Google+ is a new social networking “layer” from Google. I say layer because it’s a augmented Google experience. Google put some great thought into it and has actively and publicly made efforts to improve the bugs that can only become visible when people are invited to use it. They have done this by being publicly available in Google+ and have allowed users to add them to their circles.
If you know me, you know that I enjoy exploring new platforms and checking out how they can be used to make new connections with interesting people and build upon one’s digital reputation. Google+ makes this very easy but you should be aware of a few things before you jump in and start adding people to your circles. Here are three tips to help you as you get started with Google+.
1. Understand and set your privacy settings. Google+ has some very good privacy controls.You can assign “Circles” to your privacy settings. For example, you can open up your profile details to your friends in your “Friends” circle but close your profile to those that are not in a circle you have created. You can check out you privacy settings by clicking here or on your name at the top of the page and to the right when you are logged into Google
2. Do not add everyone Google suggests to your “Following” circle. You are going to tick one or a few of them off. Google created the “Following” circle for you to place people in that you may not know but find what they share interesting. Avoid grabbing all the tags of people Google suggests and placing them in to your “Following” circle. Google will send each of them one or two emails, based on their settings, notifying them this action. If they don’t know you, they could deem this action as “spammy” and do nasty things to you, in a digital sense. (I have first hand experience with this and it sucks.)
3. Understand the difference between “Hide”, “Block” and “Mute.” Google+ will make a number of suggestions to you as to who you should add to your Circles. They are getting this information primarily from your Gmail contacts. There could be a lot of people there that you do not know. If that’s the case, and you are sick of looking at them use the “Hide” button. In the top corner of the contact card is an “X.” Click it and they will go away and Google will likely never show them to you again.
A lot of people will re-share the same thing in Google+ rather than make comments on the original post. If you are sick of seeing these posts, on the right there is a “Mute” button to the right.
The “Block” button is found on the profile page of the person you are viewing. If you click on this handy button, the person’s profile will be added to your “Blocked” circle. They will never see your content or other information in your profile. In addition, their activity will not show in your activity stream. Have you placed your boss or ex-spouse in this circle yet?
In conclusion, remember that Google+ is a social network. It’s not yet a replacement for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. I recommend taking it slow and figuring out how you will use this to keep your network up to date and visa versa.