Google+ is no slouch in the social media space, commanding nearly 200 million active users in the stream as of May 2013. While it does offer unique features like Hangouts, group video chats with up to 10 people, it’s not too awful different from other social networks. You can follow or “Circle” people, segment the people you follow into specific circles (lists), share with specific circles or publicly, and so on.
You can create a community, start a page, and with cool features like Auto Awesome, upload the best looking photos possible. With any social network, the biggest defining factor is its community, many of which who span well beyond the tech geek stereotype. As Google+ continues to grow, so has the idea of it becoming a serious avenue for bloggers.
Popular tech writer Mike Elgan has long touted the benefits of using Google+ for blogging, and recently created a “Blogs of August” shared circle that is full of people blogging on the social network. In his post titled “8 reasons you should quit your blog for Google+”, Mike essentially makes one very bold statement:
Google+ is more viral, gives you a vastly larger audience and a more engaged community around your blog than you can get on any other site. (You blog for you, not Google.)
While your performance will vary depending on multiple factors, there are several benefits for bloggers:
With Facebook and Twitter, what you see is what you get. Since the beginning, Google+ has allowed users to bold, italicize or strike-through text using easy to remember symbols. For example, surrounding a word or words with an asterisk bolds it, and surrounding a word or words with an underline italicizes it. This not only helps to better organize your content, but also brings more attention to it.
Ability To Edit Posts
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed up a Facebook post or misspelled something in a tweet. To fix any errors, your only option is to delete and try again.
On a traditional blog, building up a good amount of subscribers, and a great community, can take months, even years. Google+ not only already has millions upon millions of active users, but with Google behind it, search is front and center. Combine that with hashtags, and you can exponentially increase your content being seen.
Google has long had Google+ posts integrated into search results. Anyone who has you circled and personal results turned on, can potentially see your posts within search results. As the social network continues to grow, so will traffic to specific, relevant posts from search.
Unfortunately, its recently updated multi-columned layout just isn’t ideal for long-form content. It looks off-putting, and can be annoying having to scroll so much due to columns being so thin. On the plus side, photos or videos appear beautifully, and can position posts to take up the full three columns depending on certain factors taking place behind the scenes.
Google does offer the ability to switch to a single-column layout, but I doubt nearly as many users are using it versus the default. Now, if you’re writing a couple hundred words or so, maybe blogging about quick thoughts, it’s not so bad. Also, there’s currently no way to monetize your content. Sure, you can make money indirectly by building up your presence, networking, etc., but for those still reliant on advertising, it’s just not there. With that said, Google+ does have a lot to offer bloggers. It has features like rich text that you don’t get on Facebook or Twitter, and its search integration is grossly underplayed.
Should you go all in though, and discontinue efforts on your current blog? Probably not. The reality is, you do not fully own your account. At the end of the day, Google does, and if something ever was to happen to your account, you can say goodbye to everything you have ever posted, including a potentially invaluable network of friends and fans.
However, it definitely doesn’t hurt to explore, and try new things. If you haven’t given Google+ a try or don’t spend that much time there, try and make more of an effort. Share more thoughts, ideas, tips and just as important, network. You never know what new, extremely valuable relationships you might form.
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.