How to get started on Google+
Before you throw your hands in the air and shout: ‘not another social network', here's a little background information about what Google+ is and why Google has created it.
In recent years the web has become increasingly social. As Google aims to provide us with accurate and relevant information, it makes sense to have a platform that taps into the social nature of the web. We all turn to friends online for advice and information, and Google+ makes it easy to share those personal recommendations, interests and opinions with others.
Through this new platform,
Google aims to make the web more relevant, more personalised and ultimately
more valuable. Described as Google's social spine, Google+ is becoming
increasingly integrated with the products we use regularly, including Search
To get started, simply create a profile under your real name and have a look around. Google+ has a lot of different features, and as with anything new, you need to spend some time getting used to it and exploring what it has to offer.
For those concerned about your Google+ profile showing up in search results, simply go to your profile and uncheck the ‘show profile in search' box. This doesn't need to be a barrier to you joining. We're all concerned about online privacy, and you have total control over what information about yourself is visible publicly.
In the real world we have different groups of friends and contacts, so to reflect this Google+ lets you put people into different circles. So you can group your family members in one circle, and have separate circles for your friends and work colleagues. You can then choose whom you share your updates with, so you can share those embarrassing holiday snaps with friends and family, without your work colleagues seeing them too.
Who to follow
Who you choose to follow on Google+ is entirely up to you. Google+ isn't simply a place to promote blog posts; it's about the things that interest you. Whether it's fashion, music, sport, current affairs, or anything else for that matter, you'll find plenty of relevant content on Google+ with more being added every day. So take a look around and see what's there.
Dip into communities
Communities help you connect with people with the same interests as you. They are a new feature on Google+ and new communities are being created all the time, covering everything from parenting to pole dancing.
You can also start your own community if there's a topic you're particularly passionate about and there's no existing community out there.
Hangout with friends
With Google+ hangouts you can hold private video chats with friends and chat face to face, just as we do in the real world. They are great for birthday get-togethers, those evenings when you fancy a chat with friends over a glass of wine, and to connect with extended family who aren't local to you.
No one else can see private hangouts, apart from those taking part, and all you need is a webcam, mic and Internet connection. It's that simple.
Not enough hours in the day?
We're all busy and time is limited, and at the end of the day social media is supposed to be fun. So dip into Google+, don't be overwhelmed by it, just take a little time to look around the platform when you've got five minutes to spare. It isn't supposed to be a chore, it's supposed to make the web better for you.
To get started on Google+ visit plus.google.com.
Rosie Shelley works at Google UK as the Google+ Community Manager for the parenting sector.