The Beginner's Guide to Google+

Google+ is the second largest social network with over 300 million active users and 70% of all top brands featuring on the platform. Yet, by many the place is still considered a ghost town; a network that hasn’t ‘taken off’ and one that is nowhere near as popular as Facebook or Twitter.
As these figures stand to reason that Google+ is in fact booming, does the true problem lie in the fact that some of us just don’t like change, that we aren’t really sure how to use the network and that we find it all a little too different?
Despite any preconceptions and reservations, Google+ has a strong, active presence in the social media world and so it is important for brands to tap in to all it has to offer. This short guide will explore the main features of Google+ so anybody can get started and begin to discover the network’s full potential.

Your home stream resembles your News Feed on Facebook. It displays posts from the people you are following and you can share these posts or leave comments and +1s. There is also the option to filter the posts you see by selecting Circles of people from the top menu bar (more about Circles a little later).

Your profile can be customised with a banner, information about you, photos, videos, links and more. Here you can post updates and view all of your past posts.
People and Circles
The people section of Google+ is the area where you can browse who you’re following and who’s following you as well as find more people to follow. Google will give suggestions for people to follow and you can search your email contacts for people on Google+ that you might know.
When you’re following quite a few people, it is handy to use the Circles feature to categorise your connections into groups. There are some default Circles but you can create and name Circles as you like. For example, you might have Circles for family, friends and work colleagues and you can add people to these circles using the drag and drop function in the Circles panel.
Using Circle categories also gives you more control over who can see your posts. You can select which circles you’d like to share your posts with or even browse your people to make a more specific choice.
You can share up to 15GB of photos on your Google+ profile. Images can be uploaded directly from the photos panel in the navigation bar or by attaching them to a post. You can also select which of your circles or connections can see your photos or whether you’d like them to be completely public or private. Photos are automatically enhanced for improved brightness and contrast but you do have the option to undo these changes.
What’s Hot
The ‘What’s Hot’ stream will display posts that are popular from various profiles across the network and will show the trending topics at the given time. Google also uses this area to give suggestions of popular people, pages and communities that you might like to follow.
Communities are essentially groups of users where content is shared and discussions take place. There are communities to suit almost every topic of interest from horses and photography to social media and politics. When you are a member of a community you can post content, leave comments and +1 posts.
Hangouts is a nifty, popular feature that helps Google+ to stand out from its competitors. On Hangouts you can start chats with or without video with up to 10 people and stream live videos with Hangouts on Air. There’s also a Hangouts on Air feed where you can browse the current live streams taking place.
The Events feature is a great tool for promotion. You can create an event and share it with who you like or you can browse events that are popular on the network.
Google+ Pages can be used to promote your business, brand, product or service. They work exactly the same as your Google+ profile but offer extra features such as the integration of a Google Places account and the opportunity to promote your page on the network.
Feeling all set to take a leap into the world of Google+? It’s really not as scary as you might think. Do let us know how you get on!


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