Google+ is a social platform I always knew could be useful, but beyond setting up an account, I just couldn’t figure out the best way to approach it. So, I asked someone in the know, my good friend Marcy Kennedy, and wow did she open my eyes to a world of possibilities.
I’m super-excited that Marcy accepted my offer to drop in and share her Google+ mastery with all of us.
Take it away, Marcy.
Four Ways Google+ Communities Help Authors Build Their Platforms
Did you know that Google+ has the second most active user base of all social media sites? (And yes, Facebook, no surprise, is number one.)
Yet one of the biggest complaints I hear about Google+ from authors is that they struggle to meet potential future readers and to get others to engage with what they’re posting.
The solution to both problems is Google+ communities.
Before you think that’s great for a non-fiction writer, but I write fiction, let me stop you. Every novel will touch on topics you can find a Google+ community about.
Someone like Elizabeth Spann Craig with her Southern Quilting mysteries could join communities organized around quilting. Erotic romance authors like Roni Loren could join the community that discusses what to read after Fifty Shades of Grey. Does your novel feature vampires or zombies? There’s a community for that. Does your main character have an autistic son? There’s a community for that too. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Here’s the official Google+ trailer.
Why are Google+ communities better than Facebook groups?
Google+ is run by…Google. Public groups are indexed, and will show up high in Google searches, which means they’re much more discoverable.
Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. Hangouts are a video chat for up to nine people. While hangouts on their own provide great opportunities, the real value is Hangouts on Air. Hangouts on Air are live broadcasts. They’re automatically recorded and saved to your Google+ group, as well as your YouTube account. This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t have the time or technical skills to record videos in other ways.
You don’t have to pay to reach people who’ve already said they want to see the content. The grumbling about Facebook charging to promote posts makes Google+ look even more attractive. You shouldn’t have to pay so that people who have already agreed to be connected with you can see what you’re posting.
But the real question is, how can Google+ communities benefit writers? After all, I did say that Google+ communities can help us meet potential future readers and grow our platform.
(1) Find new ideas for blog posts.
What are your potential future readers already talking about and interested in? Those are perfect topics to blog about. Instead of writing into the void and hoping someone will be interested, you’ll already know what you’re posting on is something they’ll want to read.
Some communities prohibit direct sharing of blog posts so read the rules carefully. However, keep going down this list. The next point is key for developing relationships that will have people adding you to their circles. And once you’re in their circles, they’ll see your status updates—where you can freely share your posts.
(2) Establish yourself as an expert (and as interesting) by starting valuable discussions.
Anyone can start a discussion in a Google+ community, and topics are organized by categories for easy access (another benefit over Facebook groups).
The best discussions result in active conversations, as well as people sharing it to their own circles. If people see your name attached to great conversations often enough, they’ll add you to one of their circles so they can see everything you post.
(3) Get an inside look at what your potential future readers love or hate.
If you’re a quick writer and want to self-publish, you could fill a hole in the kind of books people want to read by listening to the likes and dislikes expressed in communities.
This is also a great way to understand the nuances of your genre. Fantasy fans are vocal about what tropes they’re tired of. Steampunk fans are also very vocal about what does and doesn’t belong in a book labeled “steampunk.” Each genre comes with built in expectations.
A large part of success is knowing readers’ expectations and exceeding them. If a reader buys your book expecting one thing and finds another, they’ll be disappointed no matter how great your book might be apart from those disappointed expectations. Once you’re educated on the expectations, you’ll be able to meet them…or choose to forge a new path, while making it clear to readers what they’ll be getting. Knowledge is power.
(4) If you’re an established author, build a community for your readers.
Google+ communities definitely have a forum feel. Host chats with book clubs. Encourage fan art. Answer commonly asked questions. Provide deleted scenes or interview your characters. If you already have an established audience, Google+ communities provide a low maintenance option for you to encourage conversation among your fans and to be accessible to them.
Google+ is currently a very under-utilized (and poorly utilized) social media platform by writers, but I hope this helps you see the potential hidden inside it.
On Saturday, April 20th, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar called A Crash Course to Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform. The cost is only $35, and we’ll look at how to effectively set up your profile, what to do about circles and communities, how to use hangouts, and more. This webinar is great not only for those who are already on Google+ but also for those who aren’t sure if it’s the right place for them! If you can’t make it at the time it’s scheduled but still want to attend, sign up anyway. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants. Click here to register!
Gene here: See what I mean about the host of possibilities Google+ Communities has to offer authors? I know I’ll be taking Marcy’s webinar and hope you’ll join in as well and unlock the potential of this fantastic tool. Have a question for Marcy? Drop it in the comments, we’d love to chat with you *smile*
Marcy is a fantasy writer who believes there’s always hope—sometimes you just have to dig a little harder to find it. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor. (Check out Marcy’s editing services here.) You can find her blogging about writing on Wednesdays/Thursdays and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth on Mondays and Fridays Because Fantasy Is More Real Than You Think…