Create your circles on Google plus
I am sure you have already used Facebook and therefore are totally familiar that whatever you share on your profile it is visible to all your friends. Now most of the times these status updates or other posts of yours need not be for all the people in your friend list. This is where Google plus scores over Facebook. Google+ allows you to organize you 'friends' into different Circles which can be your friends, colleagues, family etc. Now when you share something you can easily select which Circle of people you want to share something with. This also works the other way round – you can see the Stream (post of other people in your contact) of a particular Circle which means that you are efficiently saved from going to the profile page of every individual of your close group to see their updates.
So the first thing you should do after signing up is to create Circles and organize you contacts into it.
You can also create infinite number of new Circles and the best thing is that you can add a single person to multiple Circles. Out of the four buttons you see right next to the Google+ logo the extreme right button is the Circles button. Clicking on it will take you to an interface where you will get all of your contacts listed in panels (these are not just Gmail contacts but all your contacts) on the top part of the screen. For example in the image shown above you can see my one fake contact named Ankit. Now you just need to drag a panel to one of the circles shown above and they will be added to the Circle.
If you want to remove a person from a Circle you first need to hover the cursor over the Circle and when the Circle expands you will see the people in that Circle. Now just drag the person from the Circle to the panel area and he/she will be removed.
There are some basic differences in Google+, Facebook and Twitter follow system. In Facebook first there was a one to one paradigm- you follow someone and the other person also follows your updates by being 'friends' but afterwards you could follow a person or a group or institution by doing 'Like' on their page where the page creator need not follow you whereas in Twitter this is only one way- you can follow a person but that might not be reciprocated. In Google+ the concept of following is a little blurred. Here you can follow any person and they will get a notification regarding this but not the information in which Circle they have been added. Like Twitter there is also a follow Circle in which you can follow the updates of other people. As you add more people you can develop Circles according to your interests.
Feature of Stream and concept of 'bumping' in Google+
After you have set up you Circles now go to Stream by clicking on the Home button, this the first button on the right side of the Google+ logo.
Below the profile picture you can see the option to see the Stream from a circle otherwise by default you will see the Stream from all people in your different Circles. Below the Circles you can see other two options which are Incoming and Notifications. Incoming will show you the messages you have received from people outside of your Circles. Notification works similar to the one in Facebook like for comments, someone adding you in their Circles etc.
Below notifications you can see Sparks which will have discussed below.
For any social networking the most important feature in instant chat and it sits in the familiar position as in Gmail at the bottom right of the screen. Here we have another special feature which is the option to limit the people who can chat with you. If you want to allow only your friends and family to be able to chat with you then Google+ allows you to do that.
If you use Chrome browser then you will not see a pop up desktop notification like you see in Gmail.
Posting a update in not similar to Facebook and Twitter here. You have the same option of sharing an image, link or just a status update but here by default it will not be visible to everybody and instead you have to select a Circle or an individual with whom you want to share that update.
An innovative feature of Google+ is that when someone comments on an update then that update will come to the top. This is similar to Wave and will keep you aware of what is interesting.
This is what in Google+ is being called 'bumping' a thread.
Photos in Google plus
There is not much that I need to explain here. Upload a photo from your PC or your mobile and see what photos others have uploaded. If you have an Android then you can directly upload a photo to plus which is quite unsettling.
When you upload a photo it will ask you to create an album, on creating an album it will ask you to select the Circles with whom you want to share that album with. Here too you have to select who can see you photo unlike Facebook which by default allows every 'friend' of yours to see you photo. You can change your preference about who can see your photo in Facebook by changing the settings in Facebook preferences.
Photo uploading is just too simple. In fact if you drag and drop a photo from your desktop then it will automatically browse the location and you just need to start the upload. Otherwise too, photo uploading is as simple as attaching a file in Gmail.
Profile on Google+
If you are using any Google service which requires Google login then you have a Google profile. Google profiles have been mostly an unknown concept to most people because there was no use of it in first place, except for Google. So now to get a good amount of information about everybody who uses their services now they Google has just integrated Google profile on Google+. You Google profile is actually the hub of all your activities on plus. AS you can see there are six tabs - posts, about, photos, videos, +1s and Buzz which covers your all activities on Google+.
A noticeable change in the profile page is record of locations where you have +1'd any content. Before when you +1'd any page information was sent to Google to be analyzed ad utilized for the search algorithm. But now it is available to you in your profile page. Unlike Facebook 'Like' here what you recommend does not go to your stream but is recorded in your profile page.
Hangout feature in Google+
Hangout is a new feature in social networking scene. It allows you to video chat with a Circle or a group of friends for free. The limit of people chat at once is right now fixed at 10. To use Hangout go to your Home page and in the extreme right side you will see an option to start a Hangout. This will be visible in the Stream of that user and Circle.
Spark in Google+
Sparks is that feature of Google+ where you will find the content of different website which specifically interests you.
As you can see in the image I have selected Blogging as my 'Sparks'. For the first time on clicking Sparks you will asked to tell in what you are interested in. In this field trial of Google+ it looks like the content and news generated though Google news. When you search for a particular Spark it will show a drop down like the previous search result page of Google. Like me you can also pin up some topics of your area of interest.
You can also share the content found in Sparks by using the Share button present there. Like anything else here to you have to select the Circle or individual you want to share the content with.
Thank you for posting this article.
I learned enough details from instead of
searching around for detailed steps.
Ankit wrote a great article. I feel all Google + users should be required to read, it would help with some of the confusion. What confusion?, you might ask, look at some of the posts about Google+ Account.
Thanks for the post. i hop i understood a lot from this. I'm gonna start from now on.
really a helpful post.
I have a Google+ account but can't access it because i didn't get how to start.The post really helped me.