I hope you’ve enjoyed this short ecourse on using Google’s new social network, Google+. I know I’ve had a lot of fun sharing what I’ve learned. By now you’ve probably added a few friends to your network, posted a couple of updates, and maybe added a few photos to your profile. But what else can you do? Plenty!
Let’s start with Circles. This is how you organize your contacts. You can have as many circles as you like (though fewer is probably better, at least to start), and you can name them anything you please. While users are notified that you’ve added them to a circle, they’ll never see the name of that circle, so feel free to be descriptive. Once you’ve added a few Circles – and added people to them – you’ll have much more control over who sees your content. Pictures of the baby? Share with the “Grandmas” Circle. Big sale going on? Share with your “Clients” Circle. Feel free to experiment with this a bit to see what works best for you.
Next up, Hangouts and Huddles – two fantastic ways to stay in touch with friends, clients, or team members. Hangouts allows you to video chat with up to 9 others, while Huddle is a text messaging ap for groups. Hangouts works right in your browser with your webcam, but Huddle (for now) only works on Android phones. There’s talk of an iPhone ap in the future, though.
Finally, don’t overlook Sparks. This is where you can find all kinds of interesting content you might otherwise miss. Choose your areas of interest, and Google will present you will a never-ending list of articles, video, blog posts, and news items to match. Unlike search results, which tend to remain the same from day to day, Sparks content is dynamic, showing only the latest results. And if you find something particularly interesting, there’s a convenient button for sharing with a Circle or two.
While it might seem that there is a lot lacking from Google+’s features, it’s important to remember that the network is still young. There are plans for business accounts and integrated gaming, among other things, so I think it’s definitely something we need to keep a close eye on in the next few months. I for one can’t wait to see how it develops.
Here’s to a great new social media experience, courtesy of Google!