Despite having rubbed many of the tech press up the wrong way when it first came out, Google+ has developed a passionate fan base. Whatever your views on it, there's a lot to take away from Google's social media effort, developing a reputation for blogging, photography and design.
But whether you've been using the site since day one or have just recently jumped into it, there's a lot of little tricks, add-ons and features that you can take advantage of and make your experience richer.
Text & Image Shortcuts
If you want certain parts of your post to stand out, you can insert symbols for it to stand out. If you place two asterisks before and after the selected text, you can bold the text. Similarly, using two underscore symbols will format your text in italics and using two hyphens will strikethrough the text.
Some quick key shortcuts:
Space = Scroll down stream
Shift + Space = Scroll up stream
Q = Jump to chat
J = Scroll down by single post
K = Scroll up by single post
Return = Start comment
Tab + Return = End comment
Also, you can add videos, photos and links to your post by simply dragging them directly to the share box.
Hashtags and mentions
Similar to Twitter, you can mention people in your updates by using the @ symbol and mark your post's topic using the hashtag symbol. However, the handy part of Google+'s hashtags is that when you check a trending topic, you can pause the feed, allowing you to see what's going on without being overwhelmed by constant updates.
Linking to a Post
If you want to link to a post on Google+, just right-click on the post's date/time of post and select "copy link address." When you put it into your address bar or post it on a different site, it will bring people to that post. Alternatively, you can go into post options and select "Link To This Post."
Editing/Modifying a Post
Ever post something and notice a typo or feel you could have phrased it better. If so, you can edit a post long after you've posted it. Go into your post settings and select "edit post."
If you're following numerous people and you want to see more content from a particular circle and less from another, you can filter how much noise comes from each circle. To do this, go into a circle's feed and underneath your name, you will see a slider allowing you to bring more or less updates from this circle into your main feed. Handy if one circle is dominating your feed and you want to hear what others are getting up to.
Send Private Messages
Although Google+ doesn't have a private message function like Facebook (although you could argue that it has and it's called Gmail), you can send messages only intended for one or two people. When you're posting an update, just get rid of whatever circle is there and type in the names of those you want to communicate with. When you post it, only those people will be able to see your message.
Because of its formatting and style, Google+ is better for directly publishing blog content on the site than other sites. When you're writing a post, you can mix it up by posting long-form posts which can be 100,000 characters long. Sometimes, longer, more comprehensive posts can get a lot more engagement so experiment to see what people respond to best.
While you're linked up to your Gmail profile, you can find people based on specific friends. Just go into Circles, and select find people. When you've done that, simply drag one of your friends to the search bar and you will get suggestions based on that person.
Friends' About Page
If you're Gchatting with someone, you can access their about page by clicking on their name in the chat window. Doing this will direct you to their about page without leaving the chat.
If only a few of your friends are on Google+ and you want to get more out of it, there's an active community out there for you to discover. While Google has its own suggestions page, Creative Web Design posted a number of Google+ directories to help you find the most followed and most interesting users on the site.
The jewel in Google+'s crown, hangouts let you talk to a number of your friends at the same time. While starting a hangout is easy, when you're on Gchat, you will be notified anytime your friends are holding a hangout so you can join in. The same notification is given when you're on Google+ itself on the right hand side.
Google+ changed the option to only have thumbnail images at the top of your Page, which is what Google heavily adopted themselves across their brand pages. Now you can upload a banner image, giving your profile page a strong design. Make sure you're utilising this new feature, as it's part of a recent update Google made to it.
- This clever template tool will help you when you are designing a cover image to fit with your profile image. It will allow you to see which part of your photo will be cropped so you can test the design before going live.
- If you do want to go for the thumbnail option, then why not go for a good old photo hack? Check out this collection of clever hacks for a bit of inspiration.
- If you're running a company Google Plus page, you should consider creating a small 'twibbon' style icon that can be overlaid on your employees' profile pictures. This will allow them to be easily identified as official admins/moderators of your Google Plus page, and this will carry through when they join other circles.
- If you're stuck for inspiration for cover images, you can access a handy resource here which contains some pretty nice cover images to jazz up your profile.
- Try and make the most of video posts on your profile. When you upload a photo you have the option of adding text onto the overlay banner, which will help with your design and encouraging people to view your content.
- One for the more advanced designers here (and we're not totally convinced this is a nice feature), but you can follow this guide to find out how to create an animated profile picture. Use with caution as you don't want to risk putting people off with a profile that's too busy. However, if you spend time on a nice animated image, then you can add a bit of colour to your profile page.
One of the handiest features of Google+ is its ripple feature. Using this, you can see how viral or how shared a particular post or link was. So long as the post in question is marked public, you can go to that post's options and select "View ripples." Alongside a visual representation, you will each each person's post on the right hand side when you zoom in.
Did you know that if you're using the iPhone app, you can send feedback to the Google+ team just by shaking your phone? Now you do!
You can change the settings on this so that photos are only uploaded when you have a wi-fi connection. Useful if your 3G connection is slow or you're reluctant to use your network data.
Editing PhotosGoogle+ has an impressive array of features for editing photos, which puts it on par with many photo sharing apps and programs out there. Alongside the basic features like cropping, sharpness and rotating, you can apply filters to your images as well as other fun elements like speech bubbles and fake beards, if you feel your photo is enhanced by these additions.
Cross Posting Images
If you want images from your other accounts to go to your Google+ account, a handy way is to upload everything onto dropbox. Using If This Than That, you can make sure Instagram, Facebook Camera, and Flickr uploads go into Dropbox. This way, you can download them from Dropbox and later upload them onto Google Plus. This is only if you don't save uploaded photos onto your phone.
There are a number of ways to bring your photos from your other social media accounts, mostly in the form of plugins.
Facebook - Move Your Photos, a chrome extension that will move your Facebook photos onto Picasa.
Instagram - You can use the IFTTT method or you can use Instaport which will export them to Pisaca.
Flickr - You can use FlickandShare or Migratr to complete this.
An interesting feature from Google+ events is the ability to group everyone's photos together to create one massive album. Everyone that's attending the event can take and automatically upload photos onto an events album, showing everyone what's happening in real-time.
Only Show Important Events On Google Calendar
If your feed is getting clogged up with events from Google+, you can disable these by going into settings in calendar. Scroll down to near the bottom and you find options either to only send reminders when you've responded 'yes' or 'maybe,' or to only show invitations that you've responded to.
If you have been invited to numerous events, but are unsure as to which ones you can attend, you can see if you're free at that time by clicking "check availability" on the event's page. Here you can cycle through each day to see if there are any other events on during that time.
For brand pages, if a post is receiving too many spam comments or if the topic at hand is quite sensitive, you can disable comments as well through post options.
+1 Plugin Button
Like all the major social media sites, Google+ also has its +1 button, which you can add to your site. You can find the code for it here and you can adjust the size, width and to an extent, the shape. https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/+1button/
Importing your content from Facebook.
Although you can't do it directly, there are steps you can take to add your existing Facebook content onto your Google+ page. How To Geek has a great guide about how you can bring all your Facebook data, photos and videos to your Google+ profile.
Similar to Facebook, you can see how your profile looks to the outside world. Simply go into your profile, type in the name of someone you're following in your circle to see what they're presented with when they visit your profile. This is helpful if you're applying different privacy settings to different circles.
Privacy through circles
While Google+ is mainly a public site, there are numerous ways to make sure you're only sharing info with people you trust. The first is through circles, creating them gives you the opportunity to share your next post with them only and the next time you post something, that circle will automatically be selected. You can also control which circles you appear in as well, you can block or ignore users through this so they can't see your profile.
Restricting search visibility
If you don't want your profile to appear in Google search, go to your about page and edit settings there. Near the bottom of the page, you will see a section called 'public discovery.' This controls whether your profile is visible on search or not.
If you want to give your account an extra layer of protection, you can activate two-step verification here. What this does is if somebody somehow gets access to your account's username and password, when they enter it, your phone receives a text or voice mail with a code to enter. This means that would be hackers would need to steal your phone as well to be able to access your account.
Not everyone has the time to read through your about page, so taglines are a handy way of summarising what you're about. It's best to treat it similar to Twitter's bio as you want to make sure it's snappy and to the point.
SEO & Links
If you're a blogger or write content online, you can make sure that Google's search engine recognises who you are by filling out your 'About' page. Link to your other social media profiles, link to your website (make sure you do the same thing vice versa), fill out your profile and add people to your circles. The more you do this, the more people who will add you to their circles and the chances of your profile popping up beside a blog post.
The debate about how much Google+ influences your search rankings is unclear, but you can at least place things in your favour by fleshing out your profile.
Not everyone has the time to read through your about page, so taglines are a handy way of summarising what you're about. It's best to treat it similar to Twitter's bio as you want to make sure it's snappy and to the point. Your tagline will also appear beside your name on things like Disqus.
Creating A Vanity URL
If you're linking to your profile and you want your URL to be a little…snappier, then there are a number of services to avail from. Gplus.to
is one such example. Simply give a nickname, add your Google+ ID and voila, a new shorter address is yours.
If you want to create an RSS feed for your profile (or someone else's profile), there are a number of different apps that will help you do this. Sites like Plu.sr and Google+ to RSS will help you do this.
Save content onto Evernote
If you're a regular user of Evernote, you can save content directly from it onto your . Simply find the email address for your Evernote account, add it onto a new Google+ circle called "Evernote," then any time you want to save something from Google+ onto it, just share with that circle. Google+ will send the content in an email and Evernote will translate into a notebook item in your account (Tip originally from ComputerWorld).
If you're a chrome user, there are a number of extensions out there that will improve the experience for you. Such extensions include:
Google+ Tweaks: Lets you preview images when your mouse pointer hovers over them and uses the entire screen when you decide to go full screen.
Google +1 Button: Lets you +1 and share a page, wherever you are on the web.
Circle+: Let you add people to your circles on Google+, wherever you are on the web.
Streamified - Lets you cross post to other social media sites
Photo Zoom - Lets you zoom in on photos on Google+
If you have Chrome for iOS, the app has been recently updated to allow sharing on different social media sites. You can now share links and pages you find onto your Google+ account. For Google+, you now have the option to open up web links either on Safari or on Chrome.
- PC World list all the ways in which Google+ tops for Facebook for businesses, and all the tips for making it happen.
- 5 tips you need for privacy on Google+, according to CIO.
- SocioloG+ is a fantastic resource, breaking everything relating to Google+ down into simple and helpful sections.
- Virante Orange Juice's full 'Owner's Manual' for businesses on Google+ is filled with tips for brands on Google+.
- Virante supplement the above guide with advice on how to best optimise your brand on G+.
- New to Google+? HuffPo have 15 tips for Google+ newbies.
- Blind Five Year-Old has a full guide on SEO for Google+.
- Rebliss has 35 shortcuts, tips and tricks for Google+ users.
- If you're having trouble getting circled on Google+, Plus Examiner has got you covered with 32 tips.
- Experienced Google+ users have compiled all their advice into one guide on PC World.
- Slash Gear's complete guide to Google+ is very in-depth and tries to alleviate all common issues among G+ users.
- Social Media Examiner's new G+ user guide is complete with helpful diagrams and videos.
- PC World are here again to give you nine reasons to make the switch from Facebook.
- There's some effort in actually downloading this Make Use of guide to G+, but it is lengthy and knowledgeable.
- If you're still hesitant about joining G+ but are prepared to take the plunge, Read Write Web's guide will hold your hand through the transition.
- Mashable get a bad rap, but its guide to Google+ is comprehensive.