This is part one of a three part series about what makes Google+ so great for bloggers. For today's post, I asked +Elaina Newton of the delicious foodie blog The Rising Spoon to tell you about why she loves Google+. She has a big love for G+ — and a big following to match! On Tuesday we'll hear from Nickie O'Hara of Geekalicious, and on Wednesday, I'm going to finish off the trilogy with my somewhat-geekier reasons for loving Google+.
If you're like most people today, you either don't know much about Google Plus or you simply don't care. You may have read that Google Plus is an empty, abandoned social network. This is far from the truth.
Google Plus is home to a thriving community of interactive, responsive members. I can personally attest to this because I am an active plusser (that's the term google plus users affectionately label themselves). As a relatively new Real Food blogger and enthusiast nerd, I've managed to build a decent number of quality connections in the eight months I've been using Google Plus. In that time, I've grown a moderately sized network of like-minded individuals using circles.
As of now I have about 1,400+ people circled (meaning I follow them, so they show up in my stream) and over 4,000 people have me in their circles. I achieved this by posting a mix of original and topical content and asking a lot of questions. Most importantly, I consistently liked (Google Plus calls it +1), shared and commented on other plussers' posts.
While the main focus used to be on circles, it recently shifted when Google Plus implemented their communities feature. In essence, they are user created groups centered around specific niches. It's hands down the fastest and easiest way to connect directly with knowledgable and interesting people.
Right now, I'm a part of 18 communities that have thousands of members and vary in focus from cooking, writing, art, craft beer, science fiction, sustainable living and social networking. There's a community for practically any topic or activity you can imagine. Within these communities, I actively participate in four and am a moderator for two.
It would be an understatement to say that I love Google Plus. It goes much further than that. I owe its users so much for all they've taught me about blogging and expanding my content. If I hadn't discovered all the wonderful foodies, bloggers (especially Marie) and professional chefs on Google Plus when I first started my blog, it would have taken me three or four times longer to progress to where I am today.
So when I see online journalists and bloggers hastily creating profiles, barely using the social network and then making snap judgements that no one uses Google Plus...well, that doesn't sit right with me.
Keeping it Real
You can't just sign up, create a threadbare profile, use it a few times and expect to get the full experience. It requires a smidgen more dedication than that. Especially since Google Plus isn't your average social network. You're not just consuming information. You're interacting with others, starting conversations and building relationships. That's why I like it so much.
It's an amalgamation of both Facebook and Twitter's best qualities, plus new features exclusive to Google. Imagine a new social network that favors visual media, but also encourages lengthy posts that inform readers and facilitate conversations. A stream that updates constantly, is searchable by keyword, shows you trending topics and has no character limits. A network with a strong sense of community and high level of interactivity. A place where content creators, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, ranging from professionals to amateurs, can connect, share information and build communities based on common interests.
This is Google Plus today. But it's still changing and growing. Unlike other social networks, Google actively responds to feedback from its users. And it thrives on adapting and experimenting with current versions of its products in order to meet the public's demands. So do yourself a favor and give Google Plus a chance. Start by creating a solid profile. Do this by uploading a genuine picture, flesh out your "About" section with a few personal details and start searching for people who have things in common with you. It won't take long to find awesome individuals who will gladly start up a conversation. Heck, I give you a personal invitation to circle and seek me out.