For anyone creating and promoting their own content, it’s hard to find a better platform than Google+. G+ is currently the second-largest social network on the web, with only Facebook claiming higher numbers of active users. As of January 2013, it has more active users than Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and Tumblr. It also has a very engaging, more intellectual community that accepts and appreciates original content. In order to really get the most out of Google+, there are a few tips you should follow.

Circle People You Don’t Know
Facebook is about connecting with people you already know – people you went to school with, family members, people you work with, etc.  The biggest mistake people make when setting up a new Google+ account is that they add ONLY people they know, or people from their Gmail contacts. Then they wonder where everyone is. “This place is a ghost town! Does anyone post here at all?” No, it’s not! And yes, they do!

For the newcomers, G+ can seem isolated at first.

In this regard, G+ works more like Twitter. Imagine how empty your Twitter feed would be if you only followed people you knew personally or people from your Gmail contacts.

The best way to get started is to do a search within Google+ (using the search box located at the top of your Home feed) for topics or keywords you’re interested in. You can search for “indie authors”, “tech writers”, “foodies”, “DIY”, “musicians”, “artists”, etc. If you can think of it, more than likely someone else has posted about it. Then start adding some of those people to your circles. Their Public posts will start to show up in your Home stream. Instant anti-ghost-town!

Interact With People You Don’t Know
One of the biggest secrets to networking on Google+ is TO NETWORK! Engagement, conversations, +1’s (Google’s version of Facebook’s “Like”) and shares are excellent ways to get people to notice you. The more you interact with other people’s posts, the more people will start to add you to their circles. Then your posts will show up in their stream and it’s much more likely they will comment on and interact with your posts!

Public posts are just that…PUBLIC! So jumping into the conversation and adding comments is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Never be afraid to add your two cents to an existing conversation. If you can see it, you’re invited.

Add yours and watch the magic happen.

Self-Promote and Cross-Promote
The community on Google+ is very accepting of original content and it’s a great platform to share the things you create, whether it’s blog posts, short stories, artwork, music or anything else. It’s also not uncommon for people to re-share content that they like. With this in mind, pay it forward. Share your content, but also +1 and share other people’s content that you enjoy.

Bottom line, you will get out of Google+ what you put into it. If you’re willing to put some effort into building your circles and letting other people know there’s a person behind your profile pic, you’ll find that you get the same amount of engagement and interaction back.