Google+ Communities: Where is the Value?

By: Guest | January 21, 2013 | 

Today’s guest post is by Brian Meeks.

There is a new time suck in town, it’s called Google+ Communities.

It was rolled out recently; I have no idea when and it really doesn’t matter.

It is the latest really well done idea on a fantastically done product nobody seems to be able to get hot and bothered over.

G+ is the really pretty girl in a room full of Victoria’s Secret models.

I want to go chat up G+, she seems nice, but I keep getting distracted by the really big “hands” on Twitter and Facebook.

As for LinkedIn, she really shouldn’t have worn that sweater, or someone should have been honest when she asked if it made her look fat.

LinkedIn had been doing groups for a long time. They aren’t great. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”

Love Me, Love My Blog

My experience with blogging related to LinkedIn groups is they all have areas to “promote your blog.” The idea is simple: You put a link to a post up and then go read the dozen or so posts before and leave comments, usually meaningless comments, because you don’t really give a damn. You just want them to love YOU back. Of course, the comments you receive on your post are just as meaningless.

It is the whole “Follow Me & I’ll Follow You” thing I’ve railed on so many times.

The G+ writing communities, and I can’t speak for the others, because I’ve not been joining them, seem to be the same as LinkedIn but with books. (Note: This is an historic moment, as NOT knowing about something has never stopped me before from forming a hasty and ill informed opinion and then spouting off about it.)

Communities -vs- Tribes

For the most part, they are filled with first time paranormal romance writers who, for lack of a better word or words, couldn’t write their way out of a wet metaphorical bag. They all want feedback. They are all lying, because I know when they say feedback they mean unbridled praise and adoration.

Now, I will be the first to admit the world could use 20,000 more paranormal romance novels, but sadly it isn’t a genre I’m interested in, so I’ve not found the communities to be all that helpful.

For a G+ community to work, it needs to be…well…Triberr. The people I’ve grown to know via the two tribes I was invited to all seem to get it. They are engaging, leave meaningful comments, and seem to truly like one another’s writing.

I’ve heard there are mega tribes and I imagine they may suffer from some of the problems I described above, but I’m not in one, so I couldn’t say.

It makes me wonder three things…

  1. What do you think makes a valuable community?
  2. Is there enough time in the day for one more social media obligation?
  3. If LinkedIn wore a tight silk blouse, would she get hit on more?

That’s all the snark I have time for today, I need to get to work on my novel about a paranormal romance writer bitten by a sexy vampire, thus forced to confront his own immortality and the fact that he is doomed to an eternity in a genre that pretty much sucks.

Brian Meeks has delusions of novelist, which he feeds by writing the Henry Wood Detective series. He has just completed a young adult novel, Secret Doors: The Challenge, which should be available soon. He is also the author of a book about the 1986-87 Iowa Hawkeyes Men’s basketball team, and just finished…well…he writes a lot of books (and needs to get them all edited…he digresses). If you are interested can find out more about him at

  • Totally with you on the “scratch my back and I’ll pretend I care about scratching yours” thing with LinkedIn, and now apparently G+ (I still can’t really get into G+ at all, so I will take your word for it, but it sounds about right.) And I even share the pet peeve about paranormal romance novelists who want “feedback” (read: adulation).
    In this spirit of ACTUAL feedback, I am, however, totally skeezed out by all of the social-networks-as-women-as-sexual-objects metaphors in this post, not least because, on both Facebook and Twitter, more than 50% of users are women. And yet, I see so few posts describing Twitter or Facebook as a Calvin Klein model flexing his abs for attention, or even a cute hipster boy loudly mentioning his ska-dubstep fusion band’s next show. Maybe because men-as-sexual-objects metaphors are ridiculous and get deleted.
    Reminds me of another of Mark Twain’s suggestions: “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Substitute the metaphorical depiction of a man as a hapless sexual object every time you’re tempted to put in a metaphorical objectified woman waiting eagerly for male attention, you’ll notice it looks ridiculous, you’ll delete it, and the writing will be just as it should be.
    But hey, that’s just, like, my opinion, man. Also, I’ve got the flu and I was cranky and nauseous already, without the idea of LinkedIn sprouting breasts to help it along.

    • @jelenawoehr I love that feedback!
      It makes me want to, next time I’m feeling like ranting, put in some metaphorical eye candy for the ladies. It is a really good idea.  I realize your point was that I should do neither, but I’m trying to garner laughs (which I obviously failed to do for you), and I bet I could get just as many chuckles (at this point zero) with oily muscle bound men.
      I love ACTUAL feedback, so I appreciate you taking the time to craft your response, even though you’re under the weather.
      The Twain quote was a good one, too.
      I hope you feel better, soon.

  • I love G+ and have been very pleased with the few communities I am a part of.  The best ones are a series of give and take, but they are have been truly wonderful.

    • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes In truth, since I wrote that piece, there is one community on G+ that I’ve become fond of, but it was started  by someone I know and trust. She does a good job with it.  The other nine (probably too many, I should have stopped with 2 or 3, because I don’t give them enough of my time), don’t have much interaction.
      I’m torn about G+. I am sure it is the best platform out there, in quality and what it does, but I haven’t bonded with G+ the way I wanted. Again, this is probably more a comment on my effort than the platform. I rank it third in my life, behind Twitter and FB.

  • HowieG

    I started a community of paranormal psychic zombie romance authors and already have 198 members including Bill Gates, Oprah, Steven King, and Rush Limbaugh. It is a great community though we all ridicule Rush because how he thinks his stuff fits our community is kind of cute.
    Anyway the advantage Google has over Apple. Apple has a device called an IPad with all it’s bathroom humor. But Google has the G+ and everyone knows if you can find a woman;s G+ she will be yours forever.

    • rdopping

      @HowieG THAT’s why I like G+ so much.

  • Daniel Nuccio

    I’m not sure if this is a question for a different post, but has anyone had much success using Google+ to grow their business or to really establish an online community like the ones on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs like SpinSucks? Personally, most of my friends don’t have an account. The ones that do don’t use it. And, although maybe half of my business contacts are active on Google+, it seems like they’re largely posting content that their contacts have already read and commented on either through Twitter or Facebook.

    • @Daniel Nuccio I think this is a perfect place for such a question. I don’t have an answer, but hopefully another reader might.

      • @ExtremelyAvg  @Daniel Nuccio Hi, I’ve been on the fringe of Internet Marketing for a few years, and these guys are the barometer for what works. I’ve seen them surge into Twitter, then the crowd moved to Facebook. Then (some of) those targeting the business market rather than the ‘make money online’ have moved to Google+.
        Google is an awesome online platform / ecosystem and G+ is at the core for sentiment for what content/author is hot, and what is not. You want to rank well in Google search then you integrate 10 Google tools and build a big tribe of engaged followers who like and share your stuff.
        If you just want to chat with mates, go wherever they go. Niche communities are potentially the way forward – well managed LinkedIn Groups, SpinSucks, and many others. What will stand out are Leaders, who set up and manage groups and contribute to others. However, that’s a big time commitment these days, but a route to global celebrity status, if that’s what you want.
        And yes, we seem to be going through a phase of re-posting stuff without comment or insight. My (publishing) robot will talk to your (filter) robot. Anyone publishing or filtering by hand risks getting swamped, overwhelmed, and swept away in the tsunami of content that is coming through..

  • I love this Brian, because you wrote about how you feel… which in the end is the whole point, isn’t it? Twitter and FB makes us feel something, for better or worse. With triberr, you feel some connection to a limited number of people. The others seem a bit cold and calculated, and so fall short.
    That said, Google has some things going for it. I’m keeping my mind open while trying not to spend much time with it.

  • “G+ is the really pretty girl in a room full of Victoria’s Secret models.”
    …happens to me all the time! 😉
    Brian, I so enjoy your writing! While I’m still not sure I understand G+ communities (of which I’ve been invited to join), I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

    • @EricaAllison I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I still think there is value in G+ communities, but I struggle with the time commitment to be able to take advantage of that value.

  • rdopping

    Hey Brian, I echo @barrettrossie sentiments. It’s how you feel about it and that drives you to share in your way. Frankly, there are 1,000’s of platforms and a few big ones. You have to find what works for you.
    I kinda like the structure of G+ and I like the way their mobile platform functions.
    Having said that Triberr has been good to me and I do like the intimate nature of the tribes. I am part of one of those power tribes but I rarely go to it and never really share anything from there. The great thing about the smaller tribes is exactly what you said. You are there because you like the people and their contributions. I need to ditch that power tribe.
    Great post. I do love your wry style.

    • @rdopping YES! to the wry style. @ExtremelyAvg  — do you ever use a style similar to your commentary above in your fiction? Kind of… (and I’m not the best-read dude here, so maybe this is a stretch…) Confederacy of Dunces?

      • Daniel Nuccio

        @barrettrossie  @rdopping  @ExtremelyAvg Haven’t read “Confederacy of Dunces” but I was thinking maybe “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” by Chuck Klosterman.

      • @barrettrossie  @rdopping I’ve wanted to bust out my snarky voice for a novel, but as of yet, haven’t given it a go. It might be fun to write something aimed squarely at the funny bone. Hmmmm….but what would be the story?  An angsty blogger?

      • CMPR

        @barrettrossie  @rdopping  @ExtremelyAvg as some one who has read Confederacy of Dunces as well as the overlly snarky blog post, I’d say don’t do it.  Hard to stomach this amount of snark over 500 words, let alone 250 pages.

        • @CMPR  @barrettrossie  @rdopping What sorts of books do you like?

      • @barrettrossie  @rdopping I’ve decided you are right and tonight I put up the first chapter in a new novel, “Underwood Scotch and Wry”. Thanks to both of you for giving me the spark to try something new…ish, for me.

    • (When I say “Confederacy of Dunces” I mean a lot more over the top than “Touched.”)

      • @barrettrossie It is an idea worth considering.  I get far more comments on my rants that are posted here and over at Waxing Unlyrical (Snooki vs. Toni Morrison), then I do on my site.  Of course, Spin Sucks and WUL have greater audiences.

      • @barrettrossie In the ten minutes since I read your suggestion, the creative juices have begun to flow. How about a professor in his 50’s, who teaches literature and writing at a small college, and is forced to take on teaching a course entitled “Blogging 101”, much to his horror.

        • @ExtremelyAvg  @barrettrossie Full circle then. Didn’t writing start out as pamphlets and serial format in the days of Caxton. How little has changed in 500 years. The topics are probably similar too, and coffee houses and story-telling thrown in for good measure. So, based on historical parallel, what’s your prediction for how Blogging and Social will evolve.

        • @MarkStonham  @barrettrossie I don’t know, but it is an interesting question, one I may spend a bit of time pondering.  Or maybe I’ll let one of my characters do the thinking?

        • @ExtremelyAvg Oh god, if you write something offensive IT’S NOT MY FAULT!!  🙂

        • @barrettrossie Noted!  I’m sure that “Underwood Scotch and Wry” will offend some…or else, I’m not doing it correctly.

    • @rdopping  @barrettrossie I did have a question about the power tribes. Does it drive traffic?
      I’m really torn between wanting to read everything and hoping all my tribemates will read my stuff (smaller tribes) and just wanting people to know about my books. The closer I get to launching the next Henry Wood, the more I’m wondering if a mega tribe might help with exposure.

      • @ExtremelyAvg  @rdopping  @barrettrossie Pub analogy again, depends if you want to sing karaoke in your own pub, or do ‘open mic’ somewhere, or be a support act or headline. Find the path to success by hard work and trial and error, or find an agent, or apply for X-factor. Listening to, and critiqueing other peoples songs won’t  make you a famous musician, but then maybe being a DJ (John Peel), musical compere (Jules Holland), or promote (Simon Cowell) are what appeals to you instead.

  • LinkedIn is the non-sexy frumpy looking one in the corner….with a sweater on. Very functional but maybe you don’t want to show her off to all your friends just yet….
    My focus in here has shifted from driver to passenger; right now I’m content to be more of an observer and glean all the knowledge I can in case I ever need it…:). 
    I guess the question is, how much is enough? I’m doing kind of ok in my day job right now and if all this other ‘stuff’ is going to require me to work more and in reality a negligible return on investment, I’ll pass for now. 
    I’ll continue to provide the comic relief and if it takes me somewhere I won’t resist.
    That’s my story…..

    • @bdorman264 …It’s a good story and I think you should stick to it.

    • @bdorman264 Maybe LinkedIn is the Cougar – passionate and experienced beneath the demure exterior. Drawing in the young blood with career aspirations, and grooming them for corporate life.
      ROI is a tricky one – what is your goal? If money – what are you selling? If skills – then participate and learn? If contacts – define who, and find them.

  • Brian, your point about social being a time-suck is a real issue, creating a barrier for people.
    To follow your analogy, I’m inclined to view each social network as a different pub in town. Go to one for a quiet drink and chat, another for sports coverage, another for live music, another for a pick-up.
    The landlord needs to attract drinking trade and make money, so caters for certain groups, and may add extras such as food. To be avoided is a pub atmosphere which goes silent when a new face walks through the door, or when a new visitor is picked on by the regulars.
    If the regulars see that it’s beneficial to bring their friends, and meet and greet others, their circle of friends gets bigger, and the publican makes money and will hopefully pass some back to keep the regulars sweet.

    • @MarkStonham I really like the pub analogy. I wish I had thought of it. G+ is a Pub that I like everything about, especially the decor, but my friends seem to be mostly hanging out over at Twitter, drinking and carrying on.

      • @ExtremelyAvg Twitter is good for chat, like a lunchtime or after work drink, but if you want a ‘session’, head for LinkedIn (mature crowd), Facebook (younger crowd) or the trendy, up and coming Google+. Use twitter as a text messenger throughout. If you have time and energy be gregarious.

      • @ExtremelyAvg  @MarkStonham I like this analogy, too! In fact, I may steal it when I explain the different networks when I speak.

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: January 22, 2013()

  • So my problem is I sometimes like to stand next a wall, wearing a blah sweater and lowish heels? No I get it – the evolution of SM gaming is coming to a G+ Community near you, so get dressed!
    It’s one of the reasons LI has been sending me ‘you haven’t visited this group in forever’ emails – b/c 93.34% of the ‘discussions’ are people just pimping their own posts (and about 5% wanting $1M marketing advice. for free). Now Answers has bit the dust and heir apparent to take its place is probably the no-one there but SEO is the Game so they’ll join anyway G+ communities. Or not, maybe let Quora suck more of their life’s blood away. 
    My issue w/ all of it is that, I’d rather a genuine organic, all-natural community than a spammy, obligatory clique of back-scratching tribals or psychotic sychophants. Semantic schmantics, but there I said it. Or maybe I’m typing out of my hat. 🙂 FWIW.

    • @3HatsComm I hadn’t thought about the emails from LinkedIn, but you are absolutely right. Now, I find them annoying….which just might lead to another post…which I find wonderful. Either way, thanks!

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: January 22, 2013 « TLC Niche Marketing()