Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Why I use Google Plus aka Stop your moaning about a free service changing - they owe nothing to you!

So obviously there has been a ton of vitriol over Google+ recently,  in particular how it has now been used as a the comment engine for Youtube. Of course this anger (internet fury no less) has spilled over to every other social network, and of course that means places like Facebook and Tumblr. It also means the classic catchphrase “Google Plus is a ghost town” pops up.
“In reality, according to a study made by the Global Web Index it turns out that Google Plus is actually the second largest social network with over 359 million monthly active users.”
That is a big number, because people are using the embedding Google+ id you have for your gmail, to access their photo hosting services, Google Drive, and many more other things than just a place to post memes and wax lyrical about how some company changed a service you don’t pay for.
"For the results I am using Google Analytics and am looking at a two-month period for more consistent results:
  • Average visit duration – That has to be the metric where Google Plus really shines in comparison with Facebook. Whereas visitors from Facebook spend 3 minutes and 53 seconds on average when they land on Reviewz N Tips, Google Plus users stay 6 minutes and 20 seconds on average. Now that’s an almost three minutes of difference – quite a number!
  • New visits – Facebook wins that one with a value of 59.34%. The new visits from Google Plus on the other hand are lower with almost 14% and come at 45.65%. You might look at this from a positive angle as well though. Although Google’s platform seems to deliver less new visitors, it might be an indicator of more loyal visitors, who don’t just come and go.
  • Bounce rate – Lower bounce rate means that visitors engage with your blog and don’t leave from the same page they landed on. And that is another win for Google Plus – 67.63 compared to Facebook’s relatively high value of 77.64%.
So what it turns out?
Based on the above observations, it seems like Google Plus is actually a pretty good place to get proper engagement and quality traffic that doesn’t simply flow from one side to only leave from the other without any interaction.”
I can support this too. The engagement on my G+ posting compared to Facebook or Tumblr is far superior. People actually comment. Plus the right sorts of people comment. I get feedback. And if I get trolled, well I can block and report people.  That is because G+ has asymmetric interaction. I can post  stuff publicly or to select people. People can follow me, and see my public stuff, and I don’t have to follow them. G+ supports hastags. And it has communities, that you set up and just share to. Plus it is integrated  with what was once called Picasa (which is why a lot of photographers like using G+ as the photo hosting is good).
All of these things above are why G+ to me is a great social network, and not a ghost town (I have more followers there than here or Facebook, and a good number of them are writers in the industry I am a fan of). It also means the podcast I host has a greater, and better, interaction with our listeners.
In a lot of ways Google+ has element of Tumblr (funny pictures and it natively supports animated gifs unlike Facebook), has circles and asymmetric sharing and interaction (like Livejournal had, and Facebook copied), you can use hash tags and make quick updates and check ins (like Twitter and Tumblr). But the main thing is for me G+ is a social network I interact more with - because I am interacting with not the people I know in real life, but who are making meaningful contributions  and comments on the things  I am interested in. It means what I go to look for there is not what I go to look for on Facebook or on Twitter or on Tumblr.
Now for the kicker. Youtube. Recently, before the comment update. I imported the podcast I host to Youtube. This meant I wanted to make a Youtube channel. I started with my own personal channel, unlinked my G+ account from it, made the channel so that both I and my co-hosts could manage it, and that the channel was linked to the G+ page for the podcast (so pages are more like corporate pages that are co managed by different  G+ users). End result? I can in fact comment on Youtube videos as either myself, or under the guise of the Youtube channel.
My point with all this is that there are a lot of myths out there about G+, and how it works, who is using it, how big it is. For me personally it has led to a lot more engagement from the people who are into the same sort of niche things that I am into. G+, with my podcast page, podcast community for our listeners, linked to our Youtube for the channel, and the blogger page for the channel, has meant for a seamless interaction between myself and our listeners at all levels.
So while change is difficult, and change can be annoying, and in your own little world, where you are famous for 5 minutes because you post videos using a service - which you don’t pay for - you may not see the initial benefits. However, they are there, and there  are fun and interesting things you can do, if you are willing to cut through the media hype and myths.

- Chris

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