Totally beginner information on Google+ is hard to come by. There's kind of this assumption that you'll just be able to use it and don't really need any help or explanations. I haven't been actively using it up until this week, but for my last post of the week I thought I would sum up some of the tips I have uncovered for getting started.
1. People go in circles. Circles are groups of people kind of a little like lists on Facebook. So you can sort people into catagories. Google provides you with a few suggestions and you can add your own too. I have: Fun & Interesting, Social Media, Crafty Bloggers and Typography so far, but I can see a real likelihood that I'll be adding a lot more. You can share the circles with everyone following you. This is really key to becoming a highly connected individual.
2. The main page might seem like a mishmash of irrelevant and repetitive posts. It's not! Some people are posting things directly to Google+ and therefore, some topics to post about are more popular than others. Exactly like twitter there is a list of trending topics, visible on the right hand side of the main feed. You can use hashtags here that you are probably used to using on twitter too. Click the trending topic to see the most recent posts relating to that topic.
3. So, you are looking at a trending topic feed. How do you engage? You can click the +1 button across the web on blog posts, pictures and articles. You can also click it directly from the main feed. Try it, just +1 some things you like the look of. The poster will get a red notification in the top right of their screen if they are using any Google service, such as analytics, Blogger or Google+ itself. You can also comment on topics and +1 individual comments. All of these will give the poster the red notification, bringing you to their attention.
4. Post stuff! You can post from Blogger straight onto your Google+ feed, instantly making your writing visible to anyone on there. There great thing is that since Google+ is so new, people are keen to engage with others on their and build their reach, so whilst it isn't overrun with spammers and people posting the same thing like twitter, it does mean that people will be more likely to interact with you than on other social networks.
5. Respond - When you are browsing using Google or Blogger, and that red number pops up, click it and see what's happening. This immediate notification when you are doing other things is a great pull for users to keep going back. Has someone made a comment you like on a blog post you put up? Show your appreciation with a +1. Really like their comment? Add them to a circle, you might find they add you back.
It might seem a little quiet or that most of the people that you like to interact with on a daily basis aren't posting on Google+ yet, but since it will play a very large part in Google's algorithm for Page Rank and search engine rankings (all the +1's you get add up in your favour and move you higher up the search engine pages and this is likely to become an even stronger factor over the next few months.) Don't underestimate how valuable this could be to your brand, blog or small business in the future. Now is a really good time to get going :-)
I'm very interested in your experiences and input on these very basic, beginner tips. Please get in touch!