All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

Google Neon taken on June 14th, 2009 | Additional text added by RoseWrites on InfoBarrel Nov. 2nd, 2014
Credit: mjmonty on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (additional text added by RoseWrites using Pixlr)

This guide is for those who already have a Google Plus account.

When Google Plus was first launched, it seemed too complicated (to me). The circles, hangouts and communities were too much to sort out and organize. Sorting laundry is enough work for me.

Forget all that - you can post your work and become a social butterfly before setting up any of those groups.

One of the key advantages that G+ has over Facebook is that you don't need a bunch of friends to make an impact. In business, you need to have reach - bombarding your friends with posts isn't likely to accomplish it (you might even lose some friends doing that).

In fact, I find G+ less obtrusive than Facebook. I especially like that you have control over what and who you read. After participating in a forum thread on InfoBarrel, I decided to throw together this pictorial guide to get you feeling comfortable using Google Plus. (This is by no means an expert guide).

If you need help getting started and want a tour of every feature, I highly recommend you check out: Welcome to the Google+ Help Center.[1]

Open new tab and click on G+ avatar
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Accessing Your G+ Page

There are probably other ways to get into your G+ profile and stream, but here's what I do:

Step 2 Google PlusCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedOpen a new tab (since I already have my Gmail up and other windows open). Note: I recently discovered that you can sign in using a non-Gmail email address. Google support says:

"You can always add an alternate email address to your account. That way, you can sign in to your Google Account with either your alternate email address or your primary Gmail address."[2]

After I open a new tab, I just click on my avatar (upper right hand corner of my screen) and hit "View profile" (shown in the blue box, above photo).

Once you've done that, a new page opens up (see next photo).

Notice at the upper left corner it says "View Profile as: Yourself." This opens up a box (which can hold quite a bit of text) that states, "Share what's new..." [just start typing there].
Also, at the top of the page you'll see an entry field where you can "Search for people, pages, or posts" (another good reason to use a "real" sounding name and your own photo or likeness (something unique and memorable). 

View profile as "Yourself" to Share What's New

View Profile as Yourself to Share What's New
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved
As you can tell, you have lots of options. You can write text (and add links within your text), add photos, link, video, event, and poll (the poll is new).
I've used them all except for "event." NB: Remember to be in your Posts folder (shown underlined in blue beside About). I don't need to reset this, but I can't recall exactly when it defaults to this setting after you set up your profile. 
Just a side note: Whenever I have a homepage feature on InfoBarrel, I type a blurb in the Share what's new box with a link to the homepage (not my article's URL). Then I use the photos option and upload the intro photo of my article. That way, I figure, people might check out other work that's been featured on the homepage (if my article doesn't strike their fancy). 
After entering your link in the "attach" entry field, wait for G+ to scan it. Your intro photo should appear (or you can change it via arrows that appear at the top left side of the photo). You can add a blurb or not but make sure you select Public (shown as a globe in green) in the To: entry field before you hit "Share." You can add individuals there as well (using their G+ profile names).
View Profile as: PublicCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedNext, let's check out "View Profile as: Public." 
It's up to you, but I've hidden my followers (since some of them I'm not keen on). I only show the people I follow (since I feel right about promoting people that I feel are worthy).
They are shown (as in my next photo) under In her circles. (I'd rather have 131 high quality people/businesses shown there than 1,000 so-so types of followers). It's no longer about numbers online - it's about quality now.
In her circlesCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedIf you wish to change your settings, go to edit mode and you can hide your followers too.
I think we all have those followers we wish we could get rid of, right?
And the thing is, by association, people DO decide whether or not to follow you (based on who you are connected with online). Sorry, it's the truth.

I Don't Have a Twitter Account

but G+ automatically tries to hashtag your posts

I was pleasantly surprised that G+ automatically tags your post (most times). I dreaded learning about how and when to do that (so I just stayed away from Twitter).
By just putting a #sign in front of a word, G+ automatically tags your post. Sometimes you can pick and choose from a few tags by mousing over the first one that shows up.
Also, by putting a + sign in front of people's names, they are notified via email that they've been mentioned in a post. The entire post (text and all) lands in their gmail inbox. Talk about reach!
Demonstrating hashtag and +sign use on G Plus posts
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

You Can Access Your Options Menu Anytime

Options Menu on Posts
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

Sometimes I Don't See All Options (esp. Ripples)

Perhaps it depends on whether or not it makes waves

All of Your Options
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

Obviously, I Don't Mind Making Waves

Next (and here's where the fun truly begins) you need to get out there and be a social butterfly. I know, I know, I'd rather sit at the singles table and sip wine too. But, there are plenty of easy ways Google has paved a path for you to the A-list and you can stop the trolls in their path (without ever having to do more than push a button).

Only Dance with Those YOU Like for a Change

Won't You Join Molly?
Credit: Niall Walker (via TheArches on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Profile button top right of G+ pageCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedHere is what I do (and I'm sure there are other methods out there).

Click on the Profile button shown at top left of your G+ page.

Click on Home (the Profile button becomes the Home button when you click on it, actually). Then you'll be swimming in the stream. You can view all the posts of the people and communities that you follow.

Profile button becomes Home button when clicked onCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedWhen you initially set up your Google Plus account, some people, businesses or communities are already recommended for you.

I caution you to not select everything. Only choose the ones that truly interest you, otherwise it's like getting every section of a newspaper to weed through until you get the section you really want. For me, it's like making me read the sports section before I can check out the comic strips. 

Remember: you can always remove yourself from groups, people, or associations at any time.

You might likeCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedIf you haven't had a chance to make more than a few friends online, don't worry.

Follow people, businesses and other publications/media that you enjoy.

Soon enough, Google will show a little reminder box in your stream with communities or things "trending" that might interest you. But not the big "suggested posts" you see on Facebook. You can easily ignore these.

What I like is there is no outside pressure (from others) to follow and like certain things. You are left alone to "read the paper" so to speak.

E.g. I Follow Funny Technology and Forbes

Communities I follow on G+
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

Silence the Trolls and Keep them Out

Without ever having to write one word to them

Offensive language in G+ post exampleCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedOne of the best features of Google Plus is the ability to report, mute, or block posts. No longer do you need to engage in any "battle" online to explain how offensive something is. And truthfully, these people are trolls just looking to upset you.

Here's an example (I hid the identity of the person who posted this who was a "moderator" in some community). The words "sl*t" and "b*tch" were used in this cartoon (which I found offensive). I chose to show a small portion of this cartoon.

Remember That Down Arrow? (Top Right)

Click on it and you can select "Report this post"

Report this post on Google Plus
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

This Prompt Appears

I smudged out the name of who posted that cartoon

What are you reporting prompt on G+
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

If You Click on "Something Else" Google Asks

What's wrong with this post?

Other options when you report a G+ post
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

After I Clicked on "Something Else"

I chose it's hateful towards a group (women)

It's hateful towards a group
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

The Beauty of This System of Reporting

Thanks for your reportCredit: RoseWrites / All rights reservedWhat I like is that I no longer need to see future posts from this person.

In the past, I only flagged posts, but I found the same people were posting the same junk.

Or worse, they were becoming even more abusive online.

Finally, I figured out that after I reported him or her, I could simply Block so-and-so from my stream.

Google Tells You What Blocking Does

I smudged out this person's identity and avatar

What happens if you block so-and-so
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

Click on "Block" and You'll See This

Again, I've obscured this person's avatar and name

So-and-so is now blocked
Credit: RoseWrites / All rights reserved

In Conclusion

What's it going to take to get noticed by Google? A lot. There are simply too many of us online.

If you want to make space on the first few pages of Google for quality work (like yours), it's not enough to just ignore the garbage and "not feed the trolls."

We need to report it and block it.

Even though Google Authorship is gone, Google Author Rank remains. Your individual patterns online are easy for Google to track. The Big G knows who are playing by the rules and who are pushing the limits.

You don't need multiple accounts and identities (these will, in fact, work against you).

Concentrate on quality and only boost quality work. You don't need to "like and share" the work of others online - really. Even if it's your Aunt Blah-Blah (do that on Facebook).

Oh and hey, at first Google Plus might feel alien or lonely to you. But after a few weeks, it'll be one of your favourite social media hangouts. You might even feel as good about it as the Yip Yip aliens eventually did after they discovered radio.

Yip Yip Aliens Discover Radio