It's currently great for building a brand, boosting your SEO and letting Google gather as much information about you as possible to enhance your experience across all the firm's products. But to make using its social network worthwhile, Google has included a few top-notch tools that even the most skeptical journalist should try out.
Lifehacker gathered up a few underused tricks of the Google Plus trade. Here's IJNet's take on how journalists can tap into them:
Use Circles to curate and share lists.
Sorting people in Circles isn't just for filtered post-sharing. Reporters can curate Circles around sources or their beat, as they would with a Twitter list. They can also share those Circles with the public or other colleagues. You can also have empty Circles, and use them to store drafts of posts or your favorite finds.
Build a photography portfolio.
When you click on your profile picture, you can scroll through a spread of photos. So if you're a photo- or multimedia journalist, this could be useful for showcasing your work if you're on the job hunt. And if you're taking photos on the go, you can use the Google Plus mobile app to automatically back up your photos from your Android or iPhone. These photos are private by default, and aren't shared publicly unless you choose to do so.
Auto Awesome your photos.
Certain photos that you upload can qualify to be automatically enhanced for certain features. For example, Google Plus will create an animated version of at least five photos taken in quick succession. With the Google photos app for Android, Google Plus will create movies based on short videos and photos you select.
Use your post to conduct a poll.
Post a question on your profile, write the choices in the comments section and ask your followers to use the +1s as votes. You can disable other people from commenting from the post dropdown menu, so that no one else can add other options for voting. The drawback: You can't disable voting for multiple options, but if you're using it for a group of trusted followers or just looking for general sentiment, it's a good way to garner feedback.
Use Ripples to track your posts' traction.
Even if you're sharing your posts on Google Plus for the SEO benefits like the Economist does more than for community-building, you can still get an idea of how far your links are traveling on the network. With Ripples, you can visually track how many public shares your content received and who shared it across a certain span of time. Here's an example from IJNet's Google Plus account:
Spruce up your Google Hangout session.
Outlets such as National Geographic and Mashable have been using Google Hangouts to host live discussions around issues for a while, but there are a few ways to fancy it up a bit. With the Hangout Toolbox, you can add title banners to the bottom of the screen, track your audience's comments across Google Plus and YouTube, and more.
IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.
First image: CC-licensed on Flickr via cordiaz2000. Second image: screengrab from IJNet's Google Plus account.