Google Plus: The Definitive Getting Started Guide [UPDATED]

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Getting Started On Google Plus Guide Why Google+

I am happy to report that Google Plus is now the #2 social network, after Facebook.  No longer is it saddled with the distinction of being the social network you love to hate.

“Ghost Town”, “The Dead Zone”, and a host of other less than flattering  names are a thing of the past.  That being said, many people are still weary of giving it a shot.  Some even go so far as to dredge up it’s  unpopulated past.

There are numerous theories abound as to why there are so many G+ haters, but my best guess is that people don’t like change.  Most are comfortable on Facebook.  They are vaguely apathetic.  They do not want to leave their comfort zone.  Google+ can wait.

I challenge the thinking that Google+ is not a priority.  In fact, I believe it should be your #1 priority and here is why:

1. Google Plus is Not a “Facebook Killer”

To start with, the “either or” mentality is shortsighted   Google has known from the start that they do not need to be a replacement for Facebook, they simply need to be an alternative.  Google+ is a completely unique space with unique features that you cannot find anywhere else.  It is the best of the social graph rolled up into one far, far reaching network.

2. Google Knows What We Are Looking For

The King of Search is fully aware of what people want, what they need.  They have spent the past 10+ years analyzing what people search for, the results they favor, and more importantly  market trends.

3.  Google+ Brings People Together

Google understand people and their innate desire to be surrounded by like-minded individuals.  More importantly, Google created three tools to do so quickly and easily:

  1. Circles –  Similar to Twitter lists, but fast, easy and visual.
  2. Communities – Similar to Facebook Groups, but better organized and with respect for our privacy.  Read all about communities here.
  3. Hangouts – Video chat rooms with Skype calling functionality.  Plus, it’s free, can be recorded and/or broadcast live.

4. Google is a Social Search Trailblazer

Its not a coincidence that the world’s most successful search engine has added superior search functionality on Google Plus.  Add to that the ability to use hashtags and now Google has given us a phenomenal way of searching across the entire social graph.

5. Google IS Search

This is kind of a no-brainer, but let me toss it out there.  Google+ was created to be the social side of Google.  Google is search.  When people say they know SEO, what they really should say is they claim to know how to get found on Google.

Let me put it in simple terms.  Google+ is Google.  Content shared on Google Plus is being indexed almost immediately and showing up in search results faster and and with greater frequency.  Add in Rich Snippets, and the value proposition is obvious.

How To “Do” Google+

You cannot fully appreciate the phenomenal opportunities offered by Google+ until you experience it for yourself.  You need to take a test drive and see what she has under the hood.  Here is an outline to get your started.

Adding another network to your social graph can seem daunting and terribly time consuming.  It doesn’t have to be.  I challenge you to set aside a half hour each day, for a week.  Just thirty minutes.  For seven days.  Follow these simple steps.  If you do this faithfully for one week, you will be hooked.  Trust me.  :)

Complete Yourself

Renee Zellweger may have told Tom Cruise “You complete me” in Jerry Maguire, but this is reality.   Complete yourself.  Add a profile image and a banner image.  A new #googleplusupdate has added a few new features, the most noticeable being a larger cover photo (minimum 480px x 270px and up to 2120px by 1192px) to replace the banner image.  With an approximate aspect ratio of 16 x 9 when displayed, your cover photo is sure to grab attention so make it memorable.
Kim Reynolds New Google Plus Timeline Banner

Be sure to complete the various “cards”:  People, Story, Work, Places, Education, Basic Information, Contact Information, Apps and Links. NOTE: You can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them private.

Be conscientious, detailed, and specific when you fill out the information on your cards.  This is the information that will determine what people know about you, whether or not your have anything in common and most importantly  if they decide to circle you, which circle to add you to.

Create Your Circles

When you create your Google+ profile using a Gmail account or your Google Apps email, Google will ask you if you want to add people you know.  This is a great way to start to build your circles.  You can also have Google suggest friends by going https://plus.google.com/people/find.

By far the best way to grow your circles is to utilize one of these four methods:

  1. Use the Google+ search bar and do a search for “circle share keywords” with keywords being replaced with topics you are interested in, such as Battlestar Galactica, Homeland, Social Media, Believers, the Packers, etc.
  2. You can also do a search in Google Plus for “shared a circle with you” (leave it in the quotation marks). That will bring up posts of shared circles from all of the G+ users that posted their circles publicly.  You will have to wade through a lot of data, but it is worth it.
  3. Another, much easier way to find shared circles is possible thanks to the creation of a public Google Doc. This frequently updated doc lists a massive array of publicly shared circles. The circles are labeled with keywords, number of members and name of the person who originally shared the circle.  You can check it out at  Shared Circles Google + Doc
  4. The final way to find shared circles is to go to the Google Plus page called Shared Circles on G+ Page They also have a page for sharing business pages at G+ Business Pages Directory.

A good rule of thumb is to circle anywhere from 200 – 500 people to start.  Not all are going to circle you back.  You can circle me, drop me a line saying your found me from this article and I WILL circle you back.  Guaranteed.

Join Communities

Communities are phenominally powerful.  You can read all about them here, on SocialNotz, or in my article for Steamfeed.

If you are interested in Social Media, you should visit our Social Media Mentors community on Google.  It has a powerful membership pof over 2,000 social media professionals who mentor small businesses and individuals.  Our goal is to give back to the online community by sharing our vast knowledge of marketing and digital media.

Create and curate

Talk about what interests you by creating fresh content or curating interesting content, then posting it to your profile.  Be sure to make your posts “public” so that everyone can see them.  Otherwise, they will be limited to your circles.  Frequent posting is the best way of finding like-minded people to interact with.   You can share videos, pictures, articles, quotes – basically anything you find of value.

Another great idea is to thoughtfully engage with other Plussers.  Make comments, tag people in your comments by using the + sign in front of their name.  Share other peoples content and be sure to tag them in your post.   I don’t know a single writer worth their salt who is not interested in what people think about their work.  If you like something, but don’t want to share it with your audience, you can simply give it a virtual thumbs up by hitting the +1 button.

Conclusion

The benefits of creating a strong presence on Google+ for yourself and your brand cannot be overemphasized.  To emphasize this, this survey by Hitwise reports that Google has the #1 mobile website overall in the US and dominates 5 of the top 10 mobile sites: Google, Gmail, News, YouTube and Maps.  Given that mobile internet usage is set to surpass desktop usage by 2014, I think following  Google’s lead is a wise investment for your time…especially when you can invest as little as 30 minutes a day.

Please join us in the Social Media Mentors Google+ community!

 Are you already using Google Plus?  Please leave your link – I would love to chat!

Kimberly

Kimberly

CEO at SocialNotz
Christ follower. Social Media Aficionado and Chief Content Creator at SocialNotz. Founder of the Social Media Mentors community on Google+ Website Designer. Technology Geek.
Kimberly

@kimreynolds

Christ follower | Marketing Manager at @SMExaminer | Social Media Strategist for #leftbehindmovie | CEO of @SocialNotz | #socialmedia #StandWithIsrael #2A
7 Tips to Improve Your Social Media Posts http://t.co/vVhJQtmpMS - 33 mins ago
Kimberly
Kimberly
About the Author

Kimberly

Christ follower. Social Media Aficionado and Chief Content Creator at SocialNotz. Founder of the Social Media Mentors community on Google+ Website Designer. Technology Geek.

18 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Dan. I truly believe that Google Plus is unlike any other social network. Those that are willing to put in the work will reap benefits are in excess of any they’re able to achieve elsewhere.

  2. thanks for the run down Kim. I’m trying to get the hang of it, but it still alludes me. Guess I’ll have to try the 30 min./day for 7 days and see if I get hooked….I’ll be circling you!

  3. If it is related to your business, I would post to your business page, then, go to your business page while logged in as your personal, and share from there to your personal page. That way when people visit your personal page, they will see the content from your business account. If they then share, you get double the exposure. Make sure to lik to your business page on the about me section of your personal profile.

    • Thanks so much Steven. I absolutely agree about reputation management. I see a number of companies implementing strategies…some not always completely above board…to push negative articles down and boost positive content.

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