It is time for me to confess. I can hide my guilty secret behind a curtain of self-denial no longer.
I am enamoured with Google Plus. In fact, I may go out and get drunk and have “I heart Google+” tattooed on my bicep.
Now settle down, calm yourselves, please don’t carry on so! Allow me to explain before judging me, if you would.
Don’t Believe The Rumours
For a long time I, like many others, avoided Google+, believing the rumours that its user base consisted entirely of Google employees, a handful of early adopters and several sociopathically vain bon-vivants who could no more let a new social media vehicle pass untested than permit a bandwagon to roll by un-jumped-upon.
Then I saw the light…
In many respects, Google+ (or G+ as I shall now term it, to save typing time and mark myself as a Member of the Initiated) is much like other social networks. It has all the status update and content-sharing features of Facebook. It incorporates the networking-with-strangers element of LinkedIn. Photo- and video-sharing à la Instagram and Vine? You bet your sweet little whiskers!
That Indomitable Community Spirit
But there is one feature which sets the mighty G+ apart from its squabbling siblings and that, ladies and gentlemen, is Communities. Google has made it fantastically simple to do the one thing which is so difficult on all other social media platforms – finding your target audience. How long have you spent on Facebook or Twitter thinking: “This is great, but I wish I could tap into a group of readers who might one day wish to purchase my masterpiece“? The crucial first step in any marketing campaign is to track down your target audience, so you can be sure you’re addressing a receptive crowd rather than wasting your efforts on a scatter-gun approach. How wonderful then, that G+ enables them all to gather together under a huge banner and shout: “Here we are, over here!!”
Admittedly, typing the word “Readers” into a G+ Community search box will yield results of varying quality and relevance. There will, naturally, be some groups targeted specifically at readers of a certain genre – Romance seems to be particularly well represented, thereby proving that G+ users are a soft old bunch. By and large though, the communities of readers are poorly populated, with no more than a handful of members in most. This is almost certainly due to the fact that it would be a rather odd cove who defines themself by the fact that they read.
“What do you do then?”
“I’m a lion-tamer. And you?”
“Me? Oh, I’m a reader.”
Doesn’t really work, does it? A little bland and generic.
However, type in the word “Writing” or variations on that theme and you will find a slew of results comprising many thousands of members. Many of these communities are “Readers & Writers” groups, into which you should dive with carefree abandon and start networking your little socks off. Others are more focused on bringing together those of us with dark rings under our eyes and horny callouses on our typing fingers.
Writers Are Readers Too
Now, there will be naysayers who, at this point, proclaim: “Ah, but those communities are full of writers. Writers don’t need to connect with writers, they need to connect with readers!” To me, this is a very narrow and short-sighted claim. Firstly, writers are readers too – amongst the most prolific and diverse readers on the planet. It’s widely acknowledged that, to be a writer, you have to read as much and as often and as broadly as possible. Does that sound like an audience to you? It certainly does to me. And whose works are writers more likely to read than a fellow writer who has caught their eye with intriguing snippets of their latest WIP? Snippets carefully dropped into community posts, possibly with a request for feedback and critique. So much more appealing than those terrible “buy-my-book” tweets we all know to avoid, wouldn’t you say?
Secondly, there’s the fact that writers (most, anyway) also have friends. If I look at my own circle of acquaintances, the one thing which unites the showgirls, the ninja assassins and the disinherited minor nobility is that they all read. Every lad and lass of them. And who do they turn to when in search of a book recommendation? Got it in one – the writer! The one person they can be sure will have voraciously devoured all the latest releases alongside forthcoming, yet-to-be-published works of genius. And that covers off another of the most sacred tenets of successful marketing – Word of Mouth. A recommendation from a trusted peer is worth more than its weight in marketing budgets. Hey presto, more audience.
So if you’re amongst those who are hovering on the fringes, casting sidelong glances at Google+ and wondering whether it’s worth plucking up the nerve to start a conversation, I say gird up your loins and give it a go.You may soon find yourself head-over-heels besotted and wondering how you ever lived without it. Cheeky little minx that G+ is!