So you’ve been thinking about setting up a G+ account, but the platform is confusing. As a veteran of the platform I’m here to try to demystify it for you. Why? Because G+ is a powerful social media platform that deserves a second look.
In the past G+ was organized around Circles which were confusing to say the least. More than a year ago the team behind G+ started organizing the platform around Collections and more recently Communities. Let me try to break down these two major components of G+ and how to use them.
More than a year ago the team behind G+ rolled out Collections and encouraged everyone to organize their posts around topics of interest. A Collection can contain photographs, writings, articles you want to share, re-shares from elsewhere on G+ or other platforms – pretty much anything you can think of that might be relevant to the topic of your collection. You want to create themes that are easy to understand with a title that will help people immediately know what they’re getting if they follow your collection. (Warning: when you first set up a collection do not set it to private, this can’t be undone).
The beauty of collections (which are similar to albums on Flickr) is that you can follow a person’s toy photography collection and not their collection filled with personal images, memes or politics. You can also search for collections by interest which makes it easy to find other toy photographers. If you’re a photographer with varied interest this is a great way to reach different audiences with a different collection for each of your photography styles. You can separate your night time photographs from your toy photographs; your funny memes from your politics; your selfies from your pet photos, your architecture photos from your street photography, etc. Get the idea?
If you’ve already been posting to G+ but haven’t been using collections, have no fear! You can move posts in and out of individual collections at any time. There is a drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of every post that you will want to be familiar with. If you want your work to be noticed, you will want to use collections; publishing to Public will not help the G+ team to find you.
Communities have always been around on G+ but they’ve been getting some attention lately in terms of promotion and new tools for moderators to help keep these groups from being a dumping ground for spam. Communities are large groups of individuals who are drawn together by a common theme. We host a StuckinPlastic Community on G+. You can also find communities around topics as diverse as US Southwest Travelers, Food Bloggers, Tech and Coffee, Street Photography, Black and White Minimalism and Figure Photography.
Each community has its own rules about who and what can be posted but generally they’re there to encourage discussion and connection, not simply +1‘s. (The equivalent of a ❤️) As I’ve mentioned in the past social media means more to me than simply posting my latest toy acquisition and getting a few likes. I enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds, different interests and photography styles – all around the theme of toys. G+ has allowed me to continue on that journey of connections. I would love to build our Stuck inPlastic G+ community into a place that helps people connect and discus toy photography. I think there is plenty of room for growth in that area that exists between posting a 800 word blog post and a single image to IG or G+.
G+ Can Be Quirky
When you post an image, article or general witticism to G+ you have to decide where you’re going to place your post. You can move it later, but one post can only be in one place. So if you want to post an image to your own collection and to the StuckinPlastic community, you have to post it twice. If people are following both you and SiP they will see the image twice and this can be off-putting to some people. But I’ve found that if you post to our Stuck in Plastic community with images that encourage discussion rather than likes, it can make for a dynamic experience.
What I Like About G+
- Once you comment on a post you will be notified of all future comments. This is a great way to follow a conversation or you can “mute” the post to no longer be notified of comments.
- You can translate comments on your post, delete comments or simply +1 them rather than commenting if the comment simply needs to be acknowledged.
- You can use bold, italicized and strike through in the body of your text.
- You can disable comments on a particular post or your entire feed.
- You can disable shares on individual posts.
- You can arrange your setting so your images can’t be downloaded.
- I’m introducing the concept of toy photography to a brand new audience that didn’t even know it existed. This has been a fun and the reception enthusiastic.
- Interacting with some amazing non-toy photographers and learning and being inspired.
- Opportunities like the G+ Mentorship Program. These are guided exploration opportunities around a photographic technique or idea.
- The creation of the Create Community which is a place to connect with other content creators and find opportunities to collaborate, learn and share.
- Being a part of a larger photography community, not only a toy photography community.
What I don’t Like About G+
- There is not a large toy photography community.
- The spam can be off the chart on some days. This is because G+ is pushing posts out to people to engage stagnant accounts. This is causing confusion and lots of weird comments. When this happens I disable comments on that post.
I realize that G+ isn’t for everyone, but I’m hoping that in time it will appeal to enough people who’re also looking to expand their horizons, that we can build a vibrant toy photography community. If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out G+. Start an account, join the Stuck in Plastic Community, comment on one of my posts so I know that you’ve arrived and be sure to give it a fair test drive. If you have any specific questions that I didn’t answer here, please let me know in the comments.
Why do I keep pushing G+ when there are already so many wonderful platforms to publish your toy photographs too? Facebook has several popular toy communities including one run by the folks of “Toy Crew Buddies”, there is a strong community on Flickr where I first connected with Lynn and Luigi, and of course Instagram has the mother of all toy communities. But each of these community encourages simple sharing, a short comment or a simple like. G+ is the only platform that actively encourages a deeper connection, a chance to expand your knowledge. If this is something you’re looking for, I hope you will give G+ a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised. :)
So what are you waiting for you?
Successfully G+ users you might have heard of: HarleQuin (featured collection), The Short News (featured collection), Krash Override (featured collection and Create Member), AliceinCleveland (featured collection and Create member), Avanaut (featured collection), Joseph Cowlishaw (featured collection) and East_Mountain.
If you’re interested in being a recommended collection, simply be a regular participant to the G+ community. Either I, or one of the other Create members will recommend you to the G+ team. Trust me, I’ve talked to these folks and they’re super excited about toy photography and want to support it. Great content is recognized by the G+ team and there are opportunities to have your work promoted on various Google platforms if you so desire.