So perhaps you’ve been avoiding that leap to Google+. Why do you need another personal social media profile you ask? The problem with that question is that you are comparing Google+ (G+) to your experiences with Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. That would be a mistake. G+ is not like these other networks. Each social network has its own nuance and “flavor,” and G+ is no different.
The strongest advantage to G+ is in the fact that it’s owned by Google. Duh, you say. But think about the implications of that for anyone who works in a field or business where the internet is involved in locating new customers. Do people search for your business, or for solutions that your business provides? Yes. Then whether you like it or not, Google needs to be your friend. That’s true for your business, and the answer to that with Google+ is Brand Pages, but it’s also true for you. As a representative of your business, G+ gives you a wide open landscape to promote your business, yourself, and any of your personal passions. Plus, it also allows you to protect your identity by defining yourself as opposed to others who might have similar names!
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, however, whether or not you make regular posts to your personal profile is not as critical on your personal G+ profile. In this way, G+ is a bit like LinkedIn. It’s a great place to outline all of your “stuff,” but because of its affiliation with Google, it is much more visible to many more people. It also doesn’t limit you to business only, and so it has the potential to showcase a wider side of your skills and personality. With that in mind, here are 8 tips to set up (or adjust) a robust G+ profile that can protect and enhance your name and your credentials online.
It all begins with a Gmail account. Either log into your Gmail, or click “Gmail” from the Google home page. If you are just setting up a Gmail account, you will be prompted to set up a G+ profile! If you have a Gmail account but haven’t ever done anything with your profile, you can begin by clicking on the Profile Picture, probably a generic image, and then selecting “View/Edit” profile.
- Photo – Your photo should be a headshot. Those show up best when your name appears in Google searches, and you don’t want to turn people away from your business right away with a poor image. So, choose a professional or very nice photo. Stay away from “cutesy” photos, animal shots, vacation images, etc. Once you upload a photo, you can crop it or drag it to fit the window accordingly, but the image size is 250px x 250px.
- Banner image – This is optional, however G+ doesn’t restrict you in the way that Facebook does. You can use a business image or logo, or you can choose something more creative and personal. Again, you don’t have to select a banner, but if you do nothing here, you will get a diffused light background that comes in a variety of colors chosen by G+. The banner size is 940px x 180px, but keep in mind that approximately 25% of the right side will be covered by your Profile Picture. (There is also an option to use a row of 5 images, 150px x 150px each.)
- Tagline – You can show a bit of personality here, but you should also include what you want to be known for. Keywords are good here IF the information flows and is readable. Think “LinkedIn” here in terms of brief, succinct, and meaningful. Along with the information you include in the “Employment” section, this Tagline information will show up when someone hovers over your image or clicks on your image in a Google Search.
- Introduction – This section is the largest text portion of your “About” section. This is where you want to be robust, use key words, plenty of information with broad strokes. You can hyperlink text in this field, so it’s an opportunity to drive folks to any websites that you want to include in the “big picture” of who you are.
- Bragging Rights – This section is optional, but it’s a great place to list awards, certificates, or special achievements if those are helpful to your niche or you have special merits that you like to include. Some folks shy away from “bragging,” and others don’t, but the choice is yours.
- Occupation – This section is for the key words that best describe you. Keep it simple, and keep it focused. This is where you want to think about the SEO side of what you do or how you want to be found.
- Employment – This section is a template section. You are only given a field for the Job and the Dates. Remember though, this information will show up on the hover feature when your name shows up in Google Search results, so list the Jobs/Titles as you would on a resume or CV and include accurate dates.
- Other Profiles – There is no limit to the number of other profiles you can list, so put in any links that you want folks to be able to use to find you – You can customize them, too. Obvious choices for the professional will include LinkedIn, your company website, Twitter, if applicable, any landing pages that you or your company use, etc. Like a resume that lists all of your work experience, this is an excellent place to list your entire online footprint!
There are a few other fields that you can fill out, but these are the minimum for a professional G+ profile. Many of the fields will allow you to choose “Public,” or “Only Me” as an option for who sees the information. In most cases, you will want to choose Public so that your G+ profile works the way it’s intended to work. However, things like your mobile phone don’t have to be publicly listed if you don’t want to! (Please feel free to take a look at my G+ profile for the end result!)
BONUS: If you author articles or blogs anywhere online, you may want to go one step further and complete the Google Authorship verification process. You can read more about that HERE.