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Tuesday
Jan032012

The Musicians Guide to Google +

A few months ago, Google introduced their own social networking platform with the intention of entering the ring to contend for the social media crown against the likes of Facebook and Twitter. This platform, simply dubbed Google + (pronounced Google Plus), showcases quite a few similar features as its leading competition. So as a musician, you may be asking yourself ‘why would I even bother if I’m already on Facebook and Twitter? Do I REALLY need to update yet another social account??’.

Well frankly, the answer is yes, you really do need to get yourself set up on Google + and the reasons as such are quite simple.

Why Musicians Cannot Avoid Google +

1. Google + pages rank very highly (if not #1) in Google searches.

This is incredibly important for any emerging musician trying to establish an online presence, as it will almost instantly increase your visibility. Even if you are still too obscure for your Facebook Fan Page or your personal website to appear towards the top of a Google search, a Google + page will almost instantly rank towards the very top.

2. Google + is the fastest growing social network in history.

Of course it is! Google is already such a dominant force that anything they introduce can grow, and fast. So it is no surprise that Google +, introduced in July of 2011, received 20 million visits in the first 21 days of its existence. As of September 2011, Google + was up to 25 million registered members, which is still infantile compared to Facebook which is somewhere in the range of 750 million registered members. But if Google + can continue to grow at it’s current rate, it may be able to give Facebook a real run for the money.

3. Google + has already shown to be a powerful tool for musicians.

Within the first weeks of the Google + launch, a singer/ songwriter named Daria Musk took advantage of some of the FREE Google + features, namely Google Hangouts, to host a virtual concert to hundreds of fans and new listeners.

Sound Advice w/ Daria Musk

The Features

Whether or not Google + is the most wildly original social network since the dawn of Web 1.0, 2.0 or beyond isn’t important. What is important is that because of the reasons outlined above, Google + is here to stay and should be an important platform and marketing tool to consider when creating a strategy to build your online presence and influence.

The following are five of the most important features that you as a musician need to know about in order to make the most of your time and effort put into Google+.

Band Pages

This is the quintessential feature that you all must be familiar with. A Google + Band Page is a page that you can make, just like a Facebook Fan Page, that caters directly to musicians.

It is crucial that you sign up for a band page as soon as possible so that you can solidify the URL and Band Page name to remain consistent with the rest of your social presence. This process is very simple:

Once you sign up for a Google + account, you will see a link to ‘create a page ’ on the right side bar towards the bottom of your profile.

From here, all you need to do is select the ‘Arts, Entertainment and Sports’ option and create the page!

It is truly that easy and will make a HUGE difference in your overall online visibility. Of course, you want to make sure you complete your Google + Band Page with a Bio, Hi-Res pictures of yourself or your band. Unfortunately at this point in time, Google+ Band Pages still don’t have a way for you to upload music directly to the page, so you’ll want to use this page primarily to engage your fans.

Circles

Google +’s Circles are THE core function of the website and is how Google + positioned itself as a unique competitor in the social networking market…

As far as you need to be concerned, Circles are really just lists. See, Google + functions similarly to Twitter in that you can simply follow anyone you’d like without needing their approval by adding them to a Circle. The Benefit of this is that you can create separate Circles for all of the different people and resources that you need to stay on top of. Here are a few types of Circles that I suggest you create:

  • Venues

  • Similar Bands

  • Fans (create a new circle for each major market or region where your fans exist. Great for upcoming show!)

  • Blogs that you follow

  • Music Industry Resources

Here is a great video overview of Circles made by Google!

As mentioned above, singer/songwriter Daria Musk was able to utilize Google Hangouts to host a virtual concert for hundreds (and eventually thousands) of fans and listeners within her first 3 sessions! So what is Google Hangout?

Simply put, Google +’s hangouts is a free and easy to use video conferencing service similar to Skype (actually, Facebook’s introduction of Skype video chatting was a response to Google +’s introduction of Hangouts).

The reason this service is so important for emerging musicians is because it allows you expand the face-to-face time with fans to beyond just live events.

Here is another great video overview from Google:

Photos

I know what you’re thinking… more photos??

Well, yes. More photos. But thankfully Google + has made it far easier than any other platform to upload photos directly to your profile! When Google + was originally introduced, Google also released the Google + mobile apps for the iPhone and Android operating systems. Within these apps is a fantastic function that allows the app to automatically upload all pictures taken from your phone directly to your profile. Yes this will drain more battery from your smartphone… but I think it’s worth it to know that every photo you take, be it from the recording studio, from the road, or even from an awesome new restaurant, is now a piece of content that you can share with your fans.

+1

Before Google + was in the running for the social media contender, Google introduced it’s own form of a Facebook Like button called the ‘+1 button’. Then, when Google+ was launched, the +1 button became a fully integrated engagement marketing tool, allowing anyone to ‘+1” any page with the button, which not only acts to help the page rank higher in Google searches, but it now also appears on that person’s Google + profile.

So what does this mean…

Well, it doesn’t mean much in terms of how you use Google +. But it does mean that the +1 Button is now an absolute must, along with the Facebook Like button, on your website and blog! Including this will turn your website into an easily sharable, highly visible site on Google +.

Conclusion

As an emerging musician, it is critical that you stay on top of the ever-evolving trends of social media so that you can properly establish, maintain and grow your online presence, ultimately leading to a bigger more dedicated fan base. Google’s introduction of Google+ is simply the latest, major introduction into this world and as such it is important that you are on top of it to make sure you don’t fall behind other artists who are growing with the trends.

Reader Comments (12)

Great post - I agree with all you say about Google+ in terms of value.

However, there are a couple of points to warn people about.

The first is that unlike Facebook, you can't upload a branded "WebApp" style page. Sure, you can add some words, links and images.

But you're stuck with the vanilla, unbranded Google+ layout.

The second is more important and a potential show-stopper for Apple visitors. Google+, again like Facebook, gives you some code to put onto your site or blog to like your Google+ page, or to take you to it.

Except it won't work on Apple platforms, like iPhone, iPad or iMac. As many in the creative media will be using those, it sucks!

Having said that, I'm sure they'll fix it eventually, but at the moment, people shoudl be made aware of it!

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Robinson

I don't think that Google+ is going to get away with giving such a high search rank to pages forever. Being that they control 80% of the search market, that's pretty darn anticompetitive against other social networks. That is definitely not a reason to switch.

Personally, I have a Google+ account and use Google+ pages. I continually am underwhelmed by it. I'm sure it will improve, but Facebook has given brands better tools to create networks and measure their success.

65 million people are on Google+
800 million people are on Facebook

Don't give up your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for Google+. If you're like most artists I know, you don't have time to fiddle with multiple networks since you do all the work yourself. Stick with what works for now. Try it out if you have time. It's a good product, but it still needs work and a larger network.

#justsaying

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterLougan

Great post! We're gonna share it with our indie artists friends community! Thx so much and Happy New Year 2012! All da best !!!

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterBuzztune

Well if you're in the music you need all the help you can get so go for the Google Thanks Musically ElvisCarden now make some nois with your music

January 3 | Registered CommenterElvis Carden

Silly MusicThinkTank... Writes blog about Google+... Not a single Google +1 button on the site...

But yes, great post. I've already built several pages and have started using it for bands pushing content that we aren't posting to Facebook (to avaoid overloading fans).

It REALLY needs multiple admin access for pages though... Like, now.

It's always great to read an article from Ariel with all her knowledge & expertise. Personally I'm still not sure on G+.

Here's my quote from my first post on Google+ from six months ago:
"Here I am on what I believe is now the 20th social network I've been on. Remember Friendster? I kinda have fond memories of the first year of Friendster & the first five years of MySpace. Facebook is okay I guess. I still don't understand how to use Twitter properly. We'll see if this is another Orkut (which I never figured out) or Yahoo 360 (I think the only one I didn't join) or if it's going to be able to compete with VKontakte (the eastern European Facebook)."

As far as Google+ definitely being here to stay... Orkut was run by Google & I have no idea what happened with Google Wave. So I'm not so sure on that.

My real problem with Google+ is it doesn't seem to (at least yet) work with Twitter & my feeling is I'm better off not having a page than having a non-updated page (especially if it's the highest ranked page). That said, if you have the time & energy to use G+, then go for it. I've kinda started to feel like it's time for me personally to spend less time on social networking & more time creating content of my own.

This public service announcement was brought to you by Google + !!!

What's the point of a "band page" if you can't upload music?

Your post makes some sense but, unfortunately, all it means is another semi-complete profile for artists to update that ultimately will end up being out of date, which is a poor experience for fans and leads to huge levels of disengagement.

IF G+ was syncable easily with pre-existing services like Soundcloud / Bandcamp and the like, then we're starting to get somewhere.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterShabba

If you're not already ranking at #1 in Google for your own band name (with your own site or Facebook page), you've chosen the wrong band name. 'The The' and 'ABC' won't cut it as band names in the Google era.

By all means reserve your Google+ page just in case, but judging by the amount of spammers I've got adding me, not too many of its 60 million users are genuine and active.

Also, Google's aesthetic will be a real problem for attracting bands. Facebook only really became popular with musicians when services like Bandpage made it easy to customize profile pages. Musicians like their presences to look distinctive. If that's not an option, they won't move over until it's clear that all their fans have abandoned other networks and they NEED to be there.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Ummmm...everyone seems to believe that Facebook had all of its beloved features when it first launched. Give it time. Google, just like every other enterprise, is responsive and technologically advanced. No one's saying abandon FB...but isn't it wise to get in on the ground floor before everyone and their moms jumps on the bandwagon after the fact? Facebook, in only relative recent years became as user friendly for musicians as it is now. 65 million users in the face of a monster like FB is pretty astounding for a relatively new platform. Give it time. In a year or so the net will be filled with $1,000 "How to promote your band on Google+" courses.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterMeMyselfAnd_I

Hi Guys, How inspiring is that!! I think it's a great idea to hook up with the Google + because I know many people like myself who missed out on opportunities because we didn't get on board with a company or idea early on. Thanks Daria for taking a chance and helping me to see the success that is available to me through Google+ even at this stage of the game.

January 6 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueleen

@Neil says:
"Except it won't work on Apple platforms, like iPhone, iPad or iMac. As many in the creative media will be using those, it sucks!"

The code of course works on an iMac. Mac computers are the same as any other computer when it comes to surfing the web. There is no code that does not work on an iMac.

For the other platforms (iphone and iPad) unless there is flash involved then the code should work just fine.

January 7 | Unregistered Commentermark

Thanks for this article, Ariel!

Google+ has reported over 400 million members in September (2012).

It ranks as the number 5 most popular social networking site on eBizMBA (just under Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace).

Some of the fastest growing profiles are musicians like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, and Usher.

There is definitely a place for musicians on Google+.

November 7 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Wiebe

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