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Google_plusThere are claims that Google+ has more users than Twitter and is therefore becoming an essential social media platform for businesses. This article points out two important facts about Google+ for those who are just getting started with Google+. First, Google+ is neither Facebook nor Twitter; it is something different. Second, there is a “ghost town” myth that no one is on Google+. And I must admit that I am among the many people who hadn’t seen much on Google+ in spite of the fact that I had added lots of people to my circles.

But I’m willing to try it and share what I have learned along the way.

Google+ doesn’t create a content stream like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn do. Google+ allows users to build communities around common interests. Content is displayed based on circles, communities, or collections, providing a range of streams. Google+ users share individual posts with those they choose rather than all posts being shared with all in their Google+ circles or publicly.

In spite of the temptation to start by adding all contacts into one or more circles, I concluded that starting with public posts – both looking at them and adding them – is a better way to begin. Start by setting up up your Google profile, signing into Google+ and reviewing the public posts. (Remember that you just need one profile for all of Google’s apps, so uploading a photo for Google+ means the same photo will display for Google Drive and Gmail.) If you see a public post that looks interesting, click on it to see more information. If you want to continue to get posts from this person, click on their name and add them to one of your circles. Also, while on the Home page, click on the down arrow on the button in the upper left corner and select “People” to get suggestions on others to add to your circles, but don’t limit yourself to your known contacts. Use Google+ to expand your professional network beyond the people you already know. Create a circle when you need one and add people to it as you find them. As you find content you want to share, you will also find people who are also interested in it. Build your circles from those contacts since they are all already on Google+.

Google+ also offers communities and collections, other ways to find people who share your interests.  Communities are groups of people with a common interest, for example poetry.  When you join a community you see all the messages that others in the community have posted right in your stream.  Collections are groupings of your posts on a particular subject.  This ability to group posts by topic is similar to how Pinterest collects links by topic, using the labels you choose. Note that others can look at your collection and add comments to your posts, but they cannot post to your collection.

One of the challenges of Google+ is that it offers so many options that it takes time to learn how to use them all. Below are some references to help:

When I add posts to this website, they are simultaneously posted to Twitter and Google+. But I always check for them on those platforms, too. I have to update each Google+ post to make it public. And I often add a second Twitter entry to add the hashtags #SDWEG and #SanDiegoWriters.