Well, much to my chagrin, I just saw that PRNews is offering Google+ training for $329.

This is so disappointing to me. Clearly they haven’t read that the new tool is in a sophomore slump and that it’s not yet available for businesses.

But it’s not stopping my own industry from trying to make money teaching people how to get in there, create a personal account, and begin using it enhance your personal brand as it affects your business or career.

So I give in. But I’m not going to charge you. I’m going to teach you how to use the tool, in its current iteration, right now.

Creating your personal profile

The first thing you want to do is create a Google profile, if you don’t already have one. Go to Google Profiles, sign into your Gmail account, and click on the edit profile button. It prompts you with specific things to fill out, such as an introduction, occupation, websites, blogs, places lived, gender, and even a nickname. Once you’re finished, just click save and you’re ready to go. You can always edit it so don’t stress about making it perfect.

Be sure you use the same keywords you use for your own web properties so, when people search, they’ll find several ways to reach you, not just your website.

Organizing Circles

Google+ is set up with what they call Circles. They’re a little bit like LinkedIn groups, which is how I’ve organized mine. I have Circles for PR, marketing, franchising, healthcare, manufacturing, authors, technology geeks, friends, and family.

What this allows me to do is post information that is pertinent to each group. For instance, I wouldn’t want to post franchising information to our manufacturing clients and prospects. Nor do I want to post PR or marketing information to my family. They love me, but they don’t care.

Once you get into Google+, you’ll see how easy it is to add people to your circles. It’s literally just a click and drag. Super, super, super easy.

Think about how you can use this same philosophy to reach your customers and prospects. You now can send targeted and segmented information to groups of people who care about the same things.

Using Hangouts

Hangouts is like video Skype on crack because you can have up to 20 people, well, hanging out via video. Joe ThornleyMartin Waxman, and I use Hangouts to record Inside PR every week. We used to just call each other using  Skype, but now we can see each other’s faces, which makes for a completely different experience, both for us and our listeners.

Think about how you can hold meetings with customers and prospects via Hangouts instead of getting on a plane every time you need to look one another in the eyeballs.

Using the stream to share content

The stream is a lot like the Facebook stream. You post a status update, a link, a photo, or video. The difference here, though, is that you can decide who you want it to post to – one of your Circles (or more than one) or the public.

You can share blog posts, company news, white papers, videos, podcasts, photos, eNewsletters, or any other content you’re producing. Add a personal message, choose your audience, and you’re good to go!

Tracking traffic to your web site or blog

Chris Penn has a fantastic blog post about how to measure traffic to your web site or blog from Google+. The first thing you want to do is shorten your link with the Google shortener (not bit.ly or su.pr or owl.ly or any of the others). All you have to do is copy your link (from your web site or blog) and paste it into the shortener, which I’ve linked to in the previous sentence.

Then, when you open Google analytics and look at your traffic referral sources, you’ll see plus.google.com as one of them. You can track how much traffic is coming from the site to something you own.

I recommend you read Chris’s entire blog post for other ideas on measurement.

Managing privacy settings

No matter what Google says about Plus being more private than Facebook, please remember this is GOOGLE we’re talking about. The company that knows everything about what you do online. And when I say everything, I mean everything.

The first thing you want to do is go into Google+ and click on your name. A menu will drop down and you can choose “privacy.” Then scroll down to the “sharing” section. You can change your settings in a number of sections.

The way I’ve recommended you set up your Circles is a privacy setting, in a sense. But please, please, please remember that anything you put on the web, even if you limit who can see it, isn’t really private. You may limit it, but someone in one of your Circles may decide they want to share it with their Circles. And suddenly you’re no longer private.

If you aren’t in Google+ and need an invite, leave a comment here and I’ll get it taken care of for you!  And, of course, you can find me on there by clicking here.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich