Google+ 15-Minute Jumpstart Guide

By Andy Crestodina

Some people don’t believe in climate change. Other people don’t believe that Google+ is changing how the internet works. This article is for people in the second group.

Why Google+?

Put simply, Google wants to customize your search results based on what your friends like. People tend to like what their friends like, so this makes sense. Google is in the relevance business, and social relationships are relevant.

You can already see how this is affecting search results. Rankings are changing, profile pictures are showing up, +1 buttons are everywhere. Search + Social = Google+. Here’s how it works in general:

  1. Jane puts Bob in a circle.
  2. Bob clicks +1 on an article.
  3. When Jane searches, that article ranks higher.

If you’re a marketer, this is really all you need to know. Big, big news. They call it “Search, plus Your World” and it’s a be-there-or-be-left-out moment.

Great, let’s do it. What’s next? Here are some very simple steps that will take you 15 minutes.

Add your profile picture (2 minutes)

Use the same picture you use on Facebook and Twitter, especially if you have a common name. This will make you easier for others to find. Here are 9 tips on perfect profile pictures in case you need advice.

Add your bio and location (3 minutes)

Bios are good, even if they’re very short. Showing your location helps people know if there’s a chance they may meet you in real life (that’s #IRL). If you like the networking aspect of social media, let people know where you call home. Bios and location are also good for being found.

Post or Share Something (2 minutes)

Just like having a new guest over to your home, your profile is about to get attention, so you’ll want to spiff up the place. Post something fun and/or smart. Or just add a quick note that says hello. When posting this (or anything), you generally want to share with the Public, Your Circles and Extended Circles. That’s everyone.

This screenshot is from a fun post by Jamie Wallace.

Add some circles (5 minutes)

One of the fastest ways to add people (and to get people to add you back) is to find and add circles that others have shared. Here is a spreadsheet of 1000+ circles managed by Chris Porter, ranging from banjo players to astronauts. Just pick a few out and add them.

You can also search for a hashtag like #circleshare to find circles to add. Or you can try a few of these:

  • Content Marketers
  • Chicago

Adding circles is what a mass-follow would be if Twitter had one. It will get you noticed and grow your network quickly.

+1 Your Stuff (3 minutes)

Search for yourself within Google. Click the +1 next to your site listing. Search for your favorite things. Click +1 next to those too. You’re making a public endorsement for things you love and helping them get found by others.

Done! Pretty good value for 15 minutes of effort. So…what’s next?

What do I do with all these new people?

Once you’ve added a few circles, you can begin the (admittedly painstaking) process of organizing people into different circles if you’d like, or remove people if you don’t like how they changed the flavor of your stream.

Eventually, your combined Google+ stream may not be the main way you use the site. Like Twitter, if you follow a lot of people, your stream might seem a bit too noisy and random. But unlike Twitter, it’s easier to filter your stream. Just view it one circle at a time.

  • In my circles (1184)
  • Have me in circles (8)

Feel lonely? Even if you don’t, you look like you are. If you don’t like the unbalanced look of having circled many more than have circled you, don’t worry. Go to your profile, click “edit profile,” then click on those out-of-balance numbers under your profile picture. You’ll see options to “show people in” certain circles. Then, un-check your giant new circles. Balance restored.

Make and share your own circles

Why not? If it’s a circle of 100 or fewer people, you can choose to notify everyone who was in the circle that you have shared it. Now they’ll see the post as a notification next time they visit. Lastly, make sure you add yourself to the circle by checking the box labeled “include yourself in shared circle”.

But I miss my Facebook friends

If you really miss your old friends, you can use the best part of Facebook (your wall) from within Google+. It’s called “Google + Facebook” and it makes your Facebook wall visible within your stream.

Where is everybody?

Don’t expect to find everyone here in Google+. They’re not all going to be here. If you take the very time-consuming step of searching for all your Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers, you might find 1 in 10 if you’re lucky.

Yes, it’s new. It’s different. But Google+ is an opportunity to make new friends. And if you’re a marketer, what’s wrong with that?

Update (January 2016): There’s been a lot of changes regarding Google+. For more info, read this article by Martin Shervington.

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