Google+ is an evolution of some of the best features and qualities of the most popular and useful social networks to-date. For instance, Google realized that filtering our friends, fans and followers is a tool that’s very much needed but not successfully provided by other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. That’s what Google+’s “Circles” are: a way to categorize the people in your Google+ social network so you can post content to some of them, rather than all of them. It’s just like life: you wouldn’t share all your opinions and all the valuable content you create or find with EVERYONE you know and everyone who follows you, right? You’d save personal stuff for close friends and broadcast less personal stuff to followers whom you’ve never met in “real life.” Now Google+ has made filtering content a LOT easier than Facebook and Twitter has. And THAT’S the top reason I love Google+ because I feel a lot more comfortable and more in control than in other social networks.
If you’re new to Google+ and want to set up your profile smartly so you can continue exploring and interacting with your circles of friends, read and apply my tips below. Note: As of this writing, if you’re in Google+ then you’re part of the “Field Trial.” See what Google says about the Field Trial, below:
If you’re not yet a member of Google+, I have 150 invitations left. Go to my contact form on my website and include your email address so I can email you an invitation.
Here’s what I recommend you do if you’re new to Google+:
- Review what it’s all about here: The Google+ Project. Or click on the word “Welcome” below your photo in your profile. Be sure to watch the videos to quickly soak in what Google+ is intended to be.
- Fill out your “About” section: Click on your photo; then click on “About.”
See the blue “Edit Profile” button in the upper right area (pictured below)? Click that to edit sections of your About page. (FYI: Before Google+ existed, you could have had a Google Profile – if so, you’re already ahead of most people because your old Google Profile has officially become your “About” section of your Google+ profile.)
The reason you want to thoroughly fill out your “About” section is so people (and Google) will know who you are; what you’re interested in; what you do and many other things. Consider it a big, important part of your digital footprint and of your Online Reputation.
Edit these sections (and more) of your Google+ profileIn the “Introduction” section of your “About” page, you should add text links to keyword phrases that describe you and your work. If you’ve studied SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you probably know that search engines, especially Google, follow text links that lead to more contant regarding that phrase. The Google Bot really is like a spider weaving a web. The more valuable links you provide, the tighter and stronger the Web becomes. Don’t link to junky, spammy content. You’d be shooting yourself in the foot. Google wants to return valuable search results to searchers, not junk.
The “Links” section (pictured above in the right sidebar) should list the most important content about YOU. Google suggests you link to Google products you use, such as Blogger, but they’re just doing what any company would do: promoting itself. It’s perfectly fine to link to other websites about you, your social networks, your Quora profile, etc. – any good content authored by you or about you. For more information about why the “Links” section should be filled out, be sure to read some important details on Google’s Accounts Help. Authorship tagging is extremely critical to helping Google organize and label data properly (that’s a whole other blog post I need to write.)
Have a little fun with the “Bragging rights” section. It’s an opportunity for you to show your sense of humor, if you like. Or if you’ve accomplished something really outstanding that most people haven’t, here’s your chance to brag – you deserve it. Caution: try not to come off sounding conceited.
3. The Hovercard: Be sure to edit the “Employment” section of your profile in a strategic/descriptive way (similar strategy to having a good bio on Twitter) because when people hover over your photo, they can read what you do and it helps them decide whether or not to connect with you and/or which type of Circle to add you into.
I credit Lynette Young, who credits Eskimon.WordPress.com, with figuring out how to edit that Hover Card.
4. Circles: very recently, as of this writing, Google+ gave its members another choice: whether or not to show or hide our circles from public view. You can use this feature to stop people from dipping into your circles and spamming people. I am experimenting right now with NOT showing my circles. I have a feeling this will slow down new followers, which could be good because I like quality over numbers. There are other tips I could share about Circles but it’s so simple, I am confident you’ll know what to do. I do want to caution you on creating lots of circles….don’t do that because you’ll have too many categories to keep track of. Try to limit the number to between five to ten, maximum. You can name your Circles whatever you like. Google says no one will know which Circle you’ve assigned them to but if I were you, I’d name my Circles with positive or neutral names because you never know – Google might change its mind in the future.
5. A new section of Google+ is the Games section. I don’t think it’s important but I could be wrong. I wonder if Google will end up linking game-players in search results? I wouldn’t be surprised. When I go to my games section, Google+ tells me: “You haven’t played any games yet” – yeah, that’s right, Google: I haven’t played any games because, first of all, I barely have time to do what I’m already doing and secondly, if I played any of your games, I’d never ever leave Google+. But I guess that’s the whole idea, eh?
Those are a few of what I think are the most important things for you to know if you’ve just landed in Google+ and are getting acclimated to the territory. Welcome to another evolution of the world of social networks. This is just the beginning for Google.