Is It Time for Authors to Stop Using Google+?

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Is Google+ Dead for Authors?When Google+ first appeared on the virtual landscape on June 28, 2011, everyone wondered whether it would destroy Facebook’s popularity the way Facebook tossed a lance into MySpace.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how anyone could have thought Facebook would disappear from the digital world.

Au contraire. Today, Facebook is thriving with 1.7 billion monthly active users (and 1..4 billion daily active users) and Google+ seems to be slowly deflating like a balloon losing air.

When Google+ first surfaced, plenty of social media experts praised it. Within several months, Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist for Slate, openly predicted the demise of this network and declared it a “ghost town.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Google+ feels like a ghost town today via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Google+ feels like a ghost town today”]

It feels like a ghost town today. Doesn’t it? There are some dedicated users. Here are some numbers from Sprout Social, an analytics program, to consider:

  • 74% of users are male
  • 26% of users are female
  • 55% of users are from the US
  • 18% of users are from India
  • 6% of users are from Brazil
  • 5% of users are from the UK
  • 4% of users are from Canada

I also found this from Forbes:

Enge extrapolated this analysis across the 2.2 billion users on Google and concluded that while the ‘active profiles’ on Google+ amount to 111 million users, only 6.7 million users have 50 or more posts ever, and only 3.5 million have 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, the performance the user base for Google+ is dismal.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Facebook is thriving, Google+ isn’t via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Facebook is thriving, Google+ isn’t “]

Google+ tried to boost interest in its platform by requiring everyone who used Gmail, YouTube, or other Google products to sign up for Google+. But what happened? There are a lot of empty accounts.

According to TechCrunch, the circles turned out to be too complicated for a lot of users and people weren’t allowed to create accounts with pseudonyms. Google+ eventually reversed its decision about pseudonyms.

Last year, Google+ relaunched its platform with a focus on communities and collections. I don’t think that at that point, anyone cared. (Collections are a way to group your posts by topic. You can share each collection publicly, privately, or with a particular group of people.)

I bring up the topic of Google+ because last week I deleted the Google+ comment moderation plugin from my blog. I just don’t see many writers who actively read my blog on Google+. In fact, I don’t recommend Google+ to authors anymore.

Google+ had a storied beginning yet today it does feel like a ghost town.

Authors: Not Sure What to Tweet? Try These 44 Tweets Today by Frances Caballo, AuthorFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks, and blogger at Bowker’s Self-Published Author. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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  1. I’m on Google+ as under my pen name, Anne Hagan, and it doesn’t seem to do much for me in terms of networking and such but, it does integrate with my WordPress blog just as easily as it does for people who use Google’s own Blogger platform. That’s a plus because when I post to the blog, G+ picks it up and my posts are indexed by Google almost immediately. That makes it worth it to me for the bit of traffic it drives the day of a post and having things quickly indexed. I don’t spend a lot of time there…hardly any, but I’ll click on buttons like on your blog post to repost relevant content there to, say, my ‘authors’ circle and so forth. It takes seconds and I don’t even have to go there other than once or twice a week to look at the feed and click ‘like’ on a few things and then move on.

  2. I still try to keep up some activity on my G+ page and interact with my G + contacts, although it feels like an exercise in futility. Whenever I go to my profile and see they have “updated” to the unusable mish-mash of “new G+” I go back to the old one, but I realize it will soon be impossible to go back and the site will be impossible to use or navigate, so we’ll all have to leave.

    It all makes me sad, because posting a piece to Google Plus is still the fastest way to get it into a Google search. I will miss it. But Google seems to have done everything in its power to kill off Google Plus.

    • Anne: You’re right that posting on Google+ is a great way to get into a Google search. At one time I really enjoyed the communities I joined, such as APE with Peg Fitzpatrick and Guy Kawasaki. But I seem to be letting it all go except for some occasional posts …maybe just a few a week. I also think that Google, by requiring everyone with a Gmail or YouTube account to also have a G+ account, maybe messed it up for themselves. There are way too many empty accounts on G+.

  3. I like Google+ and do get responses. One has to post regularly in the communities, though, and not just on your own Google+ page. I’ve had especially good results for my new mystery Greylock from Google+ book communities and reader communities–and with my blog posts as well. It’s like Facebook: you have post on reader and book groups if you want to reach a wider audience than just followers.

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