Circles are a feature of Google+ that allow you to organise your connections in the same way you organise your life: we have groups of friends, colleagues, family, readers, publishers, agents, clients etc. You can create a Circle for any group of people, then you can read their Google+ posts and write yours, sending them only to a specific Circle. Remember others can see the name of the Circle – so be polite!
This is different from Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn, where your posts go to everyone. Google+ is a way to organise the people in your life and the communication you want to send them.
How to use circles to promote your book
- Identify the top 25+ people who could help you to reach your goals as an author. Connect with them on Google+. Just like Twitter, this is a one way connection and you don’t need their permission to connect. Organise them into Circles, for example, Writers, Publishers, Agents, Publicists, etc.
- Connect with them on a regular basis. Remember you can tailor your posts depending who you are targeting
- Page owners can get post performance analytics through the Google+ Insights tool, located in the My Business dashboard and you can find the people who re-shared your post by looking at the "activity on this post".
- Just like Twitter and Facebook you can add hashtags # to your posts to help people search for relevant posts
- You can tag your connections on posts as well
- Like other social media you can include videos and images etc.
- Your posts can be any length, but that doesn’t mean longer is better. Generally the opposite is true.
- Unlike the other social networks you can format your posts – bold, italic, etc.
- Members of a Circle can’t see who the other members are
A few ideas for authors
You could post a draft of a chapter and send it only to connections in a specific Circle for their feedback.
Publicise book tour dates, blogs, reviews, media clippings, pictures of you at your launch or a signing.
Upload a free chapter or offer a free short story – to entice new readers.
Also see the other social media sections for more ideas, and see ‘Generating Content’
As your confidence builds try out some of the options that Google+ has to offer. The information below will explain each one and help you make most the most of them.
One of the most popular features of Google+ is ‘hangouts’.
Learn more about Hangouts here: https://hangouts.google.com/
A Hangout is basically a group video chat – that is both super simple, and free. You can include up to 10 people at a time in a Hangout Party
Learn more about Hangout Parties here: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1215273?hl=en
For example, you could hold a reading – with people all over the world. Or connect with a Book Club and hold a chat just for them.
If you want to reach more than 10 people then a Hangout On Air, which allows you to stream your video on both Google+ and YouTube. People can watch it on either platform, and Google+ records the video and sends it you via email.
Keeping up to date using dashboard
You may already be familiar with using Google Alerts to keep track of mentions of your name or book title on the Internet. By creating a Dashboard in Google+ you can get even more information.
A Google+ dashboard is simply a group of searches you can save. Google+ will deliver the results to your Google+ profile – this allows you to see them all in one central location.
You can also bookmark articles you read on the Internet by clicking on the +1 button. Google then saves the article to your Google+ profile.
As an author, identify the essential topics you need to know about (including mentions of you and your book), create searches for them, save them, and check on them regularly within your Google+ dashboard.
Social search increases your visibility
Google+ has a useful feature known as Social Search (or more recently within Google, ‘Search plus Your World’) – this means that anyone who has you in their Circles will see your results high up in any Google.com search they perform. It’s this combination of both social and search engine optimization (SEO) that makes Google+ a social network worth engaging with.
So as an author make sure to add the people you’d like to reach (e.g. publisher, agents, influential book reviewers, journalists etc.) to your Circles. In all likelihood, many of them with reciprocate by adding you to their Circles. This means they will start to see your posts, not only in Google+, but also in Google.com when they’re searching.
You can add a personal touch to those search results by ensuring your photo appears next to your website and Google+ post links. You simply connect your Google+ account with the home page of your website. This single action tells Google+ you’re a real person so they (Google) will begin displaying your photo next to your search results.
For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_search
Blogging and Google+
Google+ can replace a blog as there is no limit to the length of your posts. However it is still advisable to have a standalone Blog (LINK TO BLOGGING ON TBB) and this should be your aim. If you are unable to do this, then Google+ is a good substitute.
You can post your writing / blog / articles on Google+ with a catchy intro, you can format it to make it attractive and easy to read, you can add photos, and you can send your writing to specific Circles.
If you already have a blog, then use Google+ to promote your latest blog post. Write a catchy headline within Google+ and simply link to your blog post. This way you get a double Search Engine Optimisation benefit as your blog appears on both your own blog and Google+.
Remember to make your posts public, and include relevant keywords.
Using Google+ Local to help promote your book
Google considers all business to be local. This can be an opportunity for authors as often a local connection will help sell your book. People (readers, shops, reading groups etc.) like a local connection, so you can use Google+ Local to make those local connections.
In addition if you write about a specific local area (even if you don’t live there) then use Google+ local to tap into this area too, by creating a Google+ Local page.
A Google+ local page is a business page with a map, hours, directions, and the expected information for a bricks and mortar location. Although this is probably irrelevant if you are a FICTION writer, for NON FICTION and business writers this can be very helpful as the Google+ Local page can bring publicity to your writing and the organisation behind it.
One of the advantages of a Google+ local page is that Google serves up those results first when anyone does a local search.
In other words you’ll appear in Google+ and in Google searches.
People (readers) can post reviews on your Local page.
It’s recommended to include keywords in the ‘from owner’ section.
Include a photo – everyone likes to know who they are connecting with!
Although aimed at small businesses, these are also ideal for authors and books.
Google+ pages interact in the Google+ world similar to the way that regular Google+ profile owners do.
- Pick the Google+ page category that you want to create.
- Click Pages.
- Place your cursor in the top left corner for the Google+ main menu.
- Click the Create a page button in the top right.
- Click the Create button.
Just like Facebook Pages, Google+ Pages can have multiple managers. https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2380625
After you’ve created your page, follow the dialogues to set up the details of your profile and let others know about your new page.
You can then use Google+ as yourself or as your Page (just like Facebook).
You might choose to create an author page, and/or a page for each book. The choice is yours – you can have more than one Page.
Make sure you:
- complete your profile - nothing looks worse than a lazily completed profile with missing information
- upload professional images for your cover and profile photos – low quality photos will damage your brand and the perception of the quality of your book
- post regular updates
- #hashtag keywords and topics to help people find / search specific topics
- mix some fun, personal updates (that show you are a real human being) with your ‘promotional’ updates. Keep it interesting and relevant to your audience
Next: Social sharing buttons