This post is meant to be a getting started guide for those of us who got an invite and are now wondering how to use Google+ .  If you’re looking for an overview of Google+ check out Part 1 of this post: Google+ and World Domination.

Start with your Google Profile
Your profile is going to list your +1’s, posts on Google+ and more soon we don’t know about yet. Fill out your about section. Make sure you add links to your other networks, your blog and your syndicated content (here’s how). If you don’t want people to see your videos, photos, buzz, you can turn those tabs off in the settings. If you don’t have any, turn them off until you do.

To edit your existing profile click the blue edit button and then click the section you want to edit. Make your changes and set who you want to see that section. Make sure you click the “done editing” link at the top of the page to save your changes.

Account Overview
This is where you can add other email addresses to login with, decide what applications have access to your profile, turn Google+ on on non-Google sites etc.

Profile and Privacy
Edit the visibility of your posts and photos, what information in your profile is public, who can tag you in photos. You can add your interests (called “sparks”) so Google can feed you topics you may be interested in. Remember that only you see that list of interests. At least right now.

Scroll down to the bottom of the window to see your privacy settings. The dashboard is where you’ll make your settings, the Privacy Center tells you more about what that all means. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go to the dashboard and set your privacy settings before you dig into Google+’s features. This can be a very enlightening experience since it covers not just Google+ but all of your connections within the Google empire. Google+ has it’s own privacy policy, here’s a link.

This is where you set things like delivery preferences. It’s fun for about 12 seconds to have alerts when people

Google+ privacy settings

comment on your posts go to your phone. After that it will drive you batty. Same thing with email. If you get one for every time anybody comments it will drive you bats.

Here are my settings, but this is really a subjective thing. Less may be better. Pay special attention to the geotagging of uploaded photos and who gets to see tags linked directly to your profile.

It wouldn’t be Google if there wasn’t an option like this. Self explanatory, but it is fun to add other languages just to add interest.

Data Liberation
Wow, this is pretty cool. Download a backup of all your data. This is going to be a list building goldmine. I can hardly wait for Gist to tie into this. It’s also very useful to archive your conversations in case something happens.

Connected Accounts
Hmm, this is interesting since the accounts are connected to your Google profile, but so far there’s no way to say, share a message from Google+ to Twitter. The other interesting thing is Google will use this data to “see relevant content your friends share on the web.” Hmm, Google will know even more about us, seems like socially targeted ads are obvious? Still, from a position of letting people know how to find you it’s useful.

Google+ Hacks and tips
OK, now you can start using it. In my roaming and poking about I found some cool stuff to share about using Google+. Many of them cement your relationship with Google products, like the Google Chrome extension and the Android app. Imagine that.

Google+ preferencesGoogle+ Settings
This drops down from the upper right of your screen. Really you’ve already covered a lot of this in your profile, but it’s very interesting to note the “web history” tab. You think Google’s got their eye on you now? Just wait. I left this feature turned off, with the number of different types of businesses I look up my history would be all over the map. Besides, I don’t want to be fed more of the same, I prefer to decide what I see.

Chrome Extension
Adds desktop notifications and you can post or respond from a popup window. It doesn’t have a button to share the page you’re on yet, but that’s got to be a given doesn’t it? Best yet it allows you to switch between different Google accounts on the fly. Get it here.

The circles feature has been much touted. Basically circles are groups of people you are connected to and you create circles that relate to your relationship with the friends you add to it. Some may be friends, groups around your business, a hobby or people you want to get to know better.

People can be in more than one group and when you send a message you can decide if you are sending it to everyone, all your circles, or specific circles. This way you can really focus your messaging and not bore your group of horse people with recipes you meant to only send to your culinary types. Nice. It reminds me a bit of the idea Diaspora had where you could create different groups for sharing particular information. Google did that much better. In fact there’s a hack to do the same thing with Facebook here.

Once you’ve created a few circles and you start adding more you may want to copy the friends in one circle into another circle. Easy. Just go to the circle’s tab, click on the circle you want to copy and select “View circle in tab”. You’ll see an option for more actions in the upper right corner. Select some or click “select all” all and drag and drop your friends to another circle.

Manage your circlesHide friends in Circles
If you want to hide friends in your circles from public view, go to the Google+ profile and click the edit button. Under your profile photo you’ll see the icons of people you’ve put in circles. Click the little earth icon and viola, you’ll see options on who gets to view who’s in your circles.

User profiles
When you hover over another user’s profile pic you’ll see a mini profile to get an idea about them. If they are already in circles you’ll see what ones you’ve added them to.

Sparks are your areas of interest. Google use these to categorize you and suggest you to other people with similar interests. It also uses it to show you topics you might want to learn more about. Click on the “sparks” link under your profile pic and either search or browse for interesting stuff to spark your interest and share with your circles.

You can upload photos from your phone (easiest if you have Android, iPhone coming soon) or by dragging and dropping from your desktop. Click on a photo to edit who gets to see it, tags, captions, moderate comments and even some limited photo editing capabilities ala Picassa.

Google+ post preferences
Control who you share with

Besides sharing only within circles you can set the sharing preferences on a post. You can disable comments or re shares, but only after the post is added. Click the obscure little arrow in the upper right of the post and you’ll see this menu where you can change the preferences on the post.

Sharing a post is pretty straight-forward. You can add a link, a photo or a video just like Facebook, and you can also add a geo-location tag with Google Places.By default Google Places is turned off, and I recommend using this feature judiciously. Privacy and home security lean towards only using this on your laptop, not at home.

Click the timestamp on a post to get a permalink to share on your other networks, (just like Twitter)

Mute posts
When a post gets commented on again it can re-surface to the top of your notifications long after you’ve lost interest in the thread. (Just like Facebook) Click the arrow in the top right of the post and select mute and you’ll not get the notifications anymore. Click un mute if you want to get them again.

Formatting text
You can use limited text formatting just like you can in Google Buzz. Write rich text formatting like this *bold*, -strike through- or _italic_ . I expect there will be more options at some point.

Shortcut keys
Being able to use shortcuts when posting or commenting is very useful. Here are a few shortcut keys while in Google plus.

  • Q open chat
  • K scroll up within a single post
  • J scroll down within a single post
  • Return or Enter Start a comment
  • Tab and Return End a comment
  • Space Bar Scroll down your stream

You can tag your friends in a post by putting either the + or the @ symbol in front of their name. Unlike Twitter this is their full name, so instead of @Jfouts you’d use @Janet Fouts. Just like Facebook a menu will show up once you start typing with suggestions from your connections. You can tag people you are not connected to which brings me to how to NOT allow people to tag you.This is controlled in your settings panel under “People whose tags of you are automatically approved to link to your Profile:”

Private messages
If you want to direct message someone use a +User name for the person you want to send it to and don’t include any of your circles.

I can see a big use for this in my team coaching sessions. Create a circle of only team members to share information semi-privately. (remember, there’s nothing stopping the sendee from re-posting it to the public)

Notes to yourself
Several users report using a private circle that has only themselves as a member. Then they bookmark items for later reading by sharing it with only that private circle.

Invite a user to Google+

  • Go to your Circles tab and click on “add a new person”
  • Enter their Gmail address and their name to add them to the circle
  • Start a new post and mention them like this (no quotes) “@users name ” and share the post with the circle they are in.
  • Click Share


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