If you think Google+ is just a Facebook clone, think again. This powerful social networking service is loaded with tools that make easier than ever to communicate with others online.
To make the most of Google+, though, you need to move beyond the basics and learn how to use its more advanced features as effectively as possible.
Look below to find valuable tips for communicating more effectively and efficiently on Google+.
Make the Most of Circles
Unlike Facebook, which makes it extremely difficult to sort people into organized groups, Google+ allows you to basically drag and drop contacts into predefined Circles. Circles can be used in a variety of versatile ways. A few tips for making the most of them include:
Create Logical Groups with Circles – At the very least, you should have separate circles for work contacts, relatives, close friends and acquaintances. After all, there are things you’ll happily share with close friends but wouldn’t dream of sharing with coworkers. You can add new Circles at any time, so make sure to do so as needed.
Strategically Share Content with Different Groups – Every time you make a post on Google+, you can share it with specific Circles. That way, there’s no need to share work-related posts with relatives or to share family-related news with the world at large.
Create a Test Circle – Create a test circle and use it to test out posts before they go live. You won’t have to inflict a lot of random posts on the people in your circles, and you’ll have a chance to preview a post before you send it out into the world.
Drag and Drop to Share Content
Google+ allows you to share images, videos, links and content from other Google+ profiles by dragging and dropping them. Cutting and pasting are no longer necessary. Once you get used to doing this, you’ll appreciate how fast and easy it is.
Mentioning People in Posts
If you ever mention or tag people in posts on Facebook, you already know how to use this feature. Instead of using the @ symbol, however, you type a “+” before typing a person’s name. You’ll then be able to select the appropriate name to ensure that the correct person is mentioned. The person will then be notified of the mention and can elect to follow the post.
Edit Thumbnails for Shared Content
When you share content on Google+, it appears with text and a small thumbnail that’s grabbed from the original post. You can control the thumbnail that’s used. Just use the arrows to scroll through the available options and click the “X” to select the right one. This allows you to get your point across as concisely as possible.
To ensure that the right people see the photos you post, tag them. You can do so by selecting the appropriate photo while you’re in photo-view mode. Another option is to mention the person’s name in the caption of the image or in a comment below it.
Using Hangouts Effectively
Hangouts basically allow you to use video conferencing services from within Google+. The nice thing about it is that you can invite several people to join your hangout, so you can communicate with several people at once. A few tips for making the most of the Hangouts feature include:
As with all web conferencing services, you should keep noise in the room to an absolute minimum. It will make it easier to hear others and for others to hear you. Avoid participating in Hangouts when you’re seated near windows. Natural light can have a negative impact on the quality of your live video image.
You may appear to be “washed out,” which can make it difficult for people to see you. If possible, situate yourself in front of a background that has a light, soft color. Your face will stand out more prominently.
Position a light source so that it’s directly in front of you. The light will be cast right onto your face. If it’s behind you or to the side of you, people will only be able to see your silhouette. There’s no need to use a really bright bulb. You just need enough light so that your face is easy to see on the screen.
Google+ Hangouts are a fun way to connect with friends and family, but the service is generally not recommended over professional video conferencing solutions for businesses.
Hangouts don’t have any of the features that a solution such as ACT Conferencing’s Forum provides, such as the ability to conference in participants from many locations, or participants utilizing multiple devices such as tablets and smartphones, and invite new participants during the session Reserve Hangouts for personal use and find a professional conferencing provider for business purposes.
With these tips in mind, communicating on Google+ is sure to be easy and effective.
About the author: Brandon Serna is a small business and communications writer working with ACT Conferencing, an industry leader in communications services specializing in video conferencing services and web conferencing services