Experts Blog

Google Plus: Top 10 Tips On Getting The Most Out Of It

By Shelly Kramer on Aug 18, 2011 - 02:00 PM

Unless you live under a rock (hey, I don't judge), you've probably heard about Google+. And if you're a tech freak like me, you've been creating circles and huddling and sparking for the last few weeks. Google announced at the beginning of August that Google+ already reached 25 million users, creating a pace that may make Google+ the fastest-growing website in history.

So what's with all the hype about Google+? Is it really a Facebook killer? Twitter's worst enemy? The new blogging platform? A supremely well-designed time suck?

After experimenting with Google+ (let's circle, shall we?), I'll admit it, I'm on the G+ bandwagon. I'll even go out on a limb and predict that Google+, if it isn't already, will be a social media game-changer, whether you're using it for personal or business applications (more on that in a bit.) And because Google+ joins Google's powerful arsenal of tools, it makes G+ an even bigger deal. This integration is part of what inspired my techie friend, Hillel Fuld's recent post on why Google+ “will absolutely explode in popularity.” If you're not already following him on Twitter and reading his blog, I suggest you fix that, post haste—he's terrific and totally dialed into the tech space. 

Back to Google+. The well-designed interface combines the best of Facebook and Twitter with Google's clean layout, creating something that's not only eye-catching—but functional, too. That said, what better way to celebrate the power of Google+ than with my own top 10 list?

Google+: Top 10 tips

10. Let's get visual. That functionality that I just mentioned? Google+ has it in spades. Take photos, for example. Google+ includes Picasa, which results in a great visual display, unlimited photo-sharing and mobile functionality that may eventually rival photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. Picasa allows you to add effects to your photos simply by clicking on an image and then using the “Actions” menu. And, if you’re an Instagram user, we recently discovered a nifty way to integrate your Instagram stream into Google+.

Want to migrate your photos from Facebook? Install the “Move your photos” Chrome extension (another reason to switch to Chrome!), log into your Facebook account, select the photos you want to migrate and upload. As for videos, you'll have to take a more archaic approach and upload them one-by-one after downloading them from your Facebook page (if you don't already have copies elsewhere.)

9. Stop, collaborate and listen. Try the site's live video chat feature (known in Google+ speak as a hangout) for instant collaboration regardless of your location. We work with designers, developers, SEO nerds and other folks, most of whom work virtually. The Google+ Hangout feature allows us to collaborate quickly and easily, since we’re all online pretty much 24/7. Plus, it allows us yet another opportunity to ridicule one another—what’s not to like about that?

8. Circle up. The lifeblood of Google+ is its circles. You're free to create as many as you want and name them what you will. Then simply drag and drop your contacts into the appropriate circles. Google developers have said that the site's circles emulate how we socialize in real life—some of your circles overlap, and some don't. The ability to control which circles see your posts is a huge advantage of Google+ -- not only for privacy reasons, but also to ensure your content reaches the ideal audience.

7. Go mobile. If you have an Android device or an iPhone, download the Google+ app. It's a great way to keep up with activity and you can use a location-based opt-in that creates a circle of nearby users.

6. Share often. If you’re like me, once you get going on Google+, you’ll probably spend a lot of time sharing content within Google+, so make sure others know you're out there. Try this handy trick for creating a custom Google+ profile URL, which makes sharing and distribution that much easier. Just head to and get yours ASAP!

5. Pimp your profile. After you've entered your preliminary info and photo, you'll have the option to populate your profile with a lot more information. And trust me—you'll want to use it. Share what you do, what you're interested in and why people should connect with you. Make sure your profile is keyword-rich—apply similar techniques as you would when completing your LinkedIn profile. Plus, you can add media like video, images and QR codes—consider these multimedia components that give life to your profile and story.

Once you've finished your profile, you'll want to boost your audience. Want an easy trick? You can migrate your Facebook profile across enemy lines. Just follow these tips from Lifehacker. Create a Yahoo account if you don't already have one. Then sign in, go to the “Contacts” tab and import your contacts from Facebook. Once you've done that, hop back over to Google+, click “Find and invite” and then choose Yahoo.

4. Store content. Circles aren't just for people. Google+ doesn't yet have a bookmarking function, so you could create empty circles for different types of content and then share that information or simply maintain it as a note-making tool—kind of like Diigo or Evernote, but already integrated into Google+. I use circles all the time in this fashion and it’s my own little information management tool. I’ve created a circle that’s just for posts I want to be sure and read later and another that only contains information that I know I want to use later when I’m researching for a presentation I’m preparing or a blog post I’m writing on a particular topic. Try it, if you’re like me, you’ll find it super handy.

3. Don't ignore Sparks. Stay up-to-date with key industries and topics by populating your Sparks. Google will compile content to correspond with the subject areas you tell it you’re interested in. For us, this means tracking topics and industries that are relevant for our clients and/or researching new business that we’re pitching. Sparks can also provide a wealth of information that you can use as status updates, inspiration for blog posts, research and/or even wowing the crowd at your next cocktail party. Depending, of course, upon the crowd.

2. Add a search feature. If you're a Chrome user, you can install a handy plug-in that allows you to search all public content in Google+. According to Mashable, the current search tool is geared toward finding users, as opposed to content, but this is still a great addition to your browser.

1. Businesses beware. ABC News Radio, Boing Boing and William Shatner have all learned the hard way—Google+ is, for now, just for personal use. The brilliant duo of Danny Brown and Geoff Livingston explore the recent business blackout, attributing it to the site's community managers preference for “optimizing community interaction between people first.” Instead, take time to build, organize and manage your personal profile. That way, when businesses and non-profits are given the green light, you'll be in a prime position to easily create an established Google+ presence. And that time is drawing near—business preview invitations began rolling out on August 5, a testament to Google’s promise that they’d accelerate the timeline for Google+ business use.

Now that we've covered the basics and told you some of what we think the best features of Google+ are (and hopefully gotten you interested in diving in your own self), here are some organizational tools that you might also come in handy.

*Disable sharing. Google+ circles are fantastic when it comes to limiting your sharing, but if a user in that limited group clicks share, your post becomes visible to the Google+ population. Heed this tip from Mashable to protect your updates. Click the drop-down menu on the right side of your post and select “disable reshare.”

*Shortcuts FTW. Put your Chrome browser to work with extensions that make your Google+ experience much faster and more convenient. Two of my favorites are Surplus, which offers a variety of functions including desktop notifications, notification sounds, the ability to post or respond from within the popup and the ability to switch between multiple Google accounts. If keyboard shortcuts are your thing, check out G+ Extended, which adds a list of new keyboard shortcuts for Google+ like “s” for sharing a post or “+” for +1’ing a post. Time is money, people—install these extensions and I promise you’ll thank me later!

*Group moves. Want to move more than one person at a time to a circle? Easy peasy! Hold down the control or shift key while selecting users and then drag that group to your desired circle.

What are your initial thoughts about Google+? Favorite features? Things to improve? I'd love to hear what your experience has been and/or any questions you may have. And, there’s another G+ post in the works as you read this one, so if you’ve got any great tips, experiences, horror stories, etc., get ‘em to me! Google+ is still in beta mode and sharing our collective user experience, thoughts, suggestions, etc., will only serve to make the whole experience better. So, let me have it …… Email me at!