Guest post: Five reasons I fell in love with Google+
After I ran a Google+ workshop last week Steven Cole got in touch to share his experience of getting to grips with the platform and offered to write a guest blog post. By Steven Cole
As the title of the blog suggests, I feel rather strongly about Google+. My name is Steve, I have worked in digital marketing full time for the last four years and I am particularly focused on Social Media in my day to day role. I am also a bit of a nerd when it comes to keeping up to date with the latest social trends and a long time reader of sites like Mashable and The Next Web - so when I heard Google was launching it's own Social Media platform I got rather excited.
However like most, that excitement began to dwindle after setting up my profile, sending out my first post (no doubt something about it being my first post - how original) and then realising that all of the people I was connected with where elsewhere on the web and not actually on Google+. I began to feel disillusioned with the platform, then came a torrent of disparaging blog posts and commentary from my usual news sources which I would of liked to defend but it was echoing my experience.
Then came my breakthrough moment. Prior to a long drive to London from my North East home I decided to download an audio-book by a chap called Chris Brogan, whom I now know to be a legend in the social media world. The book was called "Google Plus for Business" it was about four hours long, roughly the same as my journey, and from that moment, I understood the Google+, how it differed from the other platforms and how to take advantage of it. Brogan also did a great webinar below, it is an hour long but if you are serious about getting into the platform it is a great introduction.
What I love about Google+
1. Google Author Rank - rel=author is the single piece of code that gets me a lot of organic search traffic to my blog. There are several articles on how to get this to work for you but essentially it surfaces your Google profile picture next to any search results of web pages / blogs that you have authored - making it more visually appealing and clickable. I love this feature because although I have only been blogging a short space of time it allows my content to stand out against some of the big players and it's so easy to set up within your Google+ profile - well worth the five mins it took.
2. Communities - this is a more recent addition to the Google+ landscape but it has allowed me to make better connections on the platform, lead to me teaching myself how to use Photoshop from scratch, find a whole new online community around my team (Newcastle United) and shown me how to bake awesome Cadbury's chocolate cakes! Essentially communities are a Google+ version of the old Web Forums you used to get but organised, visually appealing and searchable, they are micro communities within the larger Google+ platform.
3. Places - Google's integration of Places and Google+ has been great, during some work I did for Mecca Bingo we actually got an internal tour done of one of their retail outlets; it's actually really cool and can be seen here. This also really helps boost it's appearance in search.
4. Hang outs - I love doing Hang Outs, I use these for work, education and in my personal life. There is talk that the Newcastle United community I am part of will be holding Hang Outs during the matches next year which I can't wait to get involved in.
5. Mobile - I think that Google+ mobile offering is by far the most stylish and user friendly. I use it on iPhone, iPad and desktop all have a great look and feel and work perfectly. I spend the majority of my time on mobile devices so having an app that I rate highly is important to me. I don't use the auto photo upload as I use different cloud based services for my pictures.
The overriding reason I am a huge fan of Google+ is that it isn't Facebook, nor does it pretend to be. You are more likely to connect to strangers and people outside of your real life friends and family (similar to Twitter in that respect.) Relationships are built around passions, interests and community. You are not littered with adverts, and long may that continue and finally my blog and other online contributions benefit from me being on the platform. For me it is case closed, care to join me?