Google Plus “How To” Week

7-18-2011 4-37-19 PMA few of my friends have recently asked “So what IS Google+?”  Then a friend of mine who is already ON Google+ posted yesterday “OMG, GOOGLE+!!!! I DO NOT GET YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1”  So I decided some serious tutorials were in order, in addition to the review I have already posted.  Plus, (no pun intended), I’ve been using the service some more, and have really liked what it’s got to offer.

This week will be all about how to do stuff in Google+, from getting your feet wet to being fully engaged in the community.  I’m writing all of these posts in advance, since I probably won’t have much time while I’m hanging out with my BFF, CEO of Dell, Michael Dell (OK, so he’s not my BFF, but a geeky girl can dream, right?)

I feel like Facebook and Twitter got together and had a child, they named it Google+.  What Google+ is, is the best features of both Twitter and Facebook combined for my sharing and consuming joy.  On Twitter, I share public status updates.  I follow people I don’t know, people I don’t know Follow me.  I’m OK with this, because I wouldn’t share anything private on Twitter.  On Facebook, I only accept people as friends that I have met in real life.  I share more private information because I know every single one of my friends.  With Google+ I can have circles for sharing content that is private, and I can make a status update public, so that the people I don’t know who follow me can see those as well.  It’s really the best of both worlds.  At this time I don’t see it overtaking Facebook, but I think Twitter needs to watch it’s back.

First things first, you need to be “invited” to use Google+ right now.  If you are still looking for an invite, make sure to hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or even right here in the comments.  All I need is your email address, and you can come to the party!

As soon as that invite hits your inbox, and you click on it, you will be taken to Google+’s login screen.  Go ahead and enter your basic information, and make sure to click “Add Photo” so I can take a look at that pretty face.  The mystery face is nice and all, but I’d rather talk to a person than a shadow.

The next thing I want you to do is to fill out your profile.  You may want to skip ahead and start adding people to your circles (we’ll get to that later), but I want you to fill out as much profile data as you can.  When people add me to a circle, the first thing I do is check out their profile to see if I’d like to follow them back.  Don’t worry if none of this is making sense.  It will.

7-18-2011 4-42-43 PMIf you already skipped ahead, the first thing you should do is click on the profile icon and select “Edit Profile”.  The “about” field can be pretty lengthy, so go nuts… tell your life story, tell me your hopes and dreams, have fun!

Next we’re going to dive right in to circles.  Since that is the next area you should set up.  You can go as compartmentalized as you want, or leave it broad.  Circles are groups of people that you will share information with.  Each of your contacts probably fits into a circle in your own life.  So there can be a circle for your work friends, a circle for high school friends, circles for your blogging friends.  If you generally want to share information with all of your friends, then you can just lump everyone into a “friends” circle.  For me, though, I’m probably not going to share something I learned about blogging with my work friends, and I won’t share something about work with my high school friends.  It’s just easier to make the circles just like the compartments of your life.  Don’t worry, you can add people to more than one circle too.  So I have a friend at work, that is also a good friend of mine, and also a “church friend” of mine.  She’s in several of my circles.

Next, I have circles just for people I follow.  Such as celebrities, tech news folks like Mashable, and corporate executives that I like to follow.  Likely these people will not follow me back, and I’m ok with that.  I just want to read their content, they don’t really need to know that my kid lost her tooth.

Now I also have a circle called inbox.  This circle is limited to the people I absolutely want to read if they post a status update.  It’s mostly comprised of actual real life friends of mine, and a couple of my favorite “following” people.  My other circle is the “firehose” which is the rest of my following people, and then maybe some friends of mine, who I don’t care too much when they post an update.  When I’m short on time I’ll go straight to the inbox.  When I have some more time I’ll check out what’s going on in the firehose.

This is a great way to set up your circles so you are always reading the content you want to read in the time frame you have to work with.  Then when you share you can select to share with all of your friends, or your more compartmentalized group of friends.

The rest of this week we’ll dig into some of the other features like hangouts, huddles and sparks… oh my!

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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