Google Plus is now the second-largest social media site in the world. Because Google added products like Hangouts and Communities, along with Google News, Google Plus is an intriguing site for users.
Creating a Google Account
Before you can create a Google Plus account, you will need to set up a Google account. To do that, click the “Create an Account” button on the plus.google.com. From there you will be asked to answer a few pieces of information. Then you’ll be asked to add a profile photo to go with your new account. The image must be a minimum size of 250 x 250 pixels. Then you’ll be directed to your new Gmail account and you can navigate to Google Plus from the dashboard. Now, you’re ready to add friends, family and others to your Circles.
The first time you are on Google Plus, a screen will ask you to add people you know or want to follow, as well as suggested users Google has curated for you to follow- which is known as a Circle. When you would like to select someone for your Circle, you can choose from, “Family”, “Friends”, “Acquaintances” and “Following”. You can also create a new Circle if you would like to add someone to a Circle that isn’t listed. Circles are like filters in that you can share content with those in your Circles and you can see what you would like to share publicly. People will know when you have added them to your circle but they won’t know who else is in it with them.
Adding Extras to Your Profile
After you’ve added people to your Circles, Google will then ask you to share more about yourself, like employment, education and location. They will initially be public, but you can edit the privacy once your profile is set.
Exploring the Stream
When you get to the Google Plus homepage, you’ll see posts, products and then some. On the left side of the site, you will see options to choose from like, “What’s Hot,” “Communities” and “Events”, with many others. On the right side of the screen is the Hangout box, you can view the people and brands that are in your Circle. From there you can text or video chat with them. In the middle, you will see the posts from your Circle. You can go through these posts by choosing a Circle of your choice. The section will also include posts that Google thought were popular in this network. You can +1 a post, which is similar to liking a post basically. You can also view the post’s activity; embed the post, or link to the post. There are also several other options you will have by clicking the downward carrot symbol at the top right of each post.
Google Plus makes it very easy to post and for you to be able to target a larger or small group of accounts when you post on the platform. When you post, you need to select who you would like to share it with – You can choose to post Public, an entire Circle or just one person. As with Facebook, you can tag individuals or brands and those who are tagged will receive a notification. A post can also be a private message.
Communities are where the conversations take place on Google Plus. This is where users can find discussions on specific topics with other users who are interested in the conversation. The topics are endless and all you have to do is request to join. There are public and private communities. If you post on a public community, your comment will be posted on your profile. If you post on a private community, it remains just between you and the other users in that community.
Hangouts are one of the most popular features on the platform. There are three types: the text chat version that has basically replaced Gchat, private Hangouts and Hangouts On Air. Hangouts are great options for people or companies who want to have a private video chat with 10 different accounts. This is not publicly viewable and is only seen by those who are invited to join. Hangouts On Air are public Hangouts that can be viewed by all and are archived on YouTube.
This section of Google Plus is one of its major standouts. This is also located on the left sidebar of the platform. “What’s Hot” shows the posts, topics and hashtags that are trending on Google at any time. Hashtags are really big on Google Plus and are very helpful for social search. Google will also suggest related hashtags for your post to make them resonate more.