I caved. I finally decided to join Google+ and see what all the buzz is about. I think the hardest part is adjusting to the change because it’s not Facebook. The good news is that if you could learn to navigate Facebook in the beginning, you can do so with Google+. Luckily, you’ll have some help if you follow these simple steps and take a look at these fancy screen shots.
Remember that Google+ is still in beta. This means it is still in the trial phase and things may not always work properly (although so far, I haven’t noticed any glitches.) While still in this phase, Google+ does not currently have a platform for businesses to create a profile (One thing at a time people!) However, there are some really cool tools that will help you make connections like you would with Twitter and Facebook.
Another thing to know before you get started: You cannot join the Google+ network without a Gmail e-mail account.
Step 1. Sign Up
Have a friend who is currently connected to Google+ send you an invite, or go to the homepage and join. Fill out your username and password information. You will then be directed to your welcome page:
Here, you’ll find a complete layout of all the cool features that Google+ has including Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, and Chat.
Step 2. Complete Profile
On the welcome page, click the blue button to complete your profile. You will then have the chance to type in relevant information about yourself, work, and education.
If ever you need to edit your profile, check out the top of your page and select profile:
You’ll find a blue “Edit profile” button. To edit any particular subject area, click on it and re-enter the information.
Step 3. Build Your Circles
Building circles is a lot like adding friends on Facebook. This feature is neat because it allows you to separate your friends, family, acquaintances, etc. There is also the option to name and create your own circle, and you can drop people into more than one circle. Think Venn diagrams.
Step 4. View Your Home Page and Make Your First Post
You are now ready to make your first post. You will do this on your homepage. Before you click share, you can choose which circle you’d like to share your post with, or you may select all. (I really like this because of the amount of privacy it gives you.) After you have completed your post, there are options to
- Edit the post
- Delete the post
- Disable comments on the post
- Disable people from sharing the post
On your homepage, you can also view the streams of people in your circles. You can select all streams, or a specific stream, such as Family, on the left side of your homepage. If you have a notification it will show up at the top, right hand corner in red.
Step 5. Check Your Settings
You will also find your settings in that top right corner if you click on the options icon.
On this page you can set your privacy and delivery preferences.
Specifically, you may want to pay attention to the privacy settings for your photos:
Google+ Extra Features
What is +1 and how does it work with Google+?
Google describes the +1 as “Giving the stamp of approval” to something you like. Imagine giving a virtual thumbs up to let your friends know they should check something out.
In your Google+ profile, there is a tab for all your +1s. You have the option to keep this list private or to make it public. The +1 tab works similarly to bookmarking. You can reference sites that you really like, or check out a friend’s profile to find a recently visited site on their tab. Lastly, not only can you +1 sites and favorite links, but you can also +1 comments on your Google profile. This makes +1-ing useful and interactive.
Chat with your Friends:
Through this feature you can chat with your friends that are currently online. If you are previously familiar with Gmail e-mail, this feature is identical to Gmail chat.
Create a Hangout
On the right side of your homepage you will see a button to create a Hangout. To create or participate in a Hangout you will need a webcam. This works very much like Gmail’s e-mail chat, however, you are interacting live through a video feed, which is more personal and fun! Google+ allows you to “ha ngout” with up to 10 people at one time. I have not personally participated in a hangout yet, but I hope to become more comfortable with it soon.
Play with Sparks
Sparks is a search feature on Google+ that allows you to find updates, articles, photos, and information on things you’re interested in. You can click the “Add interest” button for easier future access.
The Google+ network is different, but interesting and refreshing. Use this Cheat Sheet to help you navigate the network more easily. If you’re still having trouble understanding how it works, @SimplyZesty makes it pretty clear here in their Idiots Guide to Google+
It’s now your move. Are you already connected? What are you thoughts on Google+, and are there other tricks and features that you’ve discovered?