My worlds are finally colliding. This week, as I prepared to write this post, one of my local friends and Facebook contacts asked a question about Google+. Specifically, she wondered if the platform was worth her time as a homeschool podcaster since she noticed a lot of active groups in her niche.
I answered with a resounding yes! And I’m willing to bet there are more dyed in the wool Facebook users just like her that will be making the switch over to Google Plus in the coming months. As marketers, we need to be prepared to write for and engage users on this social platform.
Writing for Google Plus – What’s Different?
When it comes to features Google+ has the basics that you’d expect from any social network with a few added perks. Although there’s a lot attention paid to Hangouts, there are some writing specific features that make writing for the Google Plus audience a unique experience.
At its launch, Google Plus claimed that it could house unlimited length updates (although testing has shown that it tops out somewhere around 100,000 words). But even still, that’s a lot of space to play with. Rather being limited to just 140 characters, Google+ allows you to write full length posts or even portions of white papers. This opens up your options for post length and variety. For the record, in response to Google+’s post lengths, Facebook also increased its post limit to around 65,000 words late last year.
With that many words to work with, you need some formatting to break up the content into bite-sized chunks. Fortunately, Google+ has got you covered in this department as well. There’s a whole host of formatting features to make your updates pop.
- To make a word bold, place an asterisk on both sides of it. *I am a bold* becomes I am bold.
- To make a word italicized, place an underscore on both sides of it. _I am italicized becomes I am italicized.
- To strikethrough a word, surround it like hyphens. –I am struck through- becomes I am struck through.
Bullets can also help break up text. To create bullet points you can press Alt + 7 on you keyboard to create a black dot, or Alt + 9 to create a white circle dot. In fact, any of the special ALT codes on this list can be used when you create your Google+ updates.
This isn’t a writing feature exactly, but it does affect the way that you write on Google+ and your level of engagement. Facebook has groups and Twitter has lists but neither of them compare to the power of circles. With circles you control who sees what, so you can control which messages are going to which individuals. The segmentation is all in your hands so you can get really specific with your sharing and writing.
Curating and sharing content to specific circles is a given. But you can also reshare the same content to several circles and change the message up a bit. For example, when I’m sharing a new blog post from my Windmill Column, I might share it to my marketing circles with a more professional intro. With my “Biz Friends” circle, I’d be more casual and post a “Hey – check out my latest post.”
Search Engine Terms
Finally, your writing on Google Plus can help you engage search engine audiences. Ranking for search terms in your Google+ posts can sometimes be a lot easier than on your website or current blog. That’s why it’s important to work with a short list of keywords and integrate them into your posts frequently – without being too much of a keyword spammer.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get creative. In next month’s column, I’ll be looking at making the most of these Google Plus specific features to maximize your engagement. Have any tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below and you can be featured in next month’s column.