Thursday, 4 December 2014

What is Google+ all about?

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Submitted by Fiona Beal
When Google+ came out in 2011 my immediate thought was – I simply don’t have time for another social network!  But as time has progressed I have seen that Google+ is a different kind of social network, one that you can’t really ignore! It has grown in popularity to become the second-largest social media site in the world (according to Mashable) with a monthly use by 235 million users. 

What exactly is Google Plus?
Google+ is a social network that builds off of your Google Account. If you have a Google account you have a Google+ account! All you have to do is activate your profile.  Getting involved with Google+ takes your Google account to another level. You soon find you have a few pluses that you can’t just ignore… such as a great place for storing your photos, a fresh way of communicating with others in posts of more than 140 characters or via Hangouts, and a connection to many different kinds of communities which suit your interests, and more!  A big part Google+ is connecting you to other people who are interested in your passions. Google+ is interest driven.

So in a nutshell:
Google+ is a social networking site that comes as part of your Google account and it is just waiting for you to activate it so that you can discover a whole new, exciting cyber adventure…

How to get started:

google 2Step 1: Activate your Google+ profile

There are two ways that I know of which enable one to do this.  Your profile is what people will look at to decide whether to circle you (a Google term) so make it interesting!
a) After you have signed in to your Google account go to your Google search page you’ll see a +You sign at the top. When you click on this you’ll be taken to a page where you update your Google+ profile.

imageb) After you have signed in to your Google account type in https://plus.google.com in the URL bar and you’ll be taken to the same upgrade page to activate your profile.
Once your Google+ account is activated you’ll see that the You+ on your search page or email page now has your name!
If you would like a short video tutorial on how to get started with Google+ here is a 7 minute one given by a teacher, Jamie Linton: http://youtu.be/Up1AhYuXuWo

Step 2: Start to post in your new profile
In your post you can create a post that consists of text, images links, and videos. You don’t have to keep to 140 characters. You’ll see that you can post to an email address, to public (everyone) or to a circle of friends. That brings us to Circles which is what Step 3 is about.

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Step 3: Get started with circles
Google Plus has a central feature of helping you put people into groups based on e.g. location, interests, engagement etc. These groups are called Circles and they are fundemental to Google +. At the side of your Google+ page when you click on the word HOME a drop-down menu appears and if you click on the word PEOPLE you’ll make a start with creating a circle of people. Basically you create circles with your friends and acquaintances – they will never know which circle they are in. This Slideshare gives a step by step breakdown to the way Circles work.


Let's explore Google plus! from Fiona Beal

imageStep 4: Explore Google Plus Communities
Once you have explored circles it will be worthwhile expoloring Communities. Communities are groups of people with a similar interest sharing ideas. You can find communities by clicking on the side bar and choosing the ‘green’ icon’, then you will see recommended communities as well as being able to search for them there too. If you are a teacher in South Africa why not join the Google Educator Group community called GEG South Africa https://plus.google.com/communities/100791080087539989021


Step 5: Google Hangouts
Google Plus Hangouts are a great feature available on Google+. As well as ‘chat’, they allow you to group video chat with up to 9 other people, share links, screenshare and utilize all sorts of useful apps. You can use this link to see what hangouts you can enter:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/s/is/hangouts. If you would like to watccch a 10 minute video on setting up and running a Google hangout here is the link: http://youtu.be/AGHdqCkf9Ik

Step 6: Store and share your photos on Google+
Google took over Picasa and has incorporated it into Google+. This is a fantastic way of storing your photos online. In fact I have set my phone and camera to automatically upload photos to Google+ when we are in a WIFI region.  Here is a 10 minute video showing you how to work with photos and Google+: http://youtu.be/mQ0LjtJbOXs

Get a custom URL for your Google+ account
You can set up a custom URL for  your Google+ account so it you can be easily found. 
https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2676340?hl=en. IO did this and mine is
http://
google.com/+FionaBeal

A  task: Get started with Google+
1. Activate Google+ byvisiting https://plus.google.com/
2. Create your profile
3. Create circles. Circles are like folders to help you organise your contacts
4. Add people to your circles
5. Share some information and write a post!
6. Comment on other posts.
7. Search for what you are looking for with filters such as hashtags #
8. Enjoy!


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