Google+ might seem to be playing second fiddle to Pinterest and Facebook right now, but there are a lot of good reasons to use it. Where Facebook is a place to catch up with friends and Pinterest is a place to browse for cool stuff, Google+ is all about making new friends and building communities around shared interests.
In addition, if you’re trying to build a business or build a following on the web, then Google+ is a good place to start because it’s so closely integrated with Google Search. If you’re ready to explore Google+, here’s how to begin.
Sign up for Google+ at plus.google.com using your Google ID and password — if you don’t have one you can get one there. Then click the ‘Profile’ link on the left and start working on your profile.
You can add a large cover photo, which will be cropped to 940 x 180, or use five 110 x 100 images instead and add a profile photo that will be cropped to 250 x 250. It’s a good idea to add images now, as it tells others you’re serious about using Google+.
Then, complete your ‘About’ information with details of who you are and what you do. Add links to your blogs, web site and where you work, if desired.
Find similar people
To find people with shared interests, search on Google+ using hashtags like on Twitter. So for example, type #mountain #biking to find people using those hashtags in their posts.
Click a person to visit their profile page and learn more about them. To follow them, click the ‘Follow’ button — you don’t need to get permission to follow someone like you do on Facebook. People you follow will be notified that you’re following them, but there’s no requirement that they follow you back, so don’t be offended if they don’t — it’s not expected.
Organise with Circles
Once you’ve followed a few people it’s time to get organised, so go to ‘Circles’ to create groups of people you follow. No-one knows which circles you have them in and they’re merely a tool for you to use to manage your Stream.
This is where using Chrome as your browser really helps, as you can drag and drop people into Circles in Chrome very easily. One person can be in one or multiple Circles or none — it’s up to you.
Later on you can view the conversation in individual Circles by clicking ‘Home’ and selecting a Circle from the ‘More’ list. You can also adjust the volume on a Circle to see more or less of the conversations in it.
Post, Comment, Like & Share
To create a post, click ‘Home > Share What’s New’ and type your post. Add a big image — Google+ displays much larger photos than Facebook. Click to choose who will see the post — add one or more Circles or make it ‘Public’. Click ‘Share’.
Google+ has ‘+1’ just as Facebook has ‘Like’. To ‘+1’ someone’s post, click the ‘+1’ button below it. To comment, click ‘Add a comment’ and type your comment. To mention someone in a post or comment, type + before their Google+ name — it’s called plus mentioning.
To share a post you like, click the ‘Share’ button to send the post out on your Google+ Stream so people who follow you will see the post. It’s a good idea to add some explanation as to why you’re sharing.