Google Plus Guide

How to use Google Plus: Tips for New Users
As a Google+ user since its launch in 2011 I’ve often had conversations with other journalists and social media advocates about my choices. Most recently, helping a fellow blogger find their way around, inspiring this guide with advice and helpful tips.
Like most of us I can also be found on the more popular platforms of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which all have their own benefits in the professional or personal realms, but G+ has always struck me as the best multi-purpose platform. Some might say it’s a ghost town, but I say these people are missing out.
Get started by signing up with a gmail account and adding a picture, cover photo, and profile information to your Google Plus profile. On your profile page, use the ‘About’ tab and edit the relevant sections, controlling who can see which information. Your profile tabs can also include photos, YouTube videos, and +1’s (more about those later).

A complete Google Plus Profile can help to increase your visibility in search results and with Google Authorship. By linking your profiles, websites, blogs etc. you can verify your authorship and have your profile shot and bio appear on searches and certain websites.
Once you have become an established user, Google will offer a custom URL name instead of a user ID number. Until then, try a site such as in order to create a custom URL such as

Your notifications appear in the top right hand corner of your profile and also correspond with other google accounts including Gmail, Blogger and YouTube. Settings and email preferences can be set from here, and you can respond, mute or reply to notifications. This is a great tool for staying up-to-date and multitasking across different platforms.

The innovative circle feature is easy to use, allowing you to place your connections into customisable circles. Google offers the group suggestions of friends and acquaintances, but these can be added to, renamed, and expanded to meet your needs. In the main drop-down menu select ‘People’ to see your circles, those who have added you, and suggestions. You can create as many circles as you need, with one or multiple people in each. 

It’s in this way that G+ can seamlessly cross the boundaries between personal and professional social networking. This feature allows simple control over your privacy, by controlling which circles can view the content you share. 
Posting on G+ offers everything you could need for social networking. You can post text, images, links, events, moods and location tags. Simply share any medium of content and select who can view your post. You can send a private message by tagging a connection with the @ or + command, limit visibility to selective circles, or create a public post.
HTML code is also recognised within G+ posts; try using asterisks around a word to bold, underscores for italics or hyphens to strike through words.
Content is tracked for trends in the form of hashtags which are automatically created from keywords within your posts. The most popular trending content appears on your homepage.
Your Google Plus homepage, or newsfeed, is the hub of all your G+ content. On the left hand side is the home button, with a drop-down menu to your profile, photos, communities, hangouts, pages and more. At the top of the page is a search bar, for browsing G+ people, pages and posts. 

The stream feed shows content from people in your circles and communities and this can be customised by selecting just the relevant groups you wish to view. You can also explore suggestions and trending content.

Image sharing on Google is linked to Picassa, with images you upload being shared to a Picassa account. This makes it easier to upload, edit and organise your photos on G+. Photo tagging is also available, with face recognition suggestions. In the same way as posts, you can control the visibility of individual photos and albums by sharing with circles or publicly.

Google+ Communities are perfect for group discussions, sharing content, and interacting with like-minded users. You can create a new community, join those which are open, or request an invitation for closed ones. Posting within a community can also be organised by categories for different content.

One of the original G+ features is the Hangout option, allowing users to have a live group chat, similar to Skype. This is often used by communities and company or celebrity pages to interact with users for discussion on a certain topic. 
Users can create multiple Google+ pages from your account, which can be linked to business websites. Posting content and creating circles as a page follows the same process as your personal profile and you can easily switch control between different pages.
Plus 1

Alongside the comment and sharing capabilities, G+ also has a +1 feature for posts, photos and pages. This is similar to liking a post on Facebook, but the option is also available for other web content. When you have given a +1 it will be listed on your profile, so you can browse your favourite content and see the interests of others.

For bloggers, G+ can be linked to Blogspot allowing you to maintain one easy to manage profile. Use the Blogger dashboard to explore the options, such as integrating comments and sharing blog posts automatically.

So how does Google Plus compare to other social networking sites? With superior privacy controls, content trending and tailored professional features, G+ offers the best of all worlds. For many, it is the next stage of social networking which is continuing to grow and expand.

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