In just a few short years Google+ has grown to be the second most used social networking site in the world. This fact won’t surprise those who use it; it’s easy to get the hang of, intuitive, powerful, and entertaining. It was designed to integrate flawlessly with all other Google services (Google Docs, Gmail, Android, etc.), includes improved privacy features, and has more natural ways to manage relationship circles (you won’t find any ‘friend requests’ here). Perhaps best of all, Google tends to favor Google+ when it comes to indexing, so you know that you’ve got the world’s most used search engine on your side. But as you get ready to ditch your old networks and jump face-first into the virtual world of Google+, there are a few unspoken rules that you need to keep in mind. After all, Google+ is a society, and as with any society, it’s important to have a firm grasp on the etiquette. Here are seven tips.
1. Be polite. There’s something about the anonymity offered by the internet that makes otherwise rational human beings behave like complete jerks while online. They become overly argumentative and quick to insult. They post threats, make prejudiced slurs, and generally behave like undisciplined junior-high students with something to prove. Don’t be like that. Respect the validity of other people’s opinions. Use phrases like ‘please,’ and ‘thank you’ when communicating directly with other users especially if you are a business. If you feel the need to offer criticism, then do so constructively. There are enough places on the internet for impotent rage and unfounded hatred; keep Google+ free of it.
2. Share responsibly. With Google+, it’s easier to amass followers than ever before. Did you have a few hundred Facebook friends? Good for you. Google+ can connect you to a few hundred thousand. So, when you share an image, post, or whatever, know that it could potentially be circulated much further than you originally anticipated. Ask yourself, could this post be damaging or overly offensive to anyone? If so, then reconsider. You needn’t worry about keeping everyone on the internet happy (it just can’t be done), but you should veer away from anything you wouldn’t share in polite company. Also, use the Google+ circles feature to limit private posts to only your closest circle of friends and family.
3. Add to the conversation. When you have something relevant and important to say, then do so. Comments are a great way to hash out new ideas and to grow collectively. However, the comments themselves should remain positive, and should always stay focused on the original topic. Also worth noting is that there are going to be those who make offensive or ignorant comments just to incite response. These ‘trolls’ should be simply ignored .
4. Keep it (mostly) professional. Google+ is not Facebook or Twitter. It’s okay to post personal images or talk about some cool thing that you did while on vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but keep it to a minimum. Instead, share thoughts that will incite rational conversation. Google+ is all about sharing content, not selfies.
5. Give credit where credit is due. When you re-share something, make sure that you give credit to the creator. Don’t try to pass something off as your own work; doing so will not only draw attention away from the original poster, but will also kill your credibility in the long run. When you do re-share, leave a comment with the original poster thanking them for the content and letting them know what you found to share-worthy about it.
6. Don’t spam. Google+ is no place for advertisement. Spamming other users with commercials or offers will only get you blocked. Instead, create good content to draw potential viewers in, and then provide a link in your profile that people can use if they become sufficiently interested in your business. For example, home automation provider Vivint makes use of Google+, but not to shove virtual business cards in everyone’s face. Instead, they review relevant and topical news and data to give interested parties something that they can consider, share, and discuss.
7. Keep your hangouts civil. Many of the same rules of politeness that apply to posts are also important when using ‘hangouts.’ Be civil and polite. Wait for your turn to speak. Never become personal or insulting, and keep your language free of slurs, obscenities, and yelling. If the conversation becomes too crowded, you can always make use of the chat-box. Don’t be afraid to mute someone who isn’t respecting the rules of the forum, and be aware that others are just as likely to do so to you if you get out of line.
Whether you are using Google Plus for your business, to make connections, or just to add another social media platform to your repertoire, knowing how to use it properly will be the biggest key to your success.
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