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I admit that when I started using Google+, out of curiosity and as part of a Social Media training program that I set for myself, I was lost and confused. I didn’t know how and where to start.

By default, everyone who owns a Gmail account, which is a lot of people nowadays – for instance all Android users -, has a Google+ profile. I didn’t know that back then and when I found out, I decided to work on my brand new, but empty, Google+ profile and make it right, at least for image purposes. I was in the excitement phase, creating lots of profiles on every network that winked at me, but at least I wanted them all to look complete and real.

So I was there, I decided to give it a try and I finally decided to publish; it was a reshare actually, back in January 2015. While I was still doing some research, I decided to start joining communities with a great level of engagement and things started to move.  I worked on a strategy to keep publishing only within communities and my connections and engagement really improved.

Since that day, I liked Google+! Most publications were great, lots of interesting content in this so-called “ghost town”, communities were really active, and I had to stay around for more!

And then things started to happen on the way. I was soon contacted by a community owner to become a moderator of her community.  That was nice! Soon after that, I was invited to be a contributor in a Technology blog (and I decided to give it a try) and a few months later I was invited again to contribute for an Interior Design blog (tried again!)

Google+ was fun! The opportunities and the doors it opened for me where amazing!

But the turning point in regards to growing connections really came when I was included in a circle share of an influencer. I started showing up in other’s Plussers‘ circles thanks to that. I became part of the Circle Sharing Mafia. Some like to call it a Mafia as it is known that you can skyrocket your follower count thanks to this.  And it goes on and on, around and around and there are hundreds of communities created for the sole purpose of Circle Sharing.

In my experience this has worked, I have been shared in 890 public circles, but if you are not active and you don’t engage and spend some of your time on Google+, it will make no difference. People will stop circling you.

So this is all about circle organization, which I find it to be one of the nicest features of this network. If you’re planning to have lots of connections, it’s only helpful to work on a structure. Create circles of people who share common interests and name them. This will help later on if you plan to target topics to specific people.

I consider Google+ my most active channel, but it is also a demanding one if you want to keep it growing. Google+ offers no way of increasing your followers or your reach through paid campaigns. Everything here is organic and it can be slow, it can even feel useless at times.  But we all know Google and it takes care of its Google Plussers, at least when search results are considered.

But what do I like most about Google+? The ability to expand horizons and connect with people all over the world. Different to the use I give to my Facebook account, which is more private than public and where I only connect with the people that I really know know, like in person. Twitter can give you that expansion too, but it is not as easy to engage in an interesting discussion in less than 140 characters. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is lots of fun, but it’s more “headline” and “quick thought” type of fun.

So here is what I have learned about this often misunderstood network: it’s full of people and that’s what most of the people here wants, to connect with other people. Of course there is room for brands, there always is, that’s why Google+ created the “Business Pages”. And as I said before, Google takes good care of its Plussers, which is a real bonus for brands.  Search results… remember? 😉

One of the strategies that seem to work well here is how brands can create and use their communities, especially knowing how GPlussers feel about them. Many brands claim that they engage more on Google+ compared to Twitter or even Facebook.

In spite of the rumors going around about the imminent death of Google+ (for some time now) due to its decay in engagement over the years, we see the same thing happening to Facebook and they are still standing. Perhaps the unstoppable growth of networks lead to losing people on the way. Most of us are on Facebook, but how many times a day, or a week or a month are you really actively posting and engaging with your friends, family and acquaintances’ posts? The more people there is, the fewer people that might be interacting with you. There is just too much noise. But that’s OK.

And this is why many users decide to stay on one or two channels that perform good and leave the rest. Some decide to put their efforts on a few channels that really engage their audience, which should be a good strategy for social media. But in the meantime, we try to be everywhere; we try it all and decide to stay or go eventually.

So after two years, and passing from animals, to architecture, to books, to interior design, to technology, to design in general, to social media, and more, I can say that am one happy Google Plusser. With more than 25,700 followers and counting, I never thought that building communities out of pure interaction was so rewarding.

I’m a joyful Twitterer too, a ‘senior’ Facebook profile owner, a Pinterest addict, a LinkedIn enthusiastic, a ‘shy’ Instagramer, a proud About.Me page owner and a loyal YouTuber. But in my experience, I don’t get as much engagement on all those social channels as I get on Google+.

Yet, this network seems complicated but I think this is due to its simpleness. There isn’t much there but just in case, here are a few things that can help you get started, or continue trying:

Upload a nice photo of yourself (or logo if you’re a brand) and a great header. Fill your profile completely. The more information the better. You can also add links and blogs where you write (if you do) in the “Contributor to” area.  This will link that link to your Google+ profile instantly.

Start circling people. Google Plus will give you suggestions based on your own profile, location, and your friends, which you probably already have in your Gmail account.

Join communities that you find interesting for you. There is no point joining communities if you’re not going to be an active member. They’re supposed to be fun so try to enjoy your time while you’re there.

Always publish photos, or videos, or links with thumbnails. Plain text posts are not interesting to GPlussers. This is not Twitter. People really want to “see” something.

Use Hashtags. Hashtags work really well on Google+ as they do on Twitter.

Events and hangouts. Although I haven’t created any events yet, I am constantly invited to many and they seem to work really well for some users. Especially because when you send invites to your connections, the events will go straight to their phone agendas. Many people create hangouts, live public broadcasts, which can be later uploaded on YouTube. Of course, you can create private hangouts as well. They are, in fact, private by default until you decide to invite other people.  And you can use this as an instant messaging app, like Skype or Whatsapp.

Keep in mind that Google+ is 100% public. If you’re there, there is a high chance that you will be found. There are not as many privacy settings as you might find on Facebook, but there are a few.

So next time you decide to join a cool social network for yourself, or for a brand, consider adding Google+ to your equation. Who knows? It might surprise you!

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