Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
To me, Google+ has always been something of an enigma. I’ve had a Google+ account for at least a few years, and am a die-hard Gmail user, but I never could figure out how or why to use the social network. I’m not, by nature, a rabid social media user, period, so arguably I was a tougher sell than some. So when Angela Craft, our marketing and publicity manager, came on board in April of this year, singing the praises of what she described as the fastest-growing social network, I was a bit guarded. And yes, I have since been proven wrong.
Angela has been working closely with representatives from Google Hangouts to put together online book-related events in a big way. Since Google is populated by employees with (obviously crazy impressive) technological know-how and an equally stellar marketing approach, the result of Diversion as a digital-only publisher working with them has been exciting and innovative, quick-moving and metric-results-driven.
I asked Angela to share a bit more about the whole concept of the Google Hangout, how we’re applying it with some of our authors, and a few key points on how best to utilize the social network and the almighty tool that is video.
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Since the debut of YouTube in 2005, video has constantly been heralded as “the next big thing” on the Internet. It has taken its time, but with the ubiquity of smart phones with quality cameras, the era of video on the web is finally here. Vine, with its six-second videos, has been a hit for Twitter, and popular photo site Instagram (owned by web-behemoth Facebook) has its own video option now. Skype introduced the concept of the video call to the masses, and recently more and more services are clamoring to provide web video chat services, especially those that can be streamed live to an audience. Video truly is the big thing right now, but when it comes to web services, is there any bigger name out there than Google?
Google of course already owns YouTube, but in 2011 when they introduced their new social platform Google+, they also introduced a then-innovative video chat feature, the Hangout. While many services now rival, and even surpass, some of the Hangout’s technical features, it’s still a supremely useful tool, as we learned at Diversion Books when looking for a unique promotional opportunity for our authors Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola. Greg and Amiira’s latest book, It’s Just a F***ing Date, was published shortly before the blog 40 Days of Dating began to take the internet by storm. When I reached out to Timothy Goodman and Jessica Walsh of the blog to ask if they would be interested in a Hangout with Greg and Amiira, they put me in contact with a member of Google+’s marketing team, and from there it’s been a whirlwind of a process working with all involved to hold an exciting online event, where the bicoastal parties involved can come together in a way that would otherwise be impossible.
Google+ currently boasts more than 500 million registered users, putting it second only to Facebook. And unlike Facebook, the culture of Google+ encourages users to seek each other out based on mutual interests, rather than past or present real life connections. This gives book marketers and individual authors an advantage on Google+, as users on Google+ expect to be followed (or circled, in G+ vocabulary) by people they don’t already know, and are seeking out new contacts on their own, as well. With the Hangout on Air option, which we are utilizing this Friday with Greg and Amiira, Hangouts can not only be watched live, but are also archived on YouTube – the second largest search engine (behind only Google itself!), making your content that much easier for users to find. And since Google+ is eager to support innovative uses of their platform (like teaming up bestselling authors with viral internet stars), we’ve received great support from their technical and marketing teams, which has led to an explosion of interactions on our Google+ overnight. We started the week in fewer than 50 Circles – by Thursday morning we were being followed by over 1000 Google+ users! If there was ever any doubt about whether there are people on Google+ or if it’s a ghost town, this week has proven that the users are there, and they’re eager for new and innovative content.
In closing, here are five tips on how best to utilize Google+ in book promotion:
1. Fill out your profile completely. Having a robust Google+ profile, including a photo, bio, and list of websites you contribute to (even if it’s just your own blog), has a demonstrable impact on search results.
2. Search for your interests. Use Google+’s search just like you would Google’s and search for keywords relating to topics you’re interested in. You’ll find individual users and even whole communities dedicated to almost everything you can think of!
3. Experiment with Circles. Google+’s privacy options are infinite with customizable circles. Obviously most of your content should be public so new users can see what you’re talking about, but private circles mean an authors can share pictures of their kids just with friends rather than the entire internet, without needing a separate profile. Marketers can create an Authors Only circle to share links that will be of special interest to their own authors.
4. Use Hashtags. Just like Twitter, and now Facebook, Hashtags are big on Google+, and Google will even add them automatically to your post if you’re talking about something popular enough. Regular weekly hashtags include #WordlessWednesday #CoffeeThursday and, of course, #Caturday.
5. Use Hangouts on Air. Record live chats and interviews that can be archived and searchable on Youtube. Make guest appearances in online book clubs, or start your own. The sky’s the limit on this one!