Plus-size Social Networking: Google+ 101
By Heather Camlot
If you’ve been ignoring all those emails from friends and family inviting you to join Google+ for the past six months because you have no idea what Google+ is, here’s your 101.
What is Google+?
Google+ is a social network platform – call it Google’s answer to Facebook. But it differs from Facebook in that not everyone is your “friend.” Sure, you can add everyone and anyone, but — and this is a big but – when you share information, you don’t have to share it with everyone and anyone. On Google+ you create customized “circles.” These social circles are groups as designated by you, be they close friends, work associates, family, etc. Some people can fall into many circles or they can be restricted to just one. Those comments about a horrid day at the office? Your boss never has to know.
What about multimedia?
Okay, so you’ve written comments in your “stream” and designated who can read it from among your circles. Now you want to add photos. Upon signing up for Google+, you are asked whether your want your Google+ account to be linked to your Picasa account. To add other photos, click on the tab at the top of the page and select the photos you want to add from your computer or from your smartphone. If your smartphone is Android –based, there’s a handy Google+ app you can use to automatically upload photos and videos to your site (they remain private until you log on and decide who gets to see them). The nice thing about the photo program is the option to edit your pics – you can let Google+ Auto-Fix them for you, too – and add fun effects.
A cool feature of Google+ is called hangouts. It’s a video chat program with a twist. Imagine you’re at home, not much to do, and would love to just hang out with friends. Click “Start a Hangout” on Google+ and a message is sent out to people in your circles while you wait in the chat room. Soon enough (you hope), friends join in. A maximum of 10 people can be in the chat room at once and the person speaking is the one featured onscreen.
What else can I do?
Since Google is in the search business, you’ll see a search box at the top of the page to find whatever you’re looking for. This works in a couple of ways. If you want to pull up that amazing movie a friend recommended and whose title you’ve forgotten, you can search through Google+ posts narrowed down to your circles. If you want to find out what people are saying about the movie, you can search further afield to include all public posts. Finally, to get niche reviews and details, you can search Google+ “Sparks,” which contains articles, photos, videos, etc. collected by theme.
If you run a business, you can create a “page” to help keep in touch with customers and get your messages across to those who ought to know. Client having a tech issue? Talk it through while hanging out. Special discount for your best buyers? Send a message to them specifically via your circle.
For those who have more time on their hands, there are tons of games you can play, including The Godfather: Five Families, Angry Birds, Global Warfare and CityVille.
What are those +1 buttons?
You may have noticed the white box with the blue +1 and the multicoloured band on your favourite web sites. When you click on that button, you’re letting others know that you like a certain article, photo, search result or ad. Every time you click the +1, the associated link will appear in your +1 tab in Google+ so you have a record of everything you’ve found and like on the web. So if you’re a recipe junkie, all those +1 recipes will be filed together in Google+.
Should I forget about Facebook?
We wouldn’t be so quick to quit Facebook. You may be receiving emails to join Google+, but that doesn’t mean your friends and family who have signed up are actively participating, yet. Social networking is a high-stakes game and we’re doubtful people will actively participate on more than one platform. It may be best to keep your eye on where your social circle is keeping in touch and stick with them if you want to stay in the loop.
Looking for more?
Have you joined Google+? If so, what do you think of it? If not, why not? Let us know by leaving a comment below.Copyright 2012 WorkLivePlayCafe. All rights reserved.