Why Google Plus is the Facebook Alternative

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.
Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

Google Plus is Google’s social network. It’s similar to Facebook but with many more features for arranging your network of contacts in organized units called circles. The shorthand reference is Google+.

When you sign up for Gmail or any of Google’s products, such as AdSense or Google Analytics, then you are automatically signed up with a Google account that has access to all their applications and web tools.

You can upgrade your Google account to Google+ simply by clicking on the “+You” link in the top left when you log into Google, as shown below. This is useful for building a network of contacts for your business, your hobbies, your friends or family, or anything else. And this is were the fun begins with boosting your business, no matter what it is.

Click the “+You” link to upgrade to Google Plus.
Click the “+You” link to upgrade to Google Plus. | Source

Advantages of Google Plus

Google+ is useful for improving communication among business clients and to collaborate with other people in your specific fields of interest.

The power is recognized when you have several unrelated things going on in your life. With Google Plus you can keep these separate.

For example, I have several endeavors in my life that have nothing to do with one another. I write online; I manage my stock investments; I run a business; and more. It would not be right to mix my posts or other communications with the wrong group of contacts.

Circles of individual contacts

Google+ lets you build a network for each endeavor without any overlapping. No one from one group will ever see what is shared with any other group. This is done by creating “circles” and placing your contacts into the proper circles. And yes, you can place any individual in more than one circle.

Communities of Special Topics

In addition to circles, Google+ has communities. You can join as many communities as you like. They specialize in anything you can imagine. And you can even start your own.

Posting Privacy

You can control your privacy in communities so what happens in any community stays there. In your Google+ settings you can disable “public posting” of anything you share in any community. Under “Settings > Profile”, remove the check mark for “Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile.”

Posting and Sharing Messages

To send a message privately to just one person, add a plus sign (+) in front of their name. Make sure you don’t have any other names of circles listed before your click the share button. The default is “public” so be careful when you first start out sharing posts. If you don't want your post to be available publicly, then remove "public" from the list.

You can add as many names as you wish. If you refer to someone in the body of a message, then be sure to plus their name, that is, use + before their name. This will ensure that they get a notification so they know you mentioned them, with a link your post.

Example of a public post.
Example of a public post. | Source

Note in the above example that if you click the little down-arrow, a box opens, as shown above, with the following two options:

Disable comments - Select this if you don't want anyone who you shared this post with to be able to add additional comments.

Disable reshares - Select this if you don't want anyone to be able to share your post with additional people or circles of their own.

If you routinely want to share posts with a specific set of people, create a circle and add them to that circle. Then specify the circle(s) to share your post with, as shown below.

Example of a post being shared with a specific circle.
Example of a post being shared with a specific circle. | Source

Include Photos and Videos in Posts

You can also include Photos, Link to another site, embed a Video, or create an Event, just by clicking the appropriate icon.

If you include a URL in your text or with the "Link" button, it will automatically display the first image from that page. If you want to show another image, hover over it and you will see a " < " and " > " that you can click to select another one. See example below.

Example of a post with a link included.
Example of a post with a link included. | Source

You can create as many circles as you wish. This is a powerful way to keep each one isolated from one another. But you can always add the same person to multiple circles too.

Remember: If you want to share a message with everyone, even if you don’t have them in a circle, then share your post with “public.”

Control Who Sees Your Posts

When people put you in a circle they see in their stream what you post. But only what you post publicly or specifically to that person.

If you also put that person in a circle, they can see anything you share with that circle. And you will see his or her public posts in your stream. But you will not see any other posts they share unless they have chosen to include you in a circle to which they are sharing their posts.

When you post a comment you specify which circle(s) you want to share it with. You can also share it with specific individuals. You can even share with just one person. In that case no one else can see it.

If you post privately to one person and they reply back to you, they can decide to share their reply with other circles or other people. But you can lock your post so that they can't change whom you originally shared it with.

People who add you to one of their circles can only see your public posts. If you want them to see something that you are sharing with a limited audience, one to which they belong, then you should create a circle for that audience and put them in it, such as a circle for HubPages.

I even made a circle for “HubPages Followers” where I place people who have circled me. That allows me to share only with those people who expressed interest by circling me. But don’t expect to see much. It’s rare that I post publicly and I don’t spam my circles. I generally post in communities that are specific to certain topics. And I shut off the feature to include community posts in my profile thread.

Easy to Avoid Spam

Remember that once you add people to a circle, you see all their public posts in your stream.

So what if you add people to a circle because you want to let them see your posts, but then they overwhelm you with spam.

If they are spamming publicly, you can do one of two things.

  1. You can remove them from the circle.
  2. You can mute them.

People are notified when you add them to a circle, although they don’t get to see what the name of the circle is. However, they do not have a clue if you remove them. They will just stop seeing your non-public posts.

If you mute them and leave them in a circle, they continue to see your posts that you share with that circle. But you will not see their posts that they share with you. You will not even see anything where they may mention you (with a + in front of your name).

Sharing with a Non-follower

If you send a message to someone who does not have you in any of their circles, would they see the message? Yes and no. Here's how it works:

The short answer is - they will not see your post in their stream.

But if they happen to browse your profile posts, they will see it since you shared it with them by mentioning their name (with a + in front of their name).

Of course, this is not a good way to communicate since the chances are slim that they will browse someone they are not following.

Anyone who looks at the posts in your profile will see…

  1. Anything that you posted to “Public”
  2. Anything that you shared with them.
  3. Anything that includes their name with a plus (+name).
  4. Anything that was shared with a circle in which they are included.

They will not see anything else. This is why you may sometimes see people’s profiles that say “This user has not posted anything yet or has not shared anything with you.”

Self-Promotional Posts

I don’t think Google created Google+ for self-promotional spam. They already have a negative reaction to pages (articles, Hubs, etc.) that are flagged by the manual spam filter in the Webmaster Tools.

The way I see it, anyone who wants an update to anything new you publish will be following you in HubPages anyway. And other platforms also have a method of receiving alerts for new articles.

I never post about my new articles in Google+. Anyone who wants to be notified about that already has the ability to follow me via HubPages.

Following Without Sharing

As I mentioned, when you add someone to a circle, they will see your posts that you share with that circle. But you can follow people without sharing your posts by adding them to a circle that is designated as “follow only” in your settings.

You can specify which of your circles should not be shared as follows:

When you’re in Google+, hover your mouse over the “home” icon in the top left corner and click on “settings” at the bottom. Scroll down to “Your circles” and click the “Customize” button. Remove any check marks on circles you want to only follow without sharing.

Control What People See in Your Profile

You can allow people to send you a message or an email from your profile. And you can limit this to only your circles, your extended circles, or only specific people.

When I first started setting up my Google+ account, I went through all the settings to be sure I had everything set just as I wanted. If you don’t do this, you may be opening yourself up for privacy invasion.

I see some profiles where people have posted their phone number publicly. They obviously don't have a clue. They never even checked what their profile looks like. How do I know? I see things such as “Works at Self” on profiles. I'm sure if they had checked, they would have fixed that.

While going over the settings, I was amazed to see how many options there are to make things shared publicly or not. I had to take it step by step. But most important, I checked to be sure that what I intended to do was what I actually did.

Final Thoughts

If you're using Facebook for your business, or even just to stay engaged in a social network, Google Plus offers a lot of alternative features that compliment what you have with Facebook. It's worth making it part of your online social activities.

© 2013 Glenn Stok

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easylearningweb profile image

easylearningweb 3 years ago

Glenn, This HubPage is full of great information and tips. I voted it up and useful. I just recently set up a Google plus account but to be honest I'm still not sure of the best way to utilize it. I'm bookmarking your hubpage and will re-visit.




Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

easylearningweb - Take your time to look around and you will soon find the best way to use Google+. Some people use it to stay in touch with others. And they can create groups, called circles, to keep their contacts separate. But check out the communities, too, when you have some time. You may find communities that are of interest to you. These are places where people share information among their members. With Google+ you can even invite people to have online video conferences. There's a lot more to it than I went into in this hub. Oh, and thanks for the vote up.

Davis-simmons profile image

Davis-simmons 3 years ago from Baker, Fl

Google Rocks My Socks! I Love It. Google Hangouts? Forgettabout it. Aint Nothing Better Than Google+

brakel2 profile image

brakel2 18 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thanks Glenn for writing this article about Google+. I have shared some articles publicly, but I do not know how successful this has been for me. You explained it in a thorough manner and made it more understandable for folks. I like Google+ and wish our photos were still on the web for good articles. Congratulations for your outstanding articles and for the prestigious award you recently received. Sharing. Blessings. Audrey

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 18 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

brakel2 - Hi Audrey. I actually made major updates to this hub a week ago since Google changed so many features since I first wrote it, such as the removal of Google Authorship. Thanks for checking it out.

gerimcclym profile image

gerimcclym 12 months ago from Colorado

Thank you for this very informative article. I've noticed that many writers on HubPages are also using Google Plus, and I'm in the process of doing so as well. Just printed out your article to hold on to as a reference.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

gerimcclym - Glad you found my discussion of Google Plus helpful. Once you set up your account, you can also include a link to your Google Profile on your HP profile so it appears with a G+ icon as you can see on my profile.

Anita Hasch profile image

Anita Hasch 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth

Thanks for sharing Glenn. I love Google Plus but still have a lot to learn.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Anita Hasch - Thanks for your comment Anita. I'd like to know what you love about Google Plus. How do you compare it to Facebook?

Anita Hasch profile image

Anita Hasch 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth

Hi Glen, I use facebook to connect to family and friends as well as authors. With google+ I enjoy the different communities and the super images they share. I also use it to share my articles on my blogpost.com blogs. As I say still got a lot to learn.

Anita Hasch profile image

Anita Hasch 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth

Hi Glen,

I wonder if you could help me understand page analytics. I have a few blogger.com blogs, ‘blogspot.com.’ When I go to each blogs individual stats page, the stats are all exactly the same. All the different stats as well as the page view stats. They are all 88. I added a gadget to each blog. ‘Add a gadget page views.’ When I go to the individual blogs, there is page views on each one. They are all different and much more than 88. One is 1,825- another 3,500- some are 2,000+ When I click on the sign for ‘Google analytics it says. Page analytics by Google connected. We couldn’t find any Google analytics tags on the page. What did I do wrong, and how can I fix the stats. Your assistance would be appreciated. Am I allowed to ask for help here or must I ask on the forum.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Anita Hasch - I am always glad to help whenever I can. However, I will only leave this comment here until you have a chance to read my reply, since it does not relate to this hub. I do have a hub on Blogger, where your Blogger question and my answer would help others as well. If you would copy and paste your comment to that hub, I will repeat my answer there and leave it there for others as well.

Now, to get to your question, in your blogger account you need to select the period: Now, Day, Week, Montth, All Time. If your selected period is too wide and your traffic is small, it will look like it's not changing.

You might also want to compare the Overview, Posts, and Trafiic Sources tabs under Stats. They all give useful information.

In addition to the stats in blogger, I prefer to use Google Analytics. You have to create a property for each of your blogs in your GA account, and then enter the tracking code in your blog under "Settings > Other". GA gives you a lot more detailed and useful information about how your audience is viewing yur blogs.

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