For most people, Facebook is the go-to place for connecting with one’s social network. Yet Google+ has created a unique “circles” model to separate people into distinct groups. It’s a lot easier than on Facebook, where awkward situations can arise when dealing with information of a more personal nature.
Create any number of circles, say, for your “baseball team”, “alumni” or “knitting group” – then share what you want with each circle. For example, reveal contact details, location, and relationships to your friends circle; share your employment history and education with your business circle. Like Facebook, Google+ lets you create separate Pages for business as well.
Just as in other social networks, creating a public profile is the first step. But Google+ only requires your first name; other information may be kept private. You can also map out places you’ve been and easily add other social sites to your profile. Be sure to set email notifications to your taste, like being alerted when someone adds you to their circles or mentions you in a post.
Next, click on the double circle icon to create circles and add people to them. Begin by naming an empty circle or dragging someone to a circle, and then naming it. Then add people: search by name, connect with your online email accounts, like Gmail, and see people who have added you to their circles. You can even add people you see in Google search directly to one of your circles.
Posts and Streams
Like Facebook, you’ll want to keep people engaged by creating interesting and useful content, which will appear in your “stream.” Your posts may be shared with individuals or with an entire circle, and through the circles you’ve been added to, it’s up to you who will see your messages. You can lock your posts and prevent people from resharing by clicking on the small arrow to the right of your post. Use the + or @ shortcut in front of a name to add them to a message or comment.
As with Facebook’s “like” button, the +1 button indicates a positive recommendation, wherever it appears. Add one to your website, so visitors can weigh in with their opinion. +1’s in search results indicate pages liked by your social connections.
One of the really unique features of Google+ is the ability to have conversations by video and instant message, not with just one person, but with up to nine other people at once. Google+ calls these “Hangouts.” You can create your own or join one for fun and watch a YouTube video together. And for business, hold live Q&A’s, publicize upcoming events or simply conduct a meeting.