What is Google Plus? A Complete User Guide. (Videos and Blog)


If you think Google Plus is just another social site, you are in for a big surprise. What has been created is, put simply, a phenomenal tool for human communication, and much more. But it takes you to experience it, embrace it and ‘get it’ before this realisation really comes.

The complete guide to Google Plus will give you everything you need to use it as an individual or for business, including a free 90 minute video course.


Since its launch in 2011, Google Plus has been gradually moving towards being one of the most active social networks with hundreds of millions of people having active accounts. But what is Google+? And is it any different to any other social network? Well, as you will see in this video guide, it is very different indeed but you may need to let go of what you are expecting...

For many years I've written about communication skills and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) which is a great set of skills to improve influence and performance.

And if you are looking at business applications of Google+, then also check out my 'Google Plus Marketing Guide' here.

So, let's begin! As Google’s Vic Gundotra during his fireside talk Guy Kawasaki, says "what we see is very... heavily influenced by our own experiences and our expectations. Do you see a duck or rabbit below?


Whilst referring to the image of the rabbit/duck which first appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1892, he says "I suspect most of you see a duck." And he continues, "if you run the test at Easter many kids see it as a bunny." That makes sense, as when you change the context you are likely to change perceptions.

Vic Gundotra continues to explain, with Google+ people’s “expectation with social sites (being compared to the small garden I go to) is: I share with my friends, I get ads in there and that's a social site."

Google+, however, is something different and as such needs new language to explain the experience.

In essence…Google has added a “social layer across the services” people love and use every day. We can see this includes search, Gmail, YouTube, Calendars, Android and so on...

As Vic Gundotra says, it is difficult to understand until people experience it.

So when people ask, “What is Google Plus?” there is the temptation of saying it is “like Facebook” or “like Twitter” but once you get involved, it is not that similar to either. Yes they all involve “social” and “people” and “communication”, and both of those other social networks can be great at doing what they do, but Google+ is something different. It is bringing people together within the context of many of Google’s services. It is, quite simply, something to be experienced for yourself.

This is also why so many people cannot understand the concept of Google+. It is not simply a new social media platform, and many people are yet to grasp the concept of a social layer.

The aim of this guide is to help this process and give you just about everything you need in under 90 minutes of video.

Complete User Guide for Google Plus (Index)

Now you've read through the introduction to Google Plus you will probably want some tips before dive in and give it a go for yourself. As such, I have put together a video course comprising five videos about the social destination, with a sixth one to show you how Google+ extends beyond the social destination.

Also, each of these articles expands on any other areas and cover in much more details the subject matter, sometimes in great depth! There is also a section of resources on 'Google Plus Psychology' for those who want to appreciate how relatable content can create engagement, which in turn leads to connections, as well as many other principles that will enhance your Google+ experience.

Article resources (including additional videos)

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Google Plus Posts
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Google Circles
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Google Hangouts
  4. Complete Guide to Google Plus Pages for Brands and Businesses
  5. Complete Guide to Google Plus Communities
  6. Complete Guide to Google Local
  7. How to use Google Plus with Google Adwords
  8. Complete Guide to your YouTube Channel
  9. Google Authorship and Social SEO
  10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), using Google Plus

Google Plus Psychology articles (for those wanting to understand things a little more deeply)

  1. The psychology of sharing on Google+
  2. The psychology of engaging on Google+
  3. The psychology of relating on Google+
  4. The psychology of connecting on Google
  5. The psychology of comment threads on Google+
  6. The psychology of memes on Google+
  7. The psychology of creating trends on Google+
  8. The psychology of Google hangouts
  9. The psychology of adapting to change on Google+
  10. Google Plus as the new Town Square (an operating metaphor)

(NEW) Complete Google Plus video course (less than 90 minutes in total)

  1. Introduction to Google Plus
  2. Complete Guide to Google Plus Posts and Photos
  3. Complete Guide to Google Plus Circles and Communities
  4. Exploring Google Plus: how to search, filter and deeper your experience
  5. Google Hangouts
  6. ‘Google+ is Google’ - the social layer explained

Would you like to see a full list of all the content of over 300 things covered in the videos? Well click here!

Let us begin at the beginning and show you just about everything you will need to enjoy and apply Google Plus for personal and business reasons.

VIDEO 1 - The basics on Google Plus, the social destination

There is an element that Google+ has, and is, a 'social destination' and in this video, in just over 15 minutes, you will cover everything you need to get you going.

If you are super keen to build your network here is an article with some more hints and tips: Google Plus Quickstarter Guide

From here you may well like to learn more about how you can use Google+ to share content you create, and that you find from other people. This is all about photos and posting...

VIDEO 2 Google Plus Posts and Photos

There is a lot more to Google+ than meets the eye, especially when it comes to posting content.

Want to know where I create most of my images? Check out Canva.com

This video will give you a load of hints and tips as well as some guidance relating to making the most of Google Photos.

You know I said that Google Plus wasn't quite like any other social platform? Well, the same goes for when you share content, or as it is called on Google Plus, 'make a post'. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • You are not restricted to short posts of e.g. 140 Characters - they can be as long as you like
  • Each Google Plus post has a dedicated URL that can appear in Google Search as well (dependant upon your settings)
  • Google Plus has a 'What's Hot' list of content - this can really help a post go viral
  • Posts can be shared in a very controllable fashion using the principles of circles (see video 3 for more on this).
  • Google Plus and YouTube are not only linked but also the principles of circles applies here as well - as such, if can post a video just to certain circles
  • You can see the activity on the post in a new way as well. This is called Google Ripples...

What are 'Google Ripples'?

One of the special 'built in' elements on Google Plus is the ability to see who has shared both yours and other people's 'publicly shared' content through accessing Google Ripples.

As long as a post is public and it has at least one share, you can click on the upper right corner of a post and select 'View Ripples' from the list.

Google Ripples Shervington Kawasaki
The ripples from a video: Google Plus is Google - the social layer explained

This is a powerful tool for seeing who are the influencers when it comes to sharing certain content.

You can also pull up the same kind of ripple page for content that has been shared from YouTube, or even a webpage when that webpage has been linked to Google Plus.

Google Search and Google Authorship

When you use an appropriate head shot for your Profile picture on Google Plus your content posted there can not only appear in Google Search but it can also appear with the same image next to the search results. This is called 'Google Authorship'. Click here for a Complete Article on Google Authorship.

This could well give you a much higher 'click through rate' for that content. As you can see the two results below, one with a picture and one without. Which would you rather click?

Google Plus authorship

Also, it has been suggested that by using Google Plus you can gain a lot of traction in Google Search as well. Combing this with 'authorship' is something that is very powerful indeed.

Personalised Search Results

Now we have touched on the idea of posts and Google Search as well we can bring these together a little more.

When personalised search is switched on (called 'Search Plus Your World') the content that you share on Google Plus, or by using the +1 button on website as this is Google Plus too, can appear in search for the people with whom that content is shared. In other words, the circles to whom you share the content can use Google Search to find such content.

You can see when a personalised result is suggested by the small grey silhouette in the image above.

But let's take this a little further...

If someone has shared your content on Google Plus, i.e. shared into their network, not only could the person who has shared it see that content appear in Google Search, but also all of those people to whom the sharer has connected. This is great for giving the chance of your information having the furthest reach.

There is a lot to posting on Google Plus and you may also like to check out this article to take it a little further, including tips on posting, engagement and using it for social search engine optimization (seo): Ultimate Guide to Google Plus Posts

VIDEO 3 Google Plus Circles and Communities

Google Plus has a central feature of helping you put people into groups based on e.g. location, interests, engagement etc. Google Circles

You will also post different content to different circles, based upon the nature of content you are looking to share. As such different 'circles of people' can see different content that you, for example, have on your Google Plus Profile, or that you post i.e. if you don't post 'public' then you are posting either to individuals or circles.

Google Circles

Note: in the drop down (ABOVE) you can 'select all' people, view blocked, view ignored in this section.

Increase and decrease circle size relates to the physical size, not to the number of people in the circle.

When you combine the idea of Google Plus Circles together with Google Plus Communities, you will really get the social aspect of Google+. You will find communities on the tab on the side bar.

Google Communities

Google Plus Communities are the place you will find like-minded people, talking about the things you love.

The video below covers all the details you need about Circles and Communities:

Once you understand how vibrant Google Plus is already, you may like to explore communities further and even consider setting up your own. Here is a Complete Guide to Google Plus Communities to help you along.

Want to get organized?

Well below if the system I use (and people seem to love it too):

VIDEO 4 - Exploring Google Plus: How to search, filter and deepen your experience

Now you are really rolling with Google Plus you will want to find even more content to which you relate.

To do this you will want to know how to filter your Google+ Search results...

Google+ Search

There is a lot to Google Plus Search and it extends your reach far beyond the content you have in your home stream. In fact, each new search will bring up a new 'stream' of content, with fresh posts flowing into the top of the page. You can even save searches and they will be stored, just a click away, ready for the next time you want to access that stream of content. The video below walks you through, step-by-step. 


Also, once you've seen the video you'll see there is more to notifications than meets the eye.

VIDEO 5: Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts are a new way to communicate. Since their launch in May 2013 they are an aspect of Google Plus you will want to explore for yourself. They are simply awesome for human communication.

As such, the video below will now help you understand the different aspects of hangouts - text and video calls. From there you can see all of the details of how to get started, invite people to join you. Enjoy the party.


You have now covered all the basics of Google Plus as the 'social destination'.

The content will deepen your understanding and help create a conceptual model of Google+ as it will extend your understanding beyond the destination into the wider world of other Google Products and Services.

VIDEO 6: Google+ is Google!

As we reach the end to this user guide, let's now bring it together in one video to who you how Google+ is Google....


Very cool! As you can see now Google+ really is Google.

How about Google Plus for Business?

So, you may now get an idea of some of the reasons to be on Google+ as a business as well as an individual but may need some help with a) How to create a Google Plus Page and b) then build it up.

In which case here is what you need to read next 'Complete Guide to Google Plus Pages for Business and Brands'

Or, if you have a physical location, you can start here if you are looking at Google Local (and understand the differences between the two types of pages): Complete Guide to Google Local

You may be looking at setting up a community and bringing people (including potential customers) together too, in which case check out: Complete Guide to Google Plus Communities

Want to meet people to talk about Google and business?

Well join the 'Plus Your Business!' community on Google Plus for a load of advice and support. It is free and we are here to help.

Are you a content creator? Or would you like to be?

Here is a 'Complete Guide to your YouTube Channel' with a series of free videos to get you going there too!


You should now have a good idea how Google Plus works, as well as how it extends far beyond being a social destination alone. If you use Google as an individual or as a business you will want to get involved and use Google+

And for those of you who are wondering about all this 'commoogling' then here is a fun video that shows collaboration on a document whilst explaining how the community on Google Plus is all about about commoogling! What is Commoogling?