Welcome to the first part of my new series on Google+ (G+). I decided to write an informative series about G+ when I began to see how this new social network could help blogs grow. I wrote a little about it here. I'm not trying to convince you to abandon Facebook or Twitter for G+. Quite the opposite, I think using more than one social network to promote your blog is a good thing. I just want to show you how G+ can be an intriguing option.
It’s no secret that Google+ is a rival social network to Facebook. But did you know that Google+ has had a growth rate faster than Facebook? Google+ just celebrated it’s one year anniversary and in one year, it went from 0 to 250 million users. That’s huge! Think about what it will be one year from now.
Here’s something else to think about. Google already has millions of users for their other products, such as Blogger, Gmail and YouTube. Those users have instant access to all of Google's products, including G+. In essence, most of your future G+ "followers" may already have one foot in the door.
Getting Started on G+
Set up a G+ Profile
This will be easy if you already have a Google account. If not, you will need to create one.
To set up your profile, go to Google.com. Click on the +You symbol on the black bar at the top of the page.
Just like with other social networks, you need to add a profile picture to your page. First, you need to decide if this is going to be a personal page or a blog/business page. You can create separate personal and blog/business pages if you want (just like with facebook). But you don't have to.
I struggled with this one. I have two facebook pages...one for me and one for my blog. I like to keep them separate. I thought I also needed to do this with my G+ page. But I don't. Why? Circles help me keep them separate. Don't understand the circle thing? Just wait, next week, I will tell you everything you need to know about them. Circles are the reason why I like G+ so much.
Let's assume that you are going to use one G+ page for everything (like I do). You need to decide on a profile picture to use. Will it be a picture of you or your blog (i.e. blog button)? Remember, this is the picture that is going to be associated with your G+ page when it's referenced anywhere....emails, blogs, search engines, etc. I chose a picture of me because I wanted to give my page a "personal" look. I'm still a little freaked out by seeing my face everywhere, though. I'm getting over it....slowly.
Next, set up your "cover photo(s)". When someone becomes a user of G+, they will get the standard default cover photo. This is what it looks like.
It's boring, get rid of it. Hover (your mouse) over the picture and you will see a message, "change cover photo". Click on it. Now decide on what type of photo that you will use. You can choose one large landscape photo (like Martha Stewart's G+ cover photo).
Or, a "scrapbook photo" format like mine.
Update (7/8/12) Apparently G+ has changed the cover photo options since I set mine up (a few weeks ago!). Now they have "upgraded" the cover photo options, giving you sample photos to choose from or upload your own photo (from Picasa or your computer). The cover photo size is 940x180. G+ will crop it for you but keep in mind....that's a loooong and short photo so choose wisely.
You can still use a set of small photos but now you need to make a collage. I recommend going to PicMonkey.com and choose the "ducks in a row" collage option. Again, remember that your pictures will be cropped short!
Here is what you need to remember. The picture(s) that you choose will describe you and your blog. When someone hovers (their mouse) over your profile picture on G+, they will also be able to see your cover photo. What they see is up to you.
Pick a picture(s) that will tell them what your G+ page is about. Do you blog about crafts, home decor, painting furniture, food, sewing, gardening or all of the above? Then choose a picture(s) that tells that story. Alot of people make a decision on whether or not they want to visit your page based on what the see when they hover over your profile picture.
Another very important feature of your profile page is setting up the information in your "about" section. You can always go back and add or edit information later but concentrate on these two things first.
1. Other Profiles
List your blog URL and other social networking sites here. You can also add links to other things...such as publications, personal websites, etc. List anything that will provide your reader with more information about you or your blog.
2. Employment Information
Why is this important? Remember when I said that people will see your cover photo(s) when they hover over your profile picture? They can also see a short description about you and/or your blog. I call this your "hover information". What do you want people to know about you and/or your blog? Put that in the "employment information" section. Remember, someone may make a decision on whether or not to visit your page based on what they read (and see). To show you what I mean, here is some information that I have in the "about" section of my profile page.
Here is what my "hover information" looks like.
I'm "just" a stay-at-home mom that blogs as a hobby. Notice that I do not have "SAHM" for my hover information. I decided to describe myself as a blogger with emphasis on the type of blog that I have. How you list your information is up to you. Be creative with the picture(s) that you use as well as the description that you choose. Make people want to meet you and read your blog.
OK, you're ready to go. Next week, I'll tell you all about G+ circles and the different ways you can use them to your blog's advantage. I'll also talk about hangouts, plus 1's and the newest feature of G+, events. Part 2 of this series will be on Saturday, July 14th.
Also, a reminder. On Saturday, August 4th, I will join up with some other bloggers to hold a large G+ blog hop. So work on getting your G+ page started and ready because you will be able to network and meet potential followers soon.