Google+ Tips for Beginners

Google+ is proving to be a well-designed platform for interaction, and the newish social network is already driving steady traffic to this site. It also is, I predict, going to become a major player in search traffic in the future as Google puts more emphasis on social in its results. Still, I hear a lot of people say they have tried it and can’t get into it. Here are some Google+ tips for beginners to help you jump in and get into the G+ groove.

Google+ Tip #1: Get Circling

I will grant you, the Google+ stream can feel slow moving. I find that Google+ is a wonderful place for conversation. If you have very few people in your circles, your stream will be excruciatingly boring. A great way to find friends is simply to see who Google+ suggests who is already there. You can find people to circle, and you can find contacts from Hotmail, Yahoo and via uploading a contact list.

Also be sure to submit your profile and follow others at the Google+ Profile Linkup.

Many members also share circles. For example, you can follow my circle of Type-A Parent Conference 2012 attendees. In my next post, I will add a Google+ Profile Linkup as well, so you can add your profile and find others. Once you have more people, the activity does improve.

Tip: Search the Google+ stream for “shared a circle” (in quotes) to see shared circles to follow. You can narrow the search to your circles by mousing over “From Everyone,” and selecting “Your Circles.”

The main issue is that many are members but not yet active. Vow to pop in once a day and look at the updates in your circle, and odds are pretty good you will see something interesting. Google+ has lots of members, but it still seems to be at early adopter stage when it comes to active members.

Google+ Tip #2: Jump Into the Conversation

I love the conversation on Google+. It is honestly oftentimes more interesting, meaningful and has more depth than other social networks. When you are looking at your stream, watch for a post that is getting comments already and put in your own thoughts. Just be aware if you do it on a profile like Chris Brogan’s, you might want to unsubscribe from email notifications when dozens more comment after you.

Better yet, post an update that encourages conversation. Ask a question. Debate something. Seek feedback or input. I find that comments are slower to come on Google+ at times, but they are much better comments. If you know someone who is smart on the topic or would have an opinion, tag that person in (if you are following, you simply type + and then a pulldown with names is there and you enter the first few letters of the name and then select). We have become Twitter-ized so much that we expect responses within seconds. The pace at Google+ is less instant.

Google+ Tip #3: Download the App

For me, the biggest challenge has been Google+ competing for my time. Twitter and Facebook have so much of my attention, and I also spend time on many other social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on. If you aren’t ready to dedicate another chunk of your workday to yet another core social network, consider downloading the free app (here is Google+ for iTunes and here is Google+ for Android). That way, you can hop into Google+ anytime to view the stream and comment, post a picture or post an update. You can also get notifications when people mention you or follow you. Since it is an app, the interface is also easier to use.

Google+ Tip #4: Just Hang Out

One of the coolest features of Google+ is the option to Hang Out. Turn on your webcam, go to your Google+ homepage and click Start a Hangout. Invite a bunch of friends and try it out.

If that is more assertive than you want to be, you can also see who is already hanging out and join in. Search “is hanging out” on Google+ and you can see which hangouts are already going on right now. If you want to narrow it down to your friends, again you can mouse over “From Everyone” and choose “Your Circles.” You can also find many who do creative things with Google+ Hangouts such as live shows.

Google+ Tip #5: Refine Your Circles

The amazing thing about Google+ is its ability to update only certain groups with Circles. Take some time organizing your circles. For example, I have circles for parents and for locals. When I see something really interesting that is happening in Asheville, I can push it out only to Asheville people. I can also view just one circle’s stream of updates.

It can be tempting to dump people into a few of the default circles, but spend an afternoon really organizing your contacts into specific circles. Then experiment with updates that are interesting to each circle. You might find that, sure, fewer people see the updates but you get a better response.

There also seem to be an awful lot of weird spammers on Google+. If they follow you, you can block them (or just ignore). If they comment, don’t hesitate to report them as spam. I have, and found the profiles are gone very quickly.

How about you? Are you on Google+ and are you active? Are you hesitant to join? Have you joined and just can’t seem to get into it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.