For a time after its launch, Google Plus had the reputation of being a wasteland. When compared to the popularity of Facebook, Google's social network initially seemed to be a failure. However, things have changed over the last year or so and the social network is now providing some serious competition for Facebook and Twitter. Some estimates have the number of users approaching 400 million, which makes it a good idea to use Google Plus for business. It offers a range of powerful features and is integrated with other Google services. If you are interested in using Google Plus for business, here is a short guide to the basics of how it operates.
Your Profile on Google Plus
In order to use Google Plus, you will need to create a Google account if you do not already have one. Google will require a few basic pieces of information about you such as your name, phone number and birthday. You can upload a picture as well. Once you have opened your Google account, you can add people to your Circles (more on those later) and provide more information about yourself like where you work and where you live. This information is for your profile. If you want, you can set the visibility of this information so that it is not visible to everyone. You can also upload a cover photo.
The Google Plus Home Page
This is also known as the stream; it is where you will see updates from the people you follow. You have the option of viewing it in one column or in several.
This is one of the most important features of the platform. Circles are a way of categorizing the people you follow. This means that you can organize the people with whom you want to interact; you can place any contact in one circle or in multiple circles. When you share content on Google Plus, you can specify which circle gets to see it or you can make it public so that anyone can see it. When viewing content, you can click on a circle in order to see only content from the accounts in that circle. Google provides you with the ability to hide who you have in your circles as well as who has included you in their circles. Your contacts will get a notification that you have added them but they will not know to which circle.
Posting on Google Plus
This social network makes it very easy to post to different groups, regardless of the group's size. After selecting who you want to share your content with, you can insert your post and tag it. Tagging in Google Plus is similar to tagging in Twitter; it helps people to find your post.
Google Plus Communities
There is a wide variety of communities where you can discuss topics of interest to that community with likeminded users. If you want to join a conversation, just send a request to join. You send content to communities in much the same way that you send it to your circles. If you do this, it will be visible on your profile page to other users who visit it. You can join private communities only by request; any content you share to a private community will not be visible to users outside of that community.
Google Plus Hangouts
This popular feature allows you to video-chat with other Google Plus members. You have the option to host private chats or public chats via the Hangouts On Air. The video chats in Hangouts on Air can be archived to YouTube and viewed by others as YouTube videos. When using Google Plus for business, this feature may be used to reveal new products or to connect with customers.
Google Plus Notifications
You can see your notifications in the top right hand of the screen beside your profile picture. The notification box allows you to reply to messages quickly without having to scroll through your stream. The notifications are also available on other Google services like Gmail and YouTube.
If you want to use Google Plus via a mobile device, you can use the Google Plus app, which provides much of the functionality that you would get on your PC. Hangouts has its own app that allows you to interact with people in your Circles.