Google Plus for Beginners

A Google Plus Guide for BeginnersGoogle Plus was long seen as a pointless social media platform, especially among the large number that already existed such as Facebook and Twitter – one quote that was said at the time of launch compared it to going down the pub “why would I want to go to another pub when all my friends are already here!”.

However, two years since its launch Google Plus has found itself being the second largest social media site in the world and has on average 235 million active users. This is largely thought to be due to the added extras offered on Google Plus but could also be due to the fact that companies are getting themselves a Google Plus page as it is thought to help Google crawl your site and therefore helps getting your site ranked faster and higher.

Here at ExtraDigital we have decided to put together the following simple guide to help you set up and use your Google Plus account.

A Guide to Google Plus for Beginners

Before you set up your Google Plus account you must first ensure that you have a Google account, you can create this account quite simply by using the following link – Google Account Set Up. Remember that you don’t need to create a new Gmail email address; you can use your current email address simply by clicking the link below the ‘Choose your username’ field which says ‘I prefer to use my current email address’. If you already have a Google account (you use one to sign into YouTube among other things) then again you don’t need to set up a Google account, you can use the one you already have.

A Google Plus Guide for Beginners: Signing into Google

To then get onto Google Plus you simply sign into Google using the ‘Sign In’ button on the top right of the Google homepage and then click on the +(YourName) link shown in the top right also.

Once you have signed in and click on the +(YourName) button it will lead you to the next steps. The first step is to create circles.

Creating ‘Circles’

When you first use Google Plus it will bring up a screen of suggestions for people you might know or want to follow. Yes, I said follow, just like how you follow someone on Twitter. On Twitter these connections are simply called ‘Following’ on Google Plus it means that when you follow someone you are including them in your Circle. By creating this Circle it means that you can see what they publish just like on Twitter where you can see what they have Tweeted.

The main difference between Google Plus and Twitter is that on Google+ you can categorise people when you add them to your Circle into four different categories, these are ‘Family’, ‘Friends’, ‘Acquaintances’ and ‘Following’. You also have the option of creating your own categories to add people to, for example you can put all ExtraDigital staff members on Google Plus into an ‘ExtraDigital’ category. Putting your connections into these categories means that you can filter certain Circles and people to create more tailored feeds.

After you have created Circles, Google Plus will ask for you to add information to your Google Plus profile so that people on Google Plus are able to see who you are.

Adding Information to your Google Plus Profile

Google Plus wants you to have information on your profile so that your profile begins to develop and other users of Google Plus can see if they wish to add you to their Circle. Unlike Twitter which is very much about words, Google Plus is very visual and it loves nothing more than images. The first image you need is your profile picture.

Your profile picture should be of you, if it is a company Google Plus page then by all means make it the company logo. Just so you are aware, if you are not already, the profile picture is shown as a Circle (Google Plus really loves Circles) which might affect how your photo is seen so make sure that you are centred in your image. This profile picture must be a minimum of 250 x 250 pixels so that it can be shown without blurring etc. Once you have your profile picture selected you need to choose the next image which can be used as your cover photo (very much like Facebook’s use of a profile picture and a cover photo). Your cover photo is much larger than the profile picture, a size of 2120 x 1192 pixels. You can add both of these photos to your profile simply by clicking where the profile picture is shown and clicking on the camera icon for the profile picture or the ‘Change Cover’ button for the cover photo.

Once the images have been set up, Google Plus should then take you through the process of adding background information about yourself. Once you have done this then you are ready to start browsing the feeds and your Circles.

Note: If Google Plus does not automatically bring you to your profile page and instead brings you to the home page then simply go to the ‘Home’ button in the top left and select ‘Profile’ from the options provided.

Navigating Google Plus

You can navigate Google Plus with relative ease, on the left side under the ‘Home’ button is around ten options to choose from, many of which I will cover in the rest of this guide. Whilst on the right side is your ‘Hangouts’ box which lists the individuals or companies in your Circles. This right hand ‘Hangouts’ box allows you like Facebook instant messaging to instant message and video chat those in your circle that are also online at that moment.

Between the left options and the ‘Hangout’ on the right is the core of Google Plus, this is where all the posts from yourself and your Circles will appear. You can filter this feed using the top bar selection as shown in the image below.

A Google Plus Guide for Beginners: Navigating

If you want to see only your posts then go to your profile page, found using the ‘Home’ button in the top left and selecting ‘Profile’ from the options given.

Interacting with Google Plus

Interacting with these posts is easy, there are a number of things you can do such as....

  • +1’ing a post – the same as ‘liking’ a post on Facebook
  • Sharing a post
  • Commenting on a post

There is also more you can do with the post by using the downwards arrow symbol on the top right of each post such as viewing the activity of the post, embedding the post, linking to the post and many more. Of course you can also create your own post.

How to Post on Google Plus

To put a post on Google Plus you need to select the ‘Share what’s new...’ box (as shown below on the left) which can be found at the top of your feed between the left home options and the right ‘Hangout’ box. Clicking on this field will cause the box to expand to the following set (as shown on the right below).

From this you can compose your message in the ‘Share what’s new...’ box, attach any photos, links, videos and events using the buttons displayed below the ‘Share what’s new...’ box and then set who you would like the message to be shown to.

There are a couple of options for you to choose from, there is ‘Public’ meaning that anyone in or out of your Circle can see your post. ‘Your Circle’ which means you would like to allow anyone in your Circle to view the post, ‘Extended Circle’ which means that you would like anyone in your Circle and in your Circle’s Circle to be able to view the post and also you can select one or many of your categories such as ‘Family’ and ‘Friends’.

Once you have completed the post as stated then simply click ‘Share’ and your post has been created and posted.

Hashtag Use on Google Plus

Another way in which Google Plus is very similar to Twitter is in its use of hashtags. Using hashtags in your post help people to find your post and make your post more relevant to the users of Google Plus.

Extras on Google Plus

One of the popular extras on Google Plus is the use of the ‘What’s Hot’ Section, this extra can be found on the left sidebar of the social media platform and shows all of the posts, topics and hashtags that are currently ‘Hot’/trending on Google at that point in time.

You can also get a Google Plus mobile app which will allow you to use Google Plus on the move, they have also created a standalone app for its ‘Hangouts’ feature so that you can interact with your Circles instantly.

This Guide was Written by Katie Butcher

Wednesday 11th December 2013

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