Google Plus: What you need to know
You may or may not have been one of the lucky first or second round of invites to Google’s newest attempt at social. I happened to catch the second train to somewhere-other-than-Facebook, and even with the search giant’s former attempts at social in mind (Wave, Buzz), I’m quite impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
With that said, there are plenty of places and articles floating around the web outlining some of the features now available in the still-in-beta “project” from Google, so I’ll spare you the rehash. Instead, I’d rather focus on what you can be doing right to get ready for when your Google+ invite arrives.
First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind that you already have a major portion of your Google+ profile filled out if you’re using an @gmail.com email address. Remember those changes that Google’s been rolling out over the past few years? Your YouTube address was associated with your gmail address, if you had hosted images at blogger, they were all moved to Picasa, etc. All of these are now tied to your Google+ account, if you join the network with your primary gmail address.
Now for me, I have a pretty obscure and outdated email address. It held relevance when I first ventured away from Hotmail, but today, it’s a jumble of numbers and letters that, to be honest, is a bit difficult to remember. So with that said, I’m currently testing Google Plus with my old account details, but once the invite button goes live again, I’m going to switch over to an address I’ve had kicking around for some time, but haven’t really utilized. Why you might ask? Well, as we all know, branding is everything. And normally, I could care less about my email address, given that it’s most probably copy/pasted, and very rarely needs to be remembered. All that changes with Google+.
Remember that mad “land grab” when Facebook custom URL’s went live? I for one was up at 6am Central European Time in order to grab facebook.com/dantaylor, only to be beaten to the punch by another Dan Taylor. Ok, so I ended up with dantaylor1. Certainly better than dantaylor253 or some other derivative, but you start to see the importance of your custom URL. With Google+ your custom URL is directly tied to your Google profile name. And with that name, comes along your entire Google identity.
As with any writer, I had to cut my teeth somewhere, and waaaaay back in the day, I too had a blogspot.com blog in operation, tied to my Google account. Since launching turnthescrew.com some 4 years ago, I hadn’t really touched that old blog. In fact, I pretty much forgot that it was still in existence. Needless to say, Google+ dragged all those “My god…what a piece of garbage. Did I really write that?” memories out of the closet, and suddenly at my feet yesterday. So much so that I took the drastic step of exporting the blog (safety first) and deleting it altogether.
Why? Well, first and foremost, the content was by no means focused. Posts ranged from, literally, what I had for dinner last night, to found humor images, to YouTube repeats. Not awful, but certainly not the way I’d choose to represent myself today.
Likewise, a quick poke around the “Your Albums” section brought up a host of images that I’d virtually forgotten about, and as with the blog, didn’t necessarily want to have linked to me. Thankfully, there’s a feature within G+ that allows you to completely hide the albums from public view. As with the blog, I’m not 100% ready to delete this album, but I’d rather lock it down.
So…to get prepped for the day when your Google Plus invite arrives:
- Ensure that the account you want associated with your Google Plus identity is one that is memorable and speaks to who you are. Yaddabla184 is probably not the best representation. No, that’s not the account I used.
- Login to Picasa and Blogger under this account, and double check that you’re not confronted with mountains of yesteryear images and text. Unless of course you’re 100% happy/comfortable with your archives being on display.
- Head on over to your Account Overview and start adding the details about yourself that you’d like to be on display to the world
Speaking of your Account Overview, one thing I found particularly interesting was how search results will be affected my Google Plus. From Google:
Your name and any other fields you make public in your profile are searchable on the web and may appear in Google Search results.
This is a crucial bit of information that I believe will truly change the way people present themselves on the internet. As you can see from my screenshot (I’ve blocked out the specific URL, and you’ll see why in a second), my location, work title, bio, and the top three links I’ve added to my profile are displayed. For me, the links are the most crucial of the entire bit. Bios and titles are one thing, but pointing to other examples of your internet presence is huge.
And as I draw to a close, I myself am at a bit of a crossroads. As stated above, the email address that I entered Google Plus with holds no particular relevance to me (or anyone else) any longer, and it’s time to phase it out. With that said, as soon as the invite switch is returned to the ‘On’ position, I think I’ll invite my other, more meaningful @gmail account to the project, and then repeat the process of adding people to my circles – which might be a whole lot easier thanks to Google Takeout. A grind, for sure, but in the long run, a wiser, more focused approach to what I believe is the first service to give Facebook a run for it’s money in quite some time.