Why I blog on Google+ (And how)

The best blogging platform isn't a blogging platform, but Google's social network.

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O'Reilly wrote, "G+ is my favorite blogging platform" and he said Google+ is "like a Tumblr 2.0, but more social."

Google+ blogging isn't for every blogger. If you really need custom design, traditional archives, widgets and other nonblog functionality or advertising, you're better off with a regular blog platform.

But for everyone else, Google+ is the by far the best place to blog.

How I blog on Google+

Here's my advice for how to blog on Google+. First, create a "headline" by bolding the first sentence. Type an asterisk on either side of the headline to bold it.

Google+ offers a place to add a link, which auto-generates a thumbnail picture and "blurb" at the bottom of your post. This is fine for the personal social sharing of links. But when you're blogging, never use this option. The thumbnail is too small to attract the eye, and the blurb is an extraneous element that competes for attention with your headline and post.

I believe that accepting the auto-generated thumbnail and blurb is the single biggest mistake that some Google+ bloggers make.

Upload a full-size picture. Don't accept the auto-generated thumbnail.

Alternatively, add a video by simply pasting the YouTube or Vimeo URL anywhere in the body of the post. Google+ will automatically add the video. Once the video appears at the bottom of the post, you can delete the URL.

Once your picture or video is in place, paste in any links you want to add at the bottom of the post. Google+ will convert them into live links for readers.

If you refer to an organization, publication or person, try plus-mentioning them. By typing a plus sign and then the name, you'll get a drop-down menu of possibilities. Choose the right one, and that plus-mention will point your readers to the party's Google+ page with an auto-generated link, and those mentioned will probably be notified the post. Never assume that organizations or people aren't on Google+. I've found that 95% of the people or organizations I refer to have Google+ profiles or pages.

One of the great things about Google+ is that you can add email addresses to the addressing, and your blog post will be delivered as an email. So if you mention a company, or want to bring your post to the attention of people via email, just add their email address.

Give credit at the bottom of posts. I credit the source of the picture or video, credit the source of the story idea and also use the Google+ search feature to find out who was the first person to mention the news on Google+ and credit them for that as well.

Address your post to "Public" -- that delivers the post to people who have circled you, and makes it available on the Internet just like any blog post or other Web page.

Actively moderate. Engage with constructive commenters and block spammers and trolls. Circle the people who are particularly interesting. Cultivate community.

If you want to see how many people have read your post, you can open Picasa Web Albums (the photo service that Google uses on the back end for all Google+ photography) click on the picture that accompanied the post in question and it will show you how many times that picture was viewed (the same number who viewed your post).

I've blogged extensively for more than a decade, using Movable Type, TypePad, Blogger, Posterous and Tumblr. And I think Google+ is by far the best blogging platform I've ever encountered.

Sure, you give up design customization, archiving and widgets. But you gain more of what you were looking for when you decided to blog in the first place: Readers, community, influence and learning.

If you're not sure, why not try it as an experiment for one month? Announce your experiment on your blog and add a link to your profile.

And please drop me a line on Google+ to let me know you're doing this!

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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