Is Google+ a Ghost Town? 5 Reasons That Will Change Your Mind

by Jon Cilley on Apr 13, 2012

So with Google+’s new redesign and several articles that have appeared highlighting how Google+ is “dying,” maybe we should reflect on what Google+ is doing right, with perhaps the pundits looking at it through the wrong lens?

What if Google+ never needed to be Facebook, but rather exist as something more?

So you’re on Google+, and you think it’s a ghost town because your friends aren’t on it?

Well, what if I told you none of that mattered?

What if I told you, you could see what you really wanted to see; interact with what/who you really wanted to interact with; and group those interests and engagements into categories and subjects?

Well here’s five reasons how Google+ can make you forget that your friends aren’t here, while still being amazingly useful, interesting and engaging. It’s more than a social network.

1. The Search

Find People Who Share Your Interests

Use Google+’s search feature to find people you don’t know. Search for “Shared Circles” based off of your interests and add these small to large groups to fill your stream with engaging content.

When you type in an interest – let’s say “photos” – click on the “best of” tab and see what photos are popular on Google+. If you agree, add these people or pages. Maximize this feature to see what’s being written about your search term from within Google+, as well as use it as a way to connect with interesting folks.

Also, use the search feature to maximize your own brand. This entire post is one big mix of keywords (when it was originally posted on Google+) - no picking and choosing. Every word in the body of this blog was a searchable term on Google+.

So for a place that’s attributed as a ghost town, I’ve seen more no-names get their message out here faster than anywhere else. All the other social media sites focus on building up followers and then your message. Google+ is the only site where your message can exist first, and then users follow you based off of the quality and relevance of your content. This way, people follow the message, not the herd.

photos

2. The Circles

Group Into Categories

Most people coming from Facebook would view this option as a way of segregating your posts, but I’m here to say that you have it backwards.

Separate your circles based off of interests. For instance, I have a Tech, Photographer, Google, Celebrity and News circles to name a few.

Make sure that there are no repeat offenders, meaning you don’t have too many in multiple circles. This will help segregate your interests. Don’t be afraid to follow people you don’t know; add a shared circle based off of your interests; or use Google+’s search feature to find people.

So when you segregate, if you want to just see photos, you click on your photographer circle; if you want to just read tech news, you click on your tech circle, etc. In the meantime, here are five Shared Circles, containing five different groups of people/pages you should add. They’ll help jump start your stream, and actually produce content you might really want to see.

  1. Photographers
  2. Google
  3. Tech
  4. Celebrities
  5. News

3. The Stream

Control What You See

Unlike the Facebook News Feed or Twitter Feed, in Google+ you have the ability to control what content from your circles is seen in your main stream. How does this work? By using a volume control on each circle. From here, you can decide the volume of each circle and how it gets produced within your main stream. This could range from everything to nothing.

Do not underestimate the importance of the “nothing” option. To offer some more perspective on this, I have an NBA circle containing all 30 teams.

Now for me, it’s not necessary to really see anything in my overall stream regarding NBA team news, but I might at some point. So by moving the slider all the way to the left I can avoid NBA news from clogging my main stream, but view everything if I click on the specific circle.

This is incredibly helpful if you’re following a lot of people and pages. Sometimes I feel hindered from following several people on Twitter, because I’m worried about the content I really want getting diluted because of the sheer volume of people I’m following. Thanks to Google+, they resolve this dilemma.

4. The Hangout

Interact

Here’s a benefit that is pretty self explanatory. Hangout with 9 additional people in a video chat from 10 separate computers or devices. What makes this feature great are the sharing options. Screen sharing,

YouTube group video watching, games, collaborative art, and document sharing have made it to the standard Hangout feature, but “Hangout with extras” offers you the ability to view up-and-coming developments as well. So not only is this feature a great way to connect, but you can also develop it as a presentation/productivity tool.

5. The Sparks

Expand Your Knowledge

For anyone who uses Google Alerts, this is a great way to unclog your Gmail inbox and migrate this feature over to Google+.

Most people who use Google+ regularly may not even know what this feature is, but it’s a great tool to see what’s going on outside of the Google+ ecosystem or within it.

So what is a Google+ Spark?

Essentially it’s a keyword search, with any search criteria you enter into Google+’s search box possessing the ability to be saved.

When it’s saved, it loads this phrase/keyword in a list under your circles list on your stream tab. You can save the search criteria as “everything, people and pages, Google+ posts, Sparks or Hangouts.”

By saving a search to just view “Sparks,” you create a stream of recent News Articles about your search term.

So like Google Alerts, if you set up a Spark regarding Android, you could pool search results regarding recent content on the web about Android, find out if there is breaking news, or see what new products have been released.

Extremely helpful to stay on top of things you’re interested in.

So view Google+ as a way to interact with your interests, and eventually your friends. Don’t be discouraged if your friends haven’t made the journey yet – they’ll get there.

For now, take advantage of the obvious benefits that only exist here, legitimately interact with great thought leaders, and forget about your friends – Google+ isn’t going anywhere.

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Post Author

Writer and owner of The Connected Monster, a blog site devoted to Android, Apple, social media, gadgets, and other tech-related topics....

  • http://rsmithing.com/ Richard Smith

    The more I’m on Google+, the more I like it. I’ll add one more reason: social media enthusiast Jay Baer wrote that it’s a good way to connect with the über-connected, such as influencers who no longer respond to every tweet. I tried this for recent post of my own about How to Talk About Social Media In Business and sure enough, that totally worked; Jay was good enough to circle back in the comments. I also like it because of the clean layout – way easier on the eyes than, um… other social networks. Cool post, Jon!

  • Robert Worstell

    ditto – odd, isn’t it?

  • Jon Cilley

    Thanks. 

  • Jon Cilley

    Lack of interactions is what I’m told, but I’d be interested in seeing what it is for this post. 

  • http://www.prophecyimageconsulting.com/ Tony Carbon

    I always liked Google+! I like it better than FB myself. Great article, maybe folks will see it differently now. 

  • Jon Cilley

    The +1 button is alive. I notice it’s pretty competitive to the “likes” on my post.

  • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

    We saw very little interactions and link backs from G+ for quite a while. As we cover it more we have had more requests. Even though we get good use of the LinkedIn share button, it has rarely given good traffic back to the site. So we will be testing G+ for the next 60 days or so to compare and see if it produces more upside for traffic back to socialfresh.com. Thanks for requesting. Will keep everyone posted on what we see.

  • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

    We will test it for 60 days and see what happens. 

  • http://grantmcwilliams.com Grant McWilliams

    And then what, you’ll take it off? LOL. 

  • http://itinfoz.com/ Navin

    the plus one directly effects on SERP also improve google indexing time. thanks for awesome post.