This tutorial is intended for people who are planning to create a new Google+ account, or have recently created one. It will only cover the basics. Google+, originally called Google Circles, is a social networking and an ‘authorship’ site that helps users connect or associate everything Google with their name or business. The many things you can do in Google+ include:
- Completing a User profile. Like any social networking site, you have the opportunity to introduce yourself, your business, and your interests to the world.
- Posting to your Stream. Google+ Streams are similar to Facebook Walls. This is where you post content of all kinds, including text, photographs, links, video, or events.
- Creating and inviting others to your Circles. Circles are groups of friends and associates. Google+ initially offers four categories, but you can create your own.
- Using Hangouts. A Hangout is an online meeting place with an amazing array of tools such as multiple video capability, a whiteboard, a way to share your screen, and more.
- Recommending others or getting recommended with the +1 button. This is similar to Facebook’s Like button. You can +1 a post others can +1 your posts.
Google+ was introduced to the world in the summer of 2011 and has since become the second most popular social media site on the Web, surpassing Twitter’s popularity.
Create a Google Account
In order to use Google+ or its many associated services –YouTube, Blogger, Gmail and so forth– you will need a Google account. Skip this section if you already have a Google account.
- In your Web browser, go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.
- Fill in the required fields (first and last name, user name, birthdate, password, etc.).
- Type the verification code.
- Add a profile photo.
- Agree to the terms.
Note: right after you type your preferred username, and move to the password field, you’ll find out if that username is available. If it’s not, try another. You also have the choice to use an existing e-mail address that belongs to you.
Adding Friends to Circles and Creating Circles
If you’ve just created your Google+ account, you may end up in Gmail. If you do, look for a link that has your Google user name. It will appear at the top right corner of the screen; for example, +Pat. Click the link and Google+ will open in a new window.
The first time you access Google+ –possibly the first few times– you will be prompted to add friends to one or more of your Circles. You’ll see a screen that says Add people you know, as shown below. Hover the mouse button over the Add button beside the name of someone you’d like in one of your circles. Click the checkbox(es) for one or more of the four default Circles – Family, Friends, Acquaintances, or Following. Create a new Circle by clicking the Create new circle link, typing a name for the Circle, and then clicking Create. People are added to Circles immediately, and will be notified that you added them. They will not know which Circle you’ve added them to.
Note: to add people to Circles later on, hover the mouse over the Home button near the top-left corner of the screen, and then click People.
Complete a User Profile
Like any social networking site, your user profile may never be “complete”, as it’s always a work-in-progress. With that in mind, as soon as (or even before) you’ve added people to your Circles, you’ll want to flesh out your profile.
- Hover the mouse over the main menu, and then choose Profile.
- Consider changing your cover (the banner that runs across the top of the page). To do that, hover the mouse anywhere over the default cover image and then click Change cover. You will be presented with a gallery of photos you can choose from, but you can also choose one from one of the other links – Upload, Albums, or cover photo.
- Whether or not you change your Cover image, click the About link underneath the cover, and then add or update as much content as you can. Each major section of your profile will have an Edit link. Click that link, and fill-in your information.
Give someone a +1
As soon as your Google+ account begins to get active with feeds from friends, if you like a story or other content you read, click the + button you see at the bottom left corner of the post. This will tell the author you liked their content. It’s that simple, and it gets even better: when you’re surfing the Net one day, look for a +1 button beside or below an article you’re reading. If the button is there, you can click it to show that you’re publicly recommending the content. You can also comment on the content.
Start a Hangout!
This is also worthy of a separate tutorial, and parts of using Hangouts can be somewhat advanced. But we want to gain your interest, and tell you how to get started with Hangouts. A Hangout is an online meeting place. It can be as simple as a text chat with another Google user, or as involved as a video Hangout with you and up to nine of your friends.
To start a Hangout with one or more friends:
- Sign into your Google+ account.
- Near the top-right corner of your screen, click in the box showing the magnifying glass (it says New Hangout in it).
- Begin to type the name of someone you know.
- Click on the name/picture of your friend, or click checkboxes for each friend in turn you want in your Hangout.
- If your friend(s) are online in Google, you can now chat by typing in the Send a message text box near the bottom of the Hangout window.
To start a video Hangout with one or more friends:
Before you begin, make sure you turn your video camera and audio device on.
- Sign into your Google+ account.
- At the bottom-right corner of your screen, hover the mouse over Start a video Hangout. Then click the green button that says Start a video Hangout. A new window will appear.
- [OPTIONAL] The first time you start a video Hangout you will need to install the free plug-in Google offers. To do that, click the link and then save or save run the installation program. This may take a few minutes.
- The Hangout will open in the new window. Providing you have video on, you’ll see yourself in the window.
- Click the Join button.
Assuming you don’t want to have a solo Hangout, click the Invite people button. If your friends are online, you’ll begin to see their video feeds when they join the Hangout.
As you get used to Video Hangouts, try using the tools – such as Chat, or YouTube. Those and other tools can be found on the left side of the screen.
Note: Hangouts are not private unless you have a paid Google Premium account. Do not discuss or share anything confidential. Also video Hangouts can use serious computer resources. If you need to, you can ‘mute’ your own video feed to make the Hangout proceed more smoothly.
Do you like what you’ve read? There is much more to Google+, as you’ve no doubt noticed. It’s popular, fully featured, and definitely recommended by many experts as one of the key social media platforms for sharing information about you or about what you know.