Getting your head round G+

A friend and colleague said, “just need to get my head round that Google+ thingy.”

Sunday, 4th October 2015, 6:11 pm
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

It is similar to comments I have heard from a lot of people. They may have heard about Google+, but don’t really know what it is or what to do with it. That is mainly down to two reasons. 1. When it was first launched, Google hailed it as the ‘social spine’ of Google. Not many people understood what that meant. 2. Google+ has changed a lot since it was launched, which means a lot of preconceptions about what it was or is are simply wrong.

Let’s start with the basics. Google+ is a social network, like Facebook or Twitter. When you sign up for a G+ (as it is affectionately known) account, you can follow people and brands and create your own posts too.

Posts you create on Google+ are either public or private. You control who sees what when you post, by selecting either Public or something else. The something else is usually a person’s name, a circle, a collection or a community.

Circles are how you group people and pages you follow. For instance, you would put your family in your Family circle, your friends in your Friends circle and neuroscientists in… yep, a Neuroscientists circle. People and pages (that’s brands) can be in more than one circle.

Circles are also used to filter your stream. So if you only want to see posts from family members, you can.

Collections are groups of posts you create or re-share under a specific theme. You set the visibility of a collection when you create it. So they can be public or private, just like a normal post. You can even create a collection that is visible only to you, which is handy if you want to bookmark a specific conversation or return to something later when you have time.

Google+ has always been about interests and so it allows you to follow collections without following the person and vice versa. You may be interested in my green technology posts, but loath my technology column posts. With collections you can safely follow one and not the other. Although I would encourage you to follow both!

Communities are just that and from experience (and if moderated well) can be a rich source of helpful information and - erm - community.