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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rules For Engagement - Google Plus: What Is It, Why We Should Want It, and How Do We Use It?

A primer for the rest of us... but first, some upcoming news: 

 December 10 - 16, I will be part of a major bloghop that I am so excited to host and promote some favorite authors!
 I'll have guest posts and reviews and giveaways of ...drumroll please...
SIX romance books! 

Click on the covers to go to the authors' sites for excerpts and more of their works: 

Um... so ... yes.  I've been MIA .
 And I have to plead: ....

Because that's where I've been lately.    
Look familiar? 

I think every time Google Plus does an update of any kind (which is pretty frequently), 
the avi changes. Here's the latest, but don't get too used to it - it'll probably change again by the end of the year. 
And therein lies just one of the secrets to using Google +....
Don't let yourself get too used to anything, because it will change and improve and morph into a different form in the space of three or four weeks.

This image has remained pretty constant though -- 
the multicolored Google + with its Circles. 

I've had the privilege to visit the Google offices in Atlanta, and guess what? The multicolor theme carries through on to their walls and furnishings. It's an all encompassing concept that we're going to be absorbing into our own lives, wallets, and phones in the near future. 

Forget dystopia and staggering zombies.... 
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are named Apple, Android, Facebook, and Google +

But I digress.... 

This is a post for the rest of us. Those of us who are trying our best to stay current with the latest in social media, which is -  for now - Google +. 
The above statement can now be edited for accuracy, because mashable has just reported on Twitter's new design. But again, I digress....

So.... what is it, why do I want it, and how do I use it? 

Google Plus is international, target specific, engaging and immediate. Something interesting + Robert Scoble called "seeing affordance," as opposed to that Twitter redesign... but I'll get to that in a bit. 
First, the primer I promised. 

Since YouTube is a tab-app on G+ (yes, I made up that word 'tab-app' - sound geeky? Good.) first take the time to check out this video on the purpose of circles. Or... you can read my boring speculative on the inspiration for the Google + circles below. You choose: 

My boring speculative history lesson (really not so boring, but that's just my humble opinion):

Back about two years ago, probably a bit more, Austin Chang and Alex Chung (both MTV alum) co-founded The Fridge social network.
Based on your refrigerator.
Uh-huh. Check it out:
Now, these guys were trying to put context into Facebook's overreaching sharing concept - you don't really need to know all about a 'friend' whose daughter just got her braces taken off, do you? Yet, you would like to be there for her if this friend's daughter publishes a best seller or marries George Clooney, right?

Or... to put it more in the college student social networker's mind these guys were marketing to... you don't want your mom to know what you did and who was with you when you did it over that spring break trip to Cozumel, so ...
You put those specific Cozumel friends in a specific Fridge container where your mom won't be able to read and see the pictures.
You put them in a specific Google + circle. 

And that's how it works.

When you open your account, put my name - Pamela V. Mason - in the search bar and say Hello....
I'll say hello back of course, but more important, I'll share my circles with you.
Which would you like? My authors...?
Well, I have romance authors, erotic romance authors, paranormal and horror writers, science fiction, Novel Publicity, and Writer's Platform. These are all different circles of the various writers I have - oh! almost forgot! I also have a general 'Writers and Reviewers' and then I have shared circles of authors from specific friends....

See how this all works?

When I have a post about my friend +Missy Tippens' (use the + sign to highlight a person's name so they're alerted to the post) new release, my horror writer friends are not as enthusiastic about the inspirational romance she writes as say... my sweet romance or Writers' Platform circled friends are.
And by the same turn, when my horror writer friends post instructions on how to zombify one's avatar pic, I doubt my insp'y friends are going to jump on that bandwagon.

On Facebook, about 99% of my posts are public. The ability to post to specific lists of friends is there,yes, but somehow I let all my friendships run away without the benefit of categorizing them. And then too, I have the habit of posting pithy observations and mundane events with my friends there who share and understand the mundane everyday taptaptapping of a writer ( or rather the bangbangbanging of my head on the desk).

On Google +, I have the ability to post to "Public", "My Circles," and "Extended Circles," as well as name the specific circles that post pertains to. Like, mashable.com's news on Twitter's redesign would post to my "Social Media Circle", and to "Extended Circles" which extends my post to members of their circles, making my reach ever wider.

A word about extended circles: post wisely. I used to post to extended circles frequently until one day I reached someone who... well, let's just say he was having a bad day. Now, people on Google + don't mince words. Instead of him just blocking me - something I do frequently every day all the time on G+ -  this person told me to stop posting to extended circles because he didn't want to be in my circles and didn't choose to be in my circles and therefore did not care for my posts to show in his conversation stream.
He was minimally polite.

'Sokay-- I blocked him.
I could use a more colorful expression here, but I think you're all supplementing my words effectively enough in your own minds, so I am demonstrating my respect for you as a reader.

Here on Google + the culture is not the same as on Facebook, where blocking is considered a cruel, cold, heartless, friendless exile.
There are so many cultures, so many different personalities and people from various parts of the world, that it's simply not possible (or prudent) to circle them all. Today I blocked a man from Casablanca and another from Prague (whose profile pic was of him pointing & firing a machine gun at me).
And sorry, but if you're on the other side of the world and I don't speak the same language or share common experiences or even one person with you, I'm going to block you.
Blocking takes that person out of my circles... that person cannot see me any longer, cannot comment, but can see my public posts.
I could choose to simply 'ignore,' which just means that person can add me to their circles, but I didn't add that person back to mine. Therefore, I will see their posts, but they won't see mine, unless I post to 'Extended Circles.'
Got it?

courtesy of Gabriel Vasile on Google+

Now... as for the "seeing affordance," as +Robert Scoble put it: This just means that, unlike Twitter, there is more time and opportunity to see and read posts in a fast moving stream of conversation. Sometimes when I'm on Twitter I miss links because five more tweets post and the stream moves along and BAM! my attention's gone. The way I bet yours is right now.

So... to wrap  up:

Google is invading all aspects of our lives, from our social networking to our searches to our wallets (Google Wallet on Android... got it yet? Or iris. ?) Google + is populated by mostly younger, highly educated, well traveled and well read and ambitious people who get an idea and activate it quickly. You'll see much more engagement and involvement if you know who uses it and how to reach them effectively. And the social is very social - Hangouts are the new office Christmas party.

So... if you're looking for a new outlet to Facebook and Twitter, or a different set of people to talk and engage and learn with, give Google + a try.

And don't forget to circle me>>>   https://plus.google.com/u/0/111446574002076982009/posts

A mashup of Google + tutorials and people to circle and follow:

Gabriel Vasile:

wiki mommy:

google + Updates via various members of the G+ team

Secret Santa

Tomorrow: Part II Rules For Engagement - Google Plus Treasures to Circle

A Bientot!


  1. Thank you, thank you! A very fun and informative read (although the flow chart scared me a little. I'm afraid of charts, tables and PowerPoints, etc. in general. Charts = EVIL). This is definitely something I need to explore! Great post! I suspect if I started using it I will learn more. For now, I've only added people to circles and then not many people at all.

  2. Ha Leslie!
    Lots of people told Vasile that too, and he said he'd simplify, but he's really just too busy with all the upgrades & networking & SEO stuff.
    He's pretty nice to engage with on both G+ & Fbk, and very smart and easy to understand.
    Except for that scary graph.

  3. P.S. We need to Hangout there for your new release.

  4. Wow - that graph really made my head spin! LOL Thanks for sharing this - I learned something today :)

  5. I'm glad you liked it Kellie! And now I'm luring my friends over to G+! Hungout with Leslie earlier tonight, and circled you.

  6. Hi Pamela,
    I'm too scared to look at that flow chart... my brain is currently fried and on deadline for a 2-part article I'm working on... but I will read it once the sanity is back in my brain... and hopefully understand it too!

  7. Very helpful, Pam, also daunting. I am not looking to add social media, I am looking for the proof that they help a writing career more than they hurt it. My latest riff: When websites were new, they sold books; when blogs were new, they sold books; when FB was new... Twitter.... Not so sure five years after appearing, any of these novelties have created a lasting benefit to writers or readers. As much money as we waste on ads in the publishing biz, I'm surprised nobody has applied any real science to the question.

  8. Excellent point Grace.
    I confess to being MIA here because of writing and networking (maybe more networking than writing...) -
    there really aren't enough hours in a day.
    I DO feel that my life is enriched by the world view I've gotten via G+, and, with two teens - one a tech head & one a scifi geek - I'm able to talk with them on a more relevant level. We understand each other because I'm trying to stay current with their worlds.
    It won't be forever, but I want it for as long as I can hang on to it.
    That's for another post.
    Thanks for your comment!


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