Google+. A lot of Kenyans online are not actively on it. Any time I bring it up in an appropriate situation, people brush it off. Those on it are simply so because they have a Gmail account, not because they log into it and engage in activities within it. Well, I am here to tell you this: you are missing out. Jump on the Google+ bandwagon now. I am not marketing, neither am I exaggerating, I am just giving it to you straight.
By the way, Google has some major issues, from why it should go into your email to show you ads that are in line with the subject of your private messages to those hours it decides (let me have this one, Grammar Nazis) it will not transmit emails for hours. (This happened a few days ago.)
I’ll begin with the reasons you should be on Google+ as an individual, even when you’re not a blogger.
- The amount of information you get on Google+, especially if you circle based on your interests is amazing. You can choose to view information just from a particular circle on your stream. Say you have this insatiable interest in programming, all you need to do is follow relevant authorities in the subject and place them in a particular circle with a name that tickles your fancy. Even if you don’t, there is the What’s Hot feature that displays trends and everything awesome on that particular day among Google Plusers. (Update: Today, there is a tab titled Explore where you can search out all you want and get related searches while at it.)
- When you are really bored in the office, just visit Google+ and I promise you will laugh through the afternoon. Of course you have to follow the right pages to see the hilarious gifs. (I love the cat ones for obvious reasons.) There are specific pages dedicated to everything funny.
- Hangouts. Okay, Facebook has chat and video too but who else lets you have a group video chat for free? Only Google Hangouts. Plus it is integrated with everything Google, from Gmail to Youtube to Google Drive so you can share so much in one joint. Say you want to send a Youtube video link while you chat but can’t remember the url, just search for it right on the hangout and send!
- The Android experience is definitely not complete without a Google+ profile. I am not a fan of having my background data on (unless there’s free Wi-Fi around) or sharing too many pictures online but if you are, you can use the Auto Backup feature, allowing all your photos and videos to be uploaded to a private album after which you can share at your disposal.
- Google+’s cover photo is so much more awesome than Facebook’s and Twitter’s. I am just saying. If you are a budding photographer (a legit one), this where you can show off your work really well. The notification system is also quite subtle. A bell icon is visible in every Google platform with a number depending on how many notifications you have. Click on a particular notification and you can perform an action (e.g. comment on a post or circle someone) right there, without having to open a page to do it. (Update: The Google+ cover photo was toned down to one that fades out behind your profile photo.)
Now for the part I am really passionate about, for all you bloggers and companies seeking a strong web presence out here. I started this blog in 2011, just to share my thoughts about random things. Google+ came on later and I got in when it was accessible by invite only. I didn’t see much to write home about. But that is the thing about new products and services in the technology world, you have to give them time. So I did. I integrated my Google+ profile with Blogger and much later, used Google+ comments on my posts.
Little did I know that I was giving my blog the boost it needed in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So much so that most of the things I have written about in these two years end up on the first page on Google search results from a wide range of search criteria. And this is how Google+ does it (directly or indirectly):
Post anything on a popular topic and Google+ adds a hashtag to it automagically, with no effort on your part. As such, people will see your post alongside a list of related posts they flip through on the social network. Like this particular post will be automatically shared with #Google+. Automagic it is! (Oh. I just recently learnt how to use the word automagic and its derivatives so you have to understand my excitement.)
Integrating Google+ with your blog is a great plus, literally speaking. A comment, a reshare or a +1 automatically gives your post more visibility on Google’s search results. Do I need to go into the details of why you need to be visible on Google? It’s their social network so obviously they promote posts made on Google+ better than those on Facebook or anywhere else. Provided you have the right content for your target audience, then you will definitely find your page up there. Grab the opportunity to write while everyone is sleeping through the Web revolution. I can assure you that a lot of what makes Kenya is waiting to be published online, people are just not serious about it.
Just being on Google+ (and being in circles) gives your content enough credibility in the following ways:
- One, it shows the number of people who have you in circles. If you have a good number, you will obviously appear like an authority of some sort (whether you are one or not).
- Two, an image on a search result is bound to grab the attention of the searcher, especially if you are really photogenic or simply know how to pose ;).
- Three, you are well on your way to establishing a personal brand in cyberspace as you are finally appearing everywhere relevant as an information source. This guy here explains it so well.
WordPress Got It Too!
You will have to verify your email address on Google+ to seal the deal. The whole process, including linking your profile to your content is known as Google Authorship.
Even WordPress realized they were doing the world of blogging wrong by not having Google+ as part of its integrated features. Now, an author can log into WordPress with his/her Google+ account and automatically share a post and get Google+ details displayed.
There is a wealth of Google+ I have not explored. I will as days go by and it morphs into something more awesome. See? You are missing out. Become a Google Pluser today, or at least start a page for your company.