Earlier this week, Google caused a stir when it launched Google+, the new social sharing service that’s currently available only to those lucky members who receive an invitation. Unlike other social sharing sites, Facebook being the first that comes to mind, the all-new Google+ begs its users to practice sharing decorum.
First Things First
Whether or not you have received an invitation to Google+ -- it’s the only way to use the service, and due to the high amount of traffic the site has generated, invitations have slowed down – there are some prerequisites to fulfill before one can start sharing. The first is creating and/or updating your Google Profile – this is mandatory – and making sure the setting is set to “Public.” To do so, follow these steps:
- Log in to Google: https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin; if you don’t have an account, create one. This account will be used to connect your Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, and any other Google services you use.
- Once logged in, create your Google Profile here: https://profiles.google.com/; fill your profile with photos, a short biography, and any other relevant content you wish to aggregate and, remember, make public.
- To make the profile public, go to https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount.
- If you have existing Picasa albums, review them and the sharing settings you previously established, as these will be shared with your Google+ circles.
Your Google+ Circles
The difference between Google+ and other social networking sites is who you choose to share your information with – your audience. In Google+ terminology, these are your “Circles,” and your means for categorizing your contacts. To create your set of Circles:
- Review the set of group Google+ has already established: "Friends," "Family," "Acquaintances," and "Following."
- Modify these to match the groups of people you are interested in sharing information with, be it “Industry Colleagues” or “Employees.” Note: When you assign someone to a circle, they will be notified, although they will not be aware of the name of the circle they were assigned to.
Mind Your Settings
Each circle has its own settings; therefore, it’s important that you carefully read the fine print pertaining to each. This is especially important if you have several different circles and wish to share things differently according to each.
Adding to Your Circles
Your circles aren’t circles without some contacts in them, so here is how to start adding them.
- Browse Google’s suggestions for whom to add to your circles; these are derived from your most frequent GMail and address book contacts.
- Because Google+ isn’t integrated with other social networking sites, you will have to search for your friends’ contact information.
- Rest-assured Google is bound to deliver on integration, but for the time being, updated your Google contacts is the best way to go. To update: Log in to Google, go to https://mail.google.com, and click “Contacts.”
Initiate a Huddle
Google+ refers to private conversations within a group as the “Huddle.” To use this feature:
- Test it out first. Choose a circle, preferably one that you are comfortable testing the waters with… I suggest your friends. As you catch on to which circle receives your conversations – and while Google works out its own glitches – you’ll want to keep the conversation light-hearted.
Hanging out in Google+
Google+’s most interesting feature is the Hangout, where webcam conferencing simulates the activity of socializing face to face. To Hangout:
- Click the green “Hangout” button on the right panel. A preview dialog box will appear allowing you to preview what your live image looks like.
- Next, add individuals or entire Circles to your dialog box – you can also indicate to your contacts that they are invited to join if they so wish.
- As with the Huddle, it’s best to start small and with those you are most comfortable with.
- Be warned: it is possible to mute someone, although that person – and everyone else in the Hangout, for that matter – will know who muted who. So be polite.
Mix it Up
There is plenty to do on Google+ in addition to Huddling and Hanging Out.
- Google+ features a sports utilities for photo sharing
- Google+ is equipped with an automated content discovery tool
Stay up-to-date on new Google+ developments, experiment and gain an edge by checking in periodically with the following sites: www.TechCrunch.com, www.Mashable.com, Google’s YouTube page, and other industry blogs.