Get on board with Google+

Further to our article on “Why you need to take Google+ seriously”, here’s some great tips on how to get started with Google+ and reap the many benefits associated with this increasingly powerful social media platform.

1. Signing up

Sign up for a Google account that enables you to use all the Google products. Keep your name simple – it will make it easier for people to remember you and find your Google+ post.

2. Create circles

The next step is to find people to “circle.” When you’ve circled approximately 50-people, Google+ gets really interesting. This will only take a few minutes but will yield many hours of enlightenment, engagement, and hopefully enjoyment.

Google+ provides multiple options to get started. First, to search for people you already know you can click on “Find people”. Next you can click on categories of people, such as “Entertainment” or “Fun & Interesting.” Google has compiled a list of “Picks” based on the fame and level of activity of the people. You can add these entire preselected circles or individual people.

There are a few simple ways to decide whether to circle someone:

  • Does the person have a pleasant profile photo? The lack of a profile photo indicates that the person is clueless, a newbie, or a spammer. When there is a photo, you can infer a lot about the person.
  • How many people have circled the person? Lots of followers does not necessarily mean the person is worth circling, but it’s a pretty good starting point.
  • When was the last time the person shared a post? This will show if the person is active on Google+. There’s no sense following someone who isn’t active because the purpose of circling a person is to generate interaction.
  • Are the person’s posts shared by many people, and commented upon? People who share posts that generate more than 10 shares and more than 10 comments tend to be interesting.

An easy way to check out a person is to use Chrome, Google’s browser, and install a Chrome browser extension called “CircleCount.” Then, when you mouse-over a person’s name, you’ll see the follower history and the average number of shares and comments.

3. Time to explore

Now that you’ve circled a few people, it’s time to explore Google+. The primary way to navigate Google+ is to use the 9-buttons in the vertical navigation bar on the left side of the page. This is what the buttons do:

  • Home: Home can be thought of as your “news feed.” On Google+ this button displays your “stream” of what the people you follow have posted.
  • Profile: When you want to see what you’ve posted, click on this button. It will show you all your posts. It’s also a good way to manually check for new comments on your posts.
  • Explore: This will take you to a page that explains the Google+ features as well as the posts that have the most comments and shares.
  • Hangouts: Hangouts is a fantastic Google+ feature that enables you to have a video chat session with up to 9 other people. Whether you’re a business or social user it’s so much more powerful than Skype.
  • Events: You can use Events to plan and invite people to your parties, meetings, and Google+ hangouts. You create an invite, choose a theme picture, set a day and time, and invite people and circles of people.
  • Photos: This takes you to photo collections, including those you and your friends have posted as well as photos you’ve been tagged in.
  • Circles: You create circles in order to organise and filter who you interact with. You circle people unilaterally, without their permission, although they are notified that you circled them.
  • Local: Google Local helps you find recommended places such as restaurants and hotels near your geographic location. It provides Zagat scores and summaries plus the recommendations of people you know on Google+ and “top reviewers.”
  • Games: This is the front door to playing games on Google+. You have control over when you see games, how you play them, and with whom you share your experiences.
  • More: This enables you to add navigation buttons such as Pages, which provides links to the pages that you have created or have access to. (Pages are Google+ accounts for organisations.)

There are more ways Google+ helps you find people to circle. You can search for people at any time by using the Google+ search area. When you find a person, Google+ also displays more people who might interest you.

You also can enter keywords that describe your interests and passions, and Google+ will display relevant people, posts, people, and pages. When you find people who share your interests, circle them so that you can continue to read their posts. By reading the comments on their posts, you can also find further people to circle.

The fact that Google owns the largest and most relevant search engine in the world means that encountering Google+ is inevitable for all users of the Internet.  Like we’ve said in the past, if you’re a business owner then ignore it at your peril.