Getting Started On Google Plus (Part 4)

Getting Started On Google Plus - A Geekalicious series
This is the final part in my four-part series, Getting Started With Google Plus.  This four-part series is designed to help you learn to love Google Plus and enjoy your time on the platform.

We have already covered setting up your profile (Part One), sharing content with relevant circles (Part Two) and using images and text formatting to help your updates stand out (Part Three) so we will move on to some final tips, tricks and recommendations. 

Part 4. Tips and Tricks


Notifications

Google Plus circle notifications
Now you are sharing great content with images and formatted text, have people in circles and are a member of a couple of communities you may have noticed that you are receiving lots and lots of notifications that are driving you mad or are pinging through to your email or phone. Within each circle and community you can control the amount of notifications you receive by adjusting the settings for each one individually.  Whilst viewing the timeline of each circle you can toggle the 'bell' on and off for notifications pushed to your email/phone and you can decide how many times you would like to see updates from that circle in your main timeline by hitting the cog and and personalising the selection shown.  The same adjustments can be made from the main page of a community.

Communities

Google Plus community threads
Please remember that when you first view a community you are looking at the main timeline of that community, i.e. everything that has been shared by the members. Take a look to the main information box to the left of the community and see if the owner has started any "threads" (discussion topics).  Conversation and/or links may be more relevant in these areas.  

Picture This

As mentioned in Part Three, Google+ thrives on images and their incorporation with Picasa means that some editing tools are available in Google+ and you can share to G+ direct from the desktop version of Picasa editing suite. Photo and Video options are available in your G+ settings and you are provided with 15GB of free storage. 

It is worth noting that if you blog on Blogger, images uploaded to your blog are automatically included in a G+ album and this count towards your free photo storage space. You can share your albums or individual images to your G+ stream and you can also use pictures from your G+ albums to help enhance your udpates - this includes any auto-awesome pictures that you may have created as these are stored in your Google Albums too.

Spending a little extra time creating 'call to action' type images is worth thinking about. You can easily overlay text on an photgraph to create a really striking lead image using Picasa or non-Google (free) photo editing websites such as PicMonkey or Photobucket.

.Gif images (moving pictures) work brilliantly on Google+ and generate a fun, eye-catching addition to your update. I'd be wary of using them consistently because they can become a little annoying.  A great place to find .gif images is by filtering the Google Image search down from the Image tab with Search Tools > Type > Animated.  Right click on the image and save it to your computer then upload as normal.  Please ensure you check usage rights before using any image you find and always credit the source.  You can also create your own .gif images by using this nifty little (free) online tool

Finally, for images, Auto Backup is worth exploring if you take lots of pictures on your phone. You can automatically back up all your mobile pictures as you take them by using a setting built into the G+ mobile app on your smart phone.  You receive unlimited free storage at the standard size of picture (2048px) - more information here.

Apps

There are a few apps that I use to help me out with my Google Plus experience.  
  • Friends+Me is a social sharing tool which allows you to share public posts from Google+ to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.  There are many source and destination settings and this app uses hashtags to control these settings.
  • Bit.ly is my weapon of choice when it comes to shortening links because you can edit the short link name and follow the life of the link with embedded statistics.
  • +1 Chrome Extension can be used to recommend and share articles directly from the webpage. This will display a 'rich snippet' social share on Google+
  • Buffer is another social sharing and scheduling tool and you can push articles to a Google+ page (not a profile sadly) either by setting up your own personal schedule or by sharing immediately.
  • Circle Count is an metric that measures a person's influence on G+. By counting the number of circles you are in and including the +1's, comments and shares the higher the influence is expected to be.  It's worth noting that currently you can only circle 5000 people but you can be in many more circles.
(Note: both Buffer, Circle Count and Bit.ly also have Chrome Extensions available)

Do's And Don't's

DO check your updates for good grammar and spelling.  People will be reluctant to recommend or share updates that don't read well unless the content is absolutely awesome.
DON'T share the same link across all social media networks and expect it to ripple on its own. You need to engage with your connections as yourself on each social media platform. Time management is key here and updates should be tailored to the platform too.
DO use the search bar at the top of your Google+ timeline to find content, people, places, photographs and more.

Links and Additional Reading

It is important to have a great Google+ profile photo (head and shoulders is recommended) and cover image. Find out the optimum size and measurements for Google+ profiles and how they convert to the mobile/app version (written by Andew Macarthy of +500 Social Media Marketing Tips). 

If you are still stuck for inspiration or new people to circle then take a look at the Explore section of Google Plus - it is also called "What's Hot" in your G+ menu.

You can read a full article about the anatomy of the perfect G+ post (written by +Dustin W. Stout).

If you own a website or a blog then you should connect your content with your Google Plus profile.  You can find out how to claim your Google Authorship here.

Google is now promoting a 'one account for all' meaning that you only need one log-in name and password to access all Google's products.  Find out how Google integration helps with your Google authority, especially when using YouTube.

This series in full

Part 4 - Tips And Tricks



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