The Dark Mysteries of Google+
I hear so many photographers saying "I don't really understand Google+".
And I was one of those souls until recently. I spent a day or two looking into Google+ and tried to navigate my way around, and that seemed pretty daunting in itself. Once I'd got used to it though I started to see some of the benefits. I should point out at this juncture that I am NO expert, but these are some of the things I have discovered are a benefit for myself as a photographer in G+.
Is it better than Facebook?
This is the question I hear more than any other. Well, yes......and no!!
They are 2 completely different beasts, and to my mind have 2 different functions. True the general public do not use it anywhere near as much as Facebook.
At this point many of you will switch off as you believe, as I did, that the only people I need to speak to are the general public, after all they are the ones that I work for and they are the ones paying my hugely inflated energy bills! Ok, that may be true once again, and at this point it's not looking good for G+. But think about that name Google+. The important part of that name is GOOGLE. There's a reason we all get inundated with spam email wanting to help us get onto page one of Google, more successful searches = more website hits = hopefully more work. So thinking plainly, Google must love their own product right? And so they do, it appears that Google+ can go a long way to improving your website SEO. Google does not bother with searches within Facebook or Twitter, but it does very nicely in Google products, and in particular Google+.
I will still use Facebook to communicate with my general public customers, but I want to move to G+ as much as I possibly can.
Have you noticed the truly awful rendering that is Facebook pictures? Their compression methods when uploading images can crucify an amazing picture into a truly awful one. Granted posting as TIFF or PNG and tampering with settings may improve the quality, but that's a hassle we none of us want.
I can't tell you the technical aspects of it, but images on G+ look amazing. Add to that the option to enhance them further once uploaded; G+ gives the photographer a tremendous platform to display their pride and joys.
The above shot is a screen grab from a zoomed in (Zooming into an image is a feature available in G+)
I am currently trying to get into the habit of loading my images to G+ and then posting a link to them on Facebook. Hopefully that will have a two fold effect of A) utilising the very best image quality experiences available online to my customers, and B) increasing traffic to my Google area, and possibly boosting my SEO credentials.
Another screen grab, this time showing the tools available in the image viewing module of G+.
Unlike Facebook, where you need to be actually in a group, or on a page, or indeed in your own profile area, G+ makes it possible to share to any person, circle, community or the public in general from any point within G+. So from here it is possible to share the image anywhere in G+ without leaving the page.
What must be remembered though is that only the people following you, or that have you in their circles will be able to view your post. It is also possible to make your post sharable or unshareable. This means that you choose if the recipients can repost your message further, or not.
The edit button gives the user a chance to further enhance the image if the wish (this is currently only available on Google Chrome).
The slideshow is another nice feature. It sends your screen into full screen mode with a back background. Viewers can then watch the slideshow or tab through the images in that particular album at their leisure.
Other features include auto enhance, rotate, crop and delete.
Have you ever uploaded images to Facebook and realised you would like to reorganise your albums? Maybe you have upload a series of images into the wrong album? Well, with G+ you can move your images from Album to Album. It is even possible to load images to G+ without having to publish them. A typical example if images from your phone. With the G+ App you can auto upload your images to Google+. This is done in the background, and doesn't publish to your G+ profile.
While we are on about images, it is worthwhile captioning your Album or images. Why? Well, it's that SEO thing again! I also now add locations to albums and individual images (when I remember!). If I do this from our office it means that our office location (searchable on Google and Google Maps) appears with the image.
For my mind one of the best features of G+. It combines the best elements of the traditional forum with the best elements of Facebook Groups. Unlike Facebook it is possible to have sections for different areas of discussion. And with Google operating it, needless to say the ability to search the entire Community is both quick and thorough.
Some recommended Google Communities
Business Pages are much like Facebook Pages. If you think of your page as being an SEO business listing. Always bear in mind that any posts or pictures on your Page are searchable within Google, so make sure your content is appropriate and SEO friendly (lots of words, captions and links, but don't over do it). Google+ allows only you to post to your page, guests or followers can only post comments to your posts on your page, and that is only if you allow them to. It is best to claim your business as a "Local" Business page rather than any other type. Firstly get your business listed on Google Maps via Google places. This may take some time as Google want to verify that you are a bone fide business, and that you own the business at that address. This could be via an email, or a code text to you. However, on occasions it maybe that they will post a code out to you, and this an take up to weeks to get delivered.
It is possible to create a Business page in another section, but you will most likely lose the SEO benefits of not registering your business as local. It is currently not possible to combine a business page with a local business page, although I believe that is due to change, and apparently very soon.
Although not strictly G+ it is still part of the Google family. Google has integrated being able to utilise Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google+ and a host of other utilities accessible from your one Google Account. I use Mac for my email and calendars and it's nice that the calendar gets backed up to iCloud, but unfortunately my emails don't. Should something untoward happen to my principle computer I run the risk of losing my emails. To counter this I backup my emails to Google Mail. By going into the accounts section of Google Mail it is possible to set GMail to accept your company emails, for example firstname.lastname@example.org, whilst leaving a copy on the mail server
I get confused with sending my emails from my phone. Sometimes I have to turn off the WiFi to allow it to send via my phone link. Well you can send emails from your GMail account as your company email. It doesn't look very professional if you are sending an email to your customer and it happens to arrive to them as email@example.com. It would look far better coming from firstname.lastname@example.org and that is now possible by adding your "mycompany" details into GMail settings.
AND FINALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY..........I haven't had a single game request from anyone!! :-)
I hope you have found this brief insight into Google+ useful
Thank you for reading