is a big reason why I think indie authors should still use Google+.
Indie Authors – Google+ And SEO
If you don’t want to be active on Google+, but you want people to find your website, blog or books, it’s a good idea to be active on Google+ because of the SEO. Using Google+ can help get your website or blog a higher page ranking, if you do a few things:
- embed links to your sites, posts, etc.
- use keywords in your content
- provide relevant, interesting content
- use keywords in your Google+ about page
- get people to Plus One your posts
Indie Authors – More on SEO
Some people think that SEO isn’t worth it, or that it’s dying out. I don’t think that’s the case. SEO is constantly evolving, just like the book publishing business is constantly evolving. If you want to be at the head of the class, in either, you have to stay on top of the changes. I’ve seen the results on my blog and website. Since I’ve created both, and worked hard to use the SEO tips I’ve learned, I’ve seen both sites improve a great deal. When I search on certain keywords (best of film noir, for instance) my blog comes up on the first or second page of Google. Something must be working here :).
Maintaining a blog can be hard…but just a little work on Google+ can certainly help.
Tell me what you think…do you use Google+? And don’t forget to plus one (the red Google button) posts that you like…it only takes a second and it’s paying it forward