12 Most Useful Tips For New Google+ Users
So, you’ve just upgraded to Google+. It’s the network you can no longer ignore — it’s bigger than Twitter and it’s the place to come in order to pursue and follow your interests. With this in mind here’s the 12 most useful tips for new users to Google+
1. Fill out your profile
This seems obvious, I know, but you really should do it. Set a profile picture and also set a cover photo that is personal. Don’t go for the ones Google gives you. Having a profile photo and cover photo that is personal is almost essential, it’s the first thing you see and if I go to somebody’s profile and there’s nothing there, I’ll leave. It tends to look like a spammer’s profile or somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Make sure you fill in your “About” page and tell us about yourself and your interests. Make it authentic and link to your other profiles or blogs. What’s the point in having an empty About page? The About page is incredibly useful because if you’re into photography, for example, I’ll add you to my photography circle.
2. Circle people and Pages
This is another fairly obvious suggestion, but this is one of the things people fail and then say “there’s nobody on Google+.” Well, no — not if you don’t add anybody to your Circles. Adding Pages can be useful for finding curated content.
Circles are lists of people and you add people to these lists to organize them into categories. Do this right and it’s incredibly useful. Add photographers to a photography circle, add writers to a writers circle. This way you can go to your home page and view each circle’s stream so you’re likely to get certain types of content from them. For example, your photographers stream will often be full of photographs and the same applies to any other interest.
Also note that adding to Circles is like Twitter, in the sense that they don’t have to add you back, whereas on Facebook it’s a two-way street. So, if strangers add you to their Circles, you can ignore them if you wish because you don’t have to add them back.
3. Join Communities
A Community is like a forum on Google+. Join them based on your interests — there is a fashion lovers community if you’re interested in fashion, and a B&W photography community if you love black and white photography. These communities really can help you find people with similar interests, and are a good place to engage, learn and meet new people.
This is what it’s all about. Post things, be unique and don’t just post links. Post about your interest and hobbies, share photographs of your latest creation or even use it like a blogging platform. If you post unique and interesting content, people will find you and follow you. Also, be sure to post public often.
If somebody finds your profile but you’ve never posted anything public and it looks like you don’t use Google+, they’ll just ignore you — so remember to post public once in a while.
Don’t just broadcast, engage with people. Talk to them, comment on others’ posts and get involved. It seems obvious but many people don’t post and don’t get involved and wonder why nobody talks to them on Google+. One of the biggest things that drives people to circle and follow other people is engagement and interaction on others’ posts.
Be sure to +1 people’s comments and posts and be engaging to encourage discussion.
6. Use Hangouts
Hangouts are text and video-based chats on Google+. You can go to Hangout settings and enable Hangouts for selected circles. This means these circles of people can see when you’re online and send you instant messages, making connecting with people even easier.
The video Hangouts are a fantastic way to meet new people on Google+,and they can have up to 9 people chatting simultaneously. These can be made public or private, and you can even record your own shows using Hangouts. The best part? It’s completely free.
7. Use hashtags
Use hashtags but use them properly. If you’ve just made a post about a new recipe, for example, use a hashtag to make it easier to find. Use relevant hashtags such as #applepie #recipe. Making your posts findable is important, meaning if somebody is interested in cooking they’ll find you and follow you and engage with you about cooking (if you’re interested in cooking that is).
8. Get the app
If you’re on Android or iOS, get the app. The app is beautiful, robust and functional. It works very well — it’s quick and this means you wont miss any notifications.
One of the great things about having the app is that it offers auto-photo-backup functionality. This means that when you take a photo, Google+ will upload it automatically and store it safely and privately. It will also edit the photo in a smart way. You can find out more about the amazing Google+ Auto Awesome features here.
9. Give credit
When re-sharing a post, always remember to give credit to the person who shared it before you. Using something like “H/T to +Larry Search” or “Via +Tom Space.” (“H/T” means hat tip). If you give credit by +mentioning people in posts, they’ll get a notification that you re-shared their post (depending on their settings) and they might circle you because you both probably have similar interests.
10. Use images in posts
Using images in posts is incredibly useful. Google+ puts a lot of emphasis on photographs, so not using images in a post can be a bad idea. Using an image will grab people’s attention. You can pick up lots more information from an image rather than text in a much shorter amount of time. If one image can sum up an entire paragraph, use it! It’s invaluable!
11. Use “send email to” sparingly
One of the great features of Google+ is that there’s a button when creating a post that lets you send a notification to those people, however you should use it sparingly. It should only be used if it’s very important or is something that a particular Circle needs to know. If you use it very often people will just start to mute you and this means they’ll no longer receive notifications from you, including comments on their posts and direct messages.
12. Understand Google+
Google+ is very different from any other social network that’s come before it. Google+ does have some similarities to other social networks, but it’s not like Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook and Twitter, you can follow people and they don’t have to follow you back but it’s not quite the same.
You can mention people in posts by +mentioning them — do this by hitting “+” and then typing their name. You can send a private message to them by +mentioning them in a post and removing other Circles from the post. You can also send people an email via Google+ profile and it goes to their inbox, or message them via Hangouts.
The +1 button is like “liking” or “favoriting” something, although it’s much more logical. A +1 could mean many things such as “I like this post,” “I agree with you on this comment,” “this article is great” and so on.
Sharing is also a big thing. Re-share other people’s posts and them with other people on your profile, publicly or privately. There’s quite a re-sharing culture on Google+ so don’t be alarmed if somebody has re-shared a post of yours. If you don’t want somebody to re-share, lock the post.
Google+ is everywhere. Google+ “sign-in” is on many websites as well as the +1 button. Google+ “sign-in” is on many services and games as well. Signing-in with Google+ on a game on iOS or Android means achievements and game saves are synced across platforms. You can also compete with people in your Circles on Google+, making gaming better.
Google+ is ad-free and always will be, which is another great feature of the platform. It doesn’t need annoying ads in your news feed to support itself because Google is behind it — this means no more sponsored posts, featured pages or pages begging you to follow them like on other networks.
Do you use Google+ yet? What do you think of it — any favorite features I left out? To compare social networks, check out this infographic comparing Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Featured image courtesy of smtatertot13 licensed via Creative Commons.