3 ways to get more out of Google+ this year.

Google+. It’s sort of the odd-ball of social media. It’s something I’d love to get a little more footing but it also can’t just replace Facebook (unless Facebook finally self-destructs by not showing anything in your feed unless you pay them to see each post).

+Heather Elizabeth posted today saying she’d like to get to know G+ more and how she wasn’t sure what even exists in terms of communities and such. My reply was that G+ communities are pretty spammy still. Most people I’ve found on G+ are here to do one thing and one thing only—promote their businesses or become an authority of a subject, by which they spam article reposts as if they were photos in Instagram. Scroll *TAP* Scroll *TAP* Scroll *TAP* (That’s the sound of my scrolling through liking all of the photos in my feed).

I took a bit of a sabbatical from using G+ around December just because life got too busy. But being back, I notice little things that can really help people get more out of the network. Let’s face it, most photographers know they HAVE to be here right now. It’s like when I used to teach Speech 101 at my old university… everyone has to take it, no one wants to be there. So here’s a few tips to make it a place you might want to hang out in:

  1. Comment on people’s photos and posts. I think people have become accustomed with hitting “Like” or the “♥”  button that we don’t bother commenting on things. I rarely comment on Facebook. When they added their scrolling feed updater that tells everyone when you’ve liked or commented on a post on Facebook makes me so self-conscious that I avoid doing much on there these days. However, on G+, I don’t worry so much about every person I follow seeing that I’m liking something. I’ve gotten some great new friends like +JK Blackwell through commenting on their posts and photos. So yeah—don’t be afraid to comment. This isn’t a place where your comments get lost in feed and you can connect with some really talented and interesting people.
  2. Post original photos, links to original content, and explain in your posts why people should look or care. As I dig through tons of posts on G+, the ones that actually draw me in are ones where I’m being talked to, not where information is thrown at me. Posting linkbait is part of the game, I get it, but don’t treat it like Twitter. Most people’s goals are to show up in Google search results as an authority and you’re going to look a ton better having posts with interactions and +1’s rather than a static link thrown onto your feed. Seriously. My feed is typically link boxes without any reason for me to click through other than a tiny thumbnail from your blog.
  3. Participate in conversations in the communities—quit with the linkbaiting. Communities are one of the bigger disappointments so far in G+ and I’m not sure what the fix is exactly. I started one group on a lark this past year and it’s gradually grown quite a bit for having never promoted it anywhere. We’ve had some discussions in the group but nowhere what people used to have in places like Flickr or even in Facebook groups. There’s only one way to really resolve this—participate. My group suffers from the “Look at my picture!” problem… people post a photo, no information about the image, why they’re sharing the image, what they want out of sharing the image… so it sits there. So I promise to keep trying to post relevant and conversational things…and cross my fingers others will, too.

I can’t say for sure if G+ has longevity at this point, but there’s just so much importance for all of us to be there, we may as well treat it well and enjoy the time we’re spending there.

And a shot to leave you with, one of my favorite black-and-white snapshots from one of my favorite little places in Florida that probably very few people ever see.

cows in a pasture dark clouds florida with barbed wire

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