Posted: Mar 25, 2013 12:00 PM
If you haven’t yet added Google+ to your list of social media addictions, we've outlined what you need to know about this social media game-changer and why you might find yourself wanting to hangout in there more often!

Google+: Cheat sheet

This quick tutorial will guide you on Google+ if you’re not sure where to start!

  • The Google bar: This appears at the top of Google products — when you’re searching on Google or reading your Gmail, for example. To get to Google+, all you have to do is click +[your first name] that appears on the far left side of the bar.
  • Your Home page in Google+: Once you’re in Google+, your Home page is the feed that centralizes all the content shared by people in your circles. When you share a post with individual people or circles, your content will appear on their Home page if you're in their circles.
  • Google+ circles: Circles are an essential part of Google+. They let you group people together based on how you think of them in real life. With circles, people see all of the content you want them to and none of the content you don't. Using circles you can:
      • Share jokes with your Friends circle
      • Be all-business in your Work circle
      • Share parenting tips and ask advice in your Moms circle
  • Customizable profile: Using circles, you can also control who gets to see specific information you share on your profile. For example, your contact details and relationship information could be visible to your Friends circle, while your employment history and education are visible to your Work circle.

Ready to create a test post?

From the Home page, create and share a post with your friends on Google+ by typing into your Share what’s new box, next to your profile photo. Enter your post. Click the camera icon to add a photo, the play button icon to add a video or the link icon to add a URL. Click + to control the audience: Public, a specific circle or an individual. If you choose to share a post with the public as opposed to a specific circle or friend, you should know that it might show up in Internet search results.

What's so great about Google+?

There are a lot of cool features that make Google+ fun, even for the novice social media user. Here are just a few features that stand out:

  • Text formatting: Use these simple shortcuts to make your text stand out: *bold*, _italics_ and -strikethough-
  • Photo editing: You can crop, rotate, color and adjust photo sharpness and exposure. Just open a photo, click actions then click edit photo.
  • Better networking: Google+ doesn't discriminate. You can easily add links to all of your social media sites right on your profile. Just click edit profile, then click on other profiles and add links!

Google+ is about Community

A Community is Google+'s version of a forum or group, where users can ask questions, share information and discuss specific topics they're interested in. This feature was just launched in December 2012 and it's already a big hit. It's easy to find Communities across so many topics — from social media to food photography to slow parenting and even Google+ tips. From your home page, you'll see a navigation bar on the left hand side where you'll find a Communities icon. Just click on that and explore using the search function on the landing page. There are a few tips you should know before you jump into Communities:

  • Some Communities are public and once you click to join you'll be let in right away. Other Communities are private, so you'll be prompted to request access and be approved first.
  • If you don't want to be bombarded with notices every time someone engages in your Community, you can choose to turn alerts off. Just click on the bell-shaped icon to the right of the word actions on the left-hand side of the page.

What is a Hangout?

A Google+ Hangout is a video chat option that you can use with up to nine of your friends, family members, even colleagues, if you'd like. With Hangouts you can:

  • Video chat
  • Share screens
  • Watch YouTube videos and access other apps together

You can host these Hangouts privately, or choose to broadcast your Hangout live On Air, for all the world to see. Some very notable names have done On Air Google+ chats, including President Obama.

Google+ security features

While you should always be mindful of what you put out on the internet, Google+ does have some great security features you should know about before you dive in:

  • You can choose how you want to share each post. If it's an update on one of your kids, you can choose to share it only with your Family circle.
  • Before you post something, you can disable comments and lock the post, so no one else can comment on it or share it. Plus, after you've posted it, you can go back and edit it. Just click on the drop down arrow on the top right of the post to see these options.

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