Is Google+ for you?

Google+ is still very new, but it’s a big deal in the online world right now, especially amongst journalists. Some people are saying it’s the fastest-growing social network ever and it poses a threat to both Facebook and Twitter.

On Mashable.com, you can read about five ways journalists are using Google+, namely:

  • Talking about Google+
  • Hosting audience hangouts
  • Engaging readers
  • Analyzing news coverage
  • Showing personality

But for freelancers in particular, Google+ opens up other opportunities. Here are a few:

  • On Google+, you are you. For freelancers who already use Gmail, your identity is already established, and you don’t have to hunt around for a suitable but short handle, like you do on Twitter. Contacts you’ve emailed from Gmail show up when you’re searching for people to add to your Google+ network. And, conversely, you will show up for them. It’s a great way to reconnect with people you’ve worked with in the past but with whom you’ve lost touch.
  • For freelancers who cover a few different subject areas, Google+ lets you create separate “circles,” or mini-networks, related to different topics. So if you write about both tech and environmental issues, you can have one circle of people who are influential in tech and another with people who post about the environment. You can also keep these circles separate from your family, friends, and acquaintances, and decide who you want to share with when you post an update of your own.
  • Use Google+ as a mini-portfolio. If you contribute to a number of different publications, you can post your work to Google+ and, even better, decide who you want to see it. This is a key difference between Google+ and Twitter; with the latter, your Tweets go out to all your followers, and you risk bombarding some with messages you know might not interest them.
  • As a freelancer working from home (or your favourite coffee shop), the Google+ “Hangouts” video-conferencing function could really come in handy. Mashable notes that journalists are using Hangouts to connect with audience members, but Hangouts are also an easy way to arrange short meetings with editors or even conduct interviews (if your interview subject happens to be tech-savvy and willing to give it a try). The low cost of this function is particularly attractive for freelancers who need to connect with people over long distances.
  • For conducting research, Sparks (see video below) make it easy to seek out info about various subjects and see what other Google+ users are posting about a particular topic you’re researching for a story. It’s similar to the concept of Google Alerts, where you say what you’re looking for and relevant links and posts come to you, rather than you having to constantly search for them.

One thing we love about Google+ is that it’s a social network that lets freelancers comfortably wear their many hats. As it gains in popularity other functions will emerge that can benefit freelancers, but, for now, whether you think Google+ is a fad or it’s here to stay, we can’t see any harm in trying it out.

[Note: Google+ is still in its “field trial” stage, and so you need an invite to join. Anyone already signed up can send you one, so if you’re interested in trying it out, ask your network. If you don’t mind the irony, you could even ask your Twitter followers or Facebook friends for an invite.]

Posted on July 18, 2011 at 11:27 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , ,

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