8: Google+

What is Google+?
Google+ adds a “social layer” to the Google experience, giving you the opportunity to connect with organisations and people you don’t necessarily know, but who hold similar interests or a shared outlook. You can also interact with people you do know, much in the same way you do on Facebook.

How do you use it?
To use Google+ you need to set up an account with Google and create a profile. This will give you personalised access to a range of Google services, e.g. maps, Gmail, YouTube and Google+.
Once you have a profile you can create ‘circles’, which allow you to categorise people and organisations you have added according to your own preference, e.g. shared interest, location, friends, colleagues, etc.

Google+ circles
You can view, share or post content on your news feed .This can include text, images, video or links to external websites, which you can choose to share publicly or to selected circles or individuals. You can also ‘+1’ a post, which is the equivalent of ‘liking’ a post on Facebook.

Why do organisations use it?
• To connect with customers on a personal level
• As an innovative way of promoting products and services
• To gauge customer opinion and feedback

Why should libraries use it?
• It allows libraries to get information to their customers in a visual and engaging way, raising awareness of the range of services on offer
• It improves the customer experience, and can encourage people to interact with their library service
• By having a Google+ channel your service will appear higher in Google search results

Some examples of library authorities who have a Google+ page:
Manchester Libraries
Leeds Libraries and Information Service
New York Public Library
Essex Libraries

Activities
Before you attempt these activities you might like to have a look at this video, which provides an overview to getting started with Google+:

1. Explore a Google+ page
Go to Google and type in +Cadbury to explore their Google+ page. You don’t need to have a Google+ account to do this.

2. Sign up for a Google+ account
You can use an email account that you already have to sign up for a Google+ account. Once you have an account set up, use the search box to search for a subject you are interested in. If you don’t know what to look for try searching for ‘photography’ or ‘pandas’, then +1, comment on or share a post you are interested in.

3. Develop your network
Find people or organisations of interest and add them to one of your circles. You can use one of the standard circles provided by Google+ or create your own.

4. Update your blog
Write about the above activities on your blog. What you looked up, people or organisations you put in your circles and how easy you found this.

Recommended follow-ups
• For those of you who still have time left or would like to know more about this topic, Wikipedia have a detailed article on Google+
• The Legal Bit module contains some information about rules and regulations governing the use of social media such as Google+
• Increasingly, people are using their mobile devices to look at sites such as Google+. Use your smart phone to look at Google+ and see how it compares to the desktop version.

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