2016-04-30 Google Plus Usage

Google+ is a website like Facebook or Twitter. On Facebook, I am connected to friends and family. On Twitter I have a personalized news feed. On Google+ I found people that share my interests. This page is supposed to help you get started if you want to give Google+ a try.

Some words you’ll hear again and again:

  1. To “follow” or to “circle” somebody means that you’ll be shown some of their posts when you visit Google+.
  2. When you visit Google+, the first thing you’ll see is your “Home” stream. Google will not always show all the posts of the people you are following.

Advanced Usage: You can show a different aspect of yourself to different people by creating “circles”, putting people in those circles (if you just “follow” somebody they simply end up in your “Following” circle), and then sharing a new post with just a particular circle. Don’t worry about this for the moment and simply assume that anything you are posting is public and you’ll be fine.

You can also control whether posts by people in a particular circle are more or less likely to be shown in your Home stream. This is how you can have circles of people whose post you value very much and circles of people you’d rather see less of. For the moment, don’t touch these settings until you see an actual use for them.

Preparing Your Profile

You need to do at least two things:

  1. Use an image for your face, preferably something that looks at least vaguely like a face.
  2. Write two or three posts that reflect your interests. Sure, you don’t have an audience, yet. But this is what people interested in you will see. This is what they’ll use to decide whether to follow zou or not.

Advanced Usage: You can write an introduction and “pin” it to your profile. It’ll be always at the top and greet new visitors. I recommend doing this.

Collections

If you know that you will be writing about more than one topic and you assume that readers of one might not be interested in the other, create appropriate collections. I created the collections RPG, History, Code, Social Media, and Life, for example. I suggest you keep the number of collections low. Four or five are more than enough to get started.

If you do that, write a post for each collection so visitors know what to expect.

People have multiple options, now:

  1. Follow you and all your collections. This is the default when following other people.
  2. Follow you but unfollow one or more of your collections. This is how people get to decide whether they want to know about your politics, your kids, or your miniature painting.
  3. Not follow you but follow one or more of your collections. This is how people get to decide whether they want to get added to new collections you might create in the future. If they just follow your collection on board games, chances are, they care only about board games.

Advanced Usage: You can have collections that are public (the default) and collections for particular circles. You can configure collections such that people that follow you don’t automatically follow this collection. Don’t worry about this unless you have a topic you assume almost nobody will be interested in but you still want to allow others to know about this interest of yours.

Following People

You need to find people to start following. Your best bet is to start following people you know from the blogs you read. If you read this blog, for example, you know that the Contact page has the link to my Google+ profile.

Follow these people, read their posts and the comments people left on their posts, then check out the profiles of the people that left comments you like, and just keep going, adding as you find people that share your interests.

Another great way to find a lot of people to follow is to search for “communities” that match your interest. There, use the same principle. If you see a profile that peeks your interest, look at their profile and figure out whether you’d like to start following them.

Advanced Usage: You can create your own communities, and you can create private communities which you might eventually want to do if you feel like organizing small chat groups with a small number of friends. This is a bit like those group chats many messenger apps offer.

Circle Maintenance

I follow and unfollow people all the time and for the slightest reasons, e.g. posting too much about a particular topic I don’t care about without putting them in a collection I can unfollow. On the other hand, if somebody comments or pluses stuff I said, I’ll often look at their profiles and follow (again, perhaps) if the last few posts look interesting.

I only block when it’s stuff that cannot be solved by unfollowing. Leaving idiot comments on the posts of people I don’t want to unfollow, inviting me to events I will never attend, repeatedly sharing stuff that notifies me, and other such annoyances.

I never confront anybody about this because the world is big and full of people. There are always other people.

What Does This Mean For You?

Simple:

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