*Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 6th, 2012. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2013.
If you’re one of the shrinking numbers of people that haven’t registered for an account yet there are features within this social network that make it extremely interesting to you as a student, friend and aspiring professional.
Below is a list of 15 Google+ features to familiarize yourself with that will justify adding another social network to your list of bookmarks.
Features on Google+ for students to know about
Similar to a Facebook ‘Like,’ on Google+ you can +1 a website, business page or status update which gets counted as a vote that you approve of the content. This way you can let your connections and the organizations – like us at Rasmussen College – know how much you appreciate them.
Within Google+, for each person or organization that you wish to connect with you can click the follow button and add them to a “circle.” Think of circles as groups. This feature allows you to compartmentalize your connections into different groups which make it easier to view and share information based on who you think would want to see it. Imaging being able to post a joke that your classmates may find hilarious but your boss might not. This allows you to keep your personal, school, work life, and all other social identities separated yet interconnected.
3. Find People
When it comes to searching for family, friends or classmates, Google+ recommends adding contacts from your Gmail account. In preparation for your career if you’re interested in connecting with people within a particular community – including business leaders and peers within your industry – using the people tab to make those connections is very easy. Then you can stay informed through networking or by getting updates, photos and other relevant information directly in your stream.
This nifty feature allows you to have video hangouts online with up to nine of your friends. As a student, you could use it to coordinate a group study session for an upcoming exam. You can also view live “Hangouts on Air” hosted by different groups, businesses and even Rasmussen College on YouTube.
Using Google+ Event is a great way to meeting new people and learn from subject matter experts that are hosting their own Hangouts on Air. As a student this will provide you with an even greater opportunity to learn from industry professionals outside of the classroom. This feature can also sync with your email and phone calendar so that you are always aware of what events you want to attend with reminders!
Do you have a specific interest that you have been trying to get questions answer about or meet people that share that same interest? Use Google+ Communities to make new friends and professional connections. It’s a great way to jump into a topic of conversation on a subject matter that you enjoy and want to be a part of for whatever reason.
7. Google+ Chat
With this feature you can text, voice or video chat with your online connections. It’s a great way to further develop relationships or even ask questions with your classmates or even instructor. Within the chat feature you can even start a party to let your friends know that you are free to use the hangout function!
8. Google+ Pages for Businesses
Connect with your favorite businesses or institutions. Be the first to receive inside information, access to special money-saving deals for the budget-conscious student or leave a review for your favorite establishments.
9. Google+ Profile
Think of your Google+ profile as a sort of mash-up between Facebook and LinkedIn with some very unique features for highlighting both your personal and professional life. From creating your own personal tagline, to introducing yourself and claiming a few bragging rights this profile becomes a hub for getting to know you and where to learn more.
10. Mobile Apps
Access all of these features via the Google+ and Hangouts mobile apps. That’s right, you can do a live hangout anywhere from your phone with you friends sitting at home! The potential for online study groups or project meet ups on the fly is finally possible!
11. Search Plus Your World
Have you ever posted something online and had to dig back to find it? With Google+ you can run a basic search and find it again! Google’s results are personalized with the “Search Plus Your World” feature. Now you can search within Google to find any previous photos, posts, +1s, and shares just in case you need to revisit them.
Just like a news feed, your stream contains all of the most recent and important posts from your connections. You can even filter your stream to include different information from each circle you have created such as classmates or family. And unlike Facebook some cool features include video embeds, larger photos and GIFs!
13. What’s Hot
Staying in tune with the latest trends and viral videos can be time consuming. But with the “What’s Hot” tab it’s easy to stay caught up and join in the conversation or share it with your circles. Follow the top trending hashtags, popular posts and communities to stay up-to-date on what’s going on.
Within your Google+ profile you will see a Local tab. This is your one-stop-shop for finding local eateries, shopping and offers. You can leave reviews for your favorite places and even search for new ones!
15. Connect with Rasmussen College
Add us to your Circle to stay connected during your college education and receive school and career-related tips and news in addition to tips for best using Google+!