Have you been hesitant about jumping in to the Google+ social network? Well, now’s the time – Google announced in December that it’s online community has reached over 500 million members.
Google+ is like Facebook in that it’s a robust social network in which people can connect with friends and colleagues, post status updates, share photos, videos, and other content, and discover trends. It’s similar to Twitter in the way you follow people and are followed by them. Google+ uses what it calls Circles which are categories of people such as friends, family, acquaintances, professional contacts, etc. You can add anyone you want to any of your circles without an approval of a friend request. And people can follow you by adding you to their circles.
One unique feature really makes Google+ stand out and that’s its Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts are group video chats that can include up to 10 people. Hangouts can be broadcast live by enabling the ‘Hangouts on Air’ check box when setting up the hangout. Your video chat will then be broadcasted both on the Google+ and YouTube channels. Your public hangout will then be recorded and the video and will be made available on your Google+ homepage at the end of the chat. I can think of a million ways that libraries could make use of Google+ Hangouts for live author chats, instructional sessions, book groups, etc.
So, how do you get started? Here’s a quick guide to get you going.
1. Create Your Profile
It all starts here: http://plus.google.com. Click in to create your profile and fill it in with as much information as possible. You’ll get more out of the social network if you fill out the “About” section with info about your job, your bio, your educational details, etc.
2. Claim Your Content
You’ll definitely want to claim the content you create in your Google+ profile. This is called Authorship and comes will many benefits in Google search results. I just wrote a detailed post on this called Five Compelling Reasons You’ll Want to Claim Authorship on Google+. Check that out for more details.
3. Find People
Google+ has a few ways to find people and add friends. It unfortunately does not offer an import of friends from Facebook at this time. But you can access your Yahoo and GMail email contacts. Click on the “Find People” option on the left navigation bar and toggle through the Suggestions on the right for importing email contacts. You’ll also see that in the center, Google+ has suggested many people that you may know. You can quickly add each individual to one of your circles. At the top, you can see 3 tabs that you can toggle through – “Find People”, “Added You”, and “Your Circles”. If you click into the “Added You” tab, you’ll see people that have you in their circles. You can quickly add them into yours here. And to see everyone in your circles, just click into the final tab, “Your Circles”. This is also where you can create new circles – at the bottom of this page.
4. Start Posting, Commenting, and Socializing
Start with the Home button on the left navigation and check out the stream of updates, photos, and other shared content from people in your circles. If you like an update, give it a +1 (which is similar to a “Like” on Facebook), or comment on or share the post with others.
Choose the Explore button on the left navigation and start checking out what’s hot and recommended. Click into some trending topics, suggested communities, and pages you might like.
And post some status updates of your own!
5. Join Communities
Click into the Communities button and search for some of your interests or career pursuits. You’ll quickly see that there are many communities of people who share your interests. This is a great way to get to know people in this social network.
6. Start a Hangout
And when you’re feeling more comfortable, jump into or start your own video chat! For a complete guide to how Hangouts work, check out this great article, Getting started with Google+ Hangouts.