social media how toHave you heard about all of the recent changes on Google+?

Google+ is always evolving and recently made some big changes to help create a simpler, more beautiful Google+.

And these changes can have an impact on how you use Google+ for business.

So here’s everything you need to know.

#1: Header Image and Profile Photo Changes

Google+ changed the page layouts to allow more space for your photo strip. And your profile image is in a prominent spot on the top right.

profile image

The new Google+ page layout with larger header.

You can choose whether you’d like to continue to feature five photos at the top of your page or select one main cover image (like Facebook). To change your photo strip, simply click the “Edit Profile” button at the top of your page and click on your photo strip.

You’ll then get the option to have one panoramic cover photo or five small scrapbook photos.

header photo

Select a header template for your page.

If you choose to have one header photo, make sure the cover image is 940 pixels x 180 pixels. Recommended file formats: jpg or png.

Also pay attention to how your profile photo looks in the new layout. The logo appears larger now, so make sure your picture doesn’t look grainy with the recent update. The minimum profile picture width is approximately 250 pixels x 250 pixels.

profile photo layout

The Social Media Examiner Google+ Page.

If you choose to keep using scrapbook photos in your strip, your photo strip images will continue to be displayed at 110 pixels x 110 pixels.

Here are a few Google+ pages with some creative panoramic cover photos:

Washington Post:

washington post page

The Washington Post Google+ Page.


hootsuite page

The HootSuite Google+ Page.


bravo page

The Bravo Google+ Page.


volkswagen page

The Volkswagen Google+ Page.

You’re free to use your header image to promote your business or product or include a call to action. You’re not restricted from adding promotional messages as on Facebook. So have some fun with it.

Some ideas on how to use your new header:

  • Showcase a product
  • Highlight a fan of the week
  • Include a business phone number or web address to attract new customers
  • Add a call to action to encourage people to learn more about your business

#2: Customize Your Navigation for Business Communication

Google+ moved your list of circles from the left-hand side to the top of your page.

You now can choose the two circles that are most important to you and add them to your top navigation.

In the example below, I decided to have my “Customers” and “Focus Group” circles as important tabs in my navigation. And I can also easily view other circles by clicking on the “More” drop-down button.

customers focus groups

Select two circle streams as tabs in your navigation.

To choose which tabs appear in your top navigation, simply click on the “Circles” button on the left navigation ribbon. Then drag your favorite circles to the right of the “Drop here to create a circle” icon as seen here:

drop here to create circle

Drag two circles next to the "Drop here to create a circle" image. Those two circles will become tabs in your top navigation.

This will set which tabs appear in your top navigation when you’re on the home screen. You can only have two circles visible in the top navigation, so choose the circles most important for your business.

Some ideas on how to use your custom navigation:

  • Keep a tab to quickly see what your customers/clients are posting
  • Keep a tab of people/pages you are networking with or want to engage with
  • Make it a goal to engage with a few people every day from these important circles

#3: Page Promotion on the Right-Hand Sidebar

When you first log in, Google+ now recommends that people check out certain pages on the right-hand sidebar. It’s unclear how their algorithm determines what pages you might like, but pages seem to be associated with those followed by people you’ve circled.

In other words, the more your page is circled, the more likely it will appear on the sidebar. This is essentially like getting free ad space for your business, so make an effort to build up your followers to get featured here.

build up followers

Google+ suggests pages you might like based on people you follow.

When someone hovers the cursor over any of the suggested pages, Google+ displays the page’s header and profile picture. This is another reason to have an eye-catching photo that will attract attention and clicks when people see your page suggested.

page header profile display

Hovering your mouse over a suggested page reveals a pop-up image of the page.

Some ways to get into more circles from the sidebar:

  • Make sure your page profile picture catches the eye
  • Make sure your page header looks good when in a pop-up
  • Work on gaining more followers to start appearing on more sidebars
  • Post and engage regularly on your page, so visitors will see you’re active

#4: Trending Topics and Explore Section

In the past, trending topics in Google+ only appeared after doing a search. Now, Google+ is featuring the trending topics on the right-hand sidebar of people’s home screen. This means more people will be looking at trending topics, so your business could get more visibility by posting about topics Google+ members are discussing.

trending on google+

The "Trending on Google+" section appears on the right-hand side of the stream.

Not every trending topic will be relevant to your business, but sometimes just sharing a helpful article about the topic could get you noticed and circled. Just be careful that you actually contribute to the conversation and be helpful. Don’t spam.

Note: Google+ does not feature “Trending on Google+” on the home screen when logged in as a page. You’ll need to click on the “Explore” icon on the left navigation ribbon to see what people are talking about.

Some ways trending topics can get you more visibility:

  • Write about a trending topic or share a relevant news story
  • Engage with anyone who comments or shares your post with others
  • Share and engage with other pages talking about a trending topic
  • Monitor your circle counts to see if writing about trending topics gets you into more circles

#5: New Hangouts Page

Google+ added “Hangouts” to the left-hand navigation to highlight the live YouTube video chats going on that others can join. It’s a quick way for everyone to see the public and On Air hangouts. This page is only visible when you’re logged in as yourself, so you can’t see it when managing your page.

Check this page when you first log in to see the topics people are talking about. Join a public hangout that’s relevant to your business and introduce yourself to everyone.

This is a great time to network and meet other people (not a place to make sales pitches).

hangouts to join

The new "Hangouts" page featuring public and On Air hangouts.

And since hangouts are becoming a prominent feature of Google+, you should definitely plan to host hangouts on a regular basis for your business. The more hangouts you host, the more likely you’ll get featured and seen by others in this public Google+ page.

To start a hangout as a page, simply click on the “camera” icon on any post that you’ve created to start a public hangout. See below:

start a hangout

To start a hangout as a page, simply click on the camera icon on any post.

Some ways to use hangouts for your business:

  • Join hangouts relevant to your business
  • Create regularly scheduled hangout sessions for your fans and customers
  • Host public hangouts/webinars on topics important to your business
  • Record important hangouts that you can post on YouTube and share again
  • Meet with clients and/or customers using hangouts
  • Keep an eye on what types of hangouts are going on for topics to write about

#6: Enhanced Photo Albums and Videos

Photos and videos are now full-bleed (no borders) and appear larger in the new layout. This just shows the importance Google+ places on photos and video, and gives another reason for businesses to share more photos and videos with their followers.

Check out how a recent photo album takes up almost the entire stream:

photo album

Photos are full-bleed in Google+.

Also notice that when you hover your mouse over a photo album set (above), you see a group of all the photos appearing in a lightbox image over the photo. Very nice!

And videos are also full-bleed and seemingly take over more space in the news stream:

youtube example

Example of how videos appear full-bleed in Google+.

There are many creative ways to utilize photo albums and videos for business. It’s definitely worth the time to invest in this media.

Some ways to use photos and videos for your business:

  • Be creative and use photo albums like a great PowerPoint or SlideShare presentation
  • Share YouTube videos relevant to your business or videos useful to your customers
  • Share recorded hangout sessions with your followers
  • Post photos and videos of your office or staff to show the people behind your company

#7: Easily See Who’s Engaging With Your Page

Google+ is making it easier for brands to see who is sharing and +1ing their content with one click. By simply clicking on the “+” or “Share” icons on any post, you’ll see an “activity drawer” open that features a thumbnail image and name of every person and page who has engaged with that post in some way.

activity drawer

An activity drawer reveals who is engaging with your posts.

Businesses could get this data before, but now it’s easier to see everything all at once. It also reveals that Google+ wants to encourage more engagement, and this new activity drawer might encourage more people to start +1ing and sharing to get seen more.

Action items for your business:

  • Get noticed more by +1ing and sharing other pages’ posts
  • Engage with anyone who comments on your posts
  • Recognize anyone who shares your posts by commenting to thank them (if possible)
  • Keep a note of people you see regularly engaging with your content and circle them as engagers

#8: Easily Switch Between Page Admin and Personal Account

It’s now easy to switch back and forth between your personal profile and page profile by simply clicking on your profile image in the top-right corner.

switch between

Clicking on your profile icon reveals the pages you manage.

After clicking on your icon, a drop-down list of all the pages you manage will appear below.

You can also access your managed pages by clicking on the “Pages” icon on the navigation ribbon on the left. This will also allow you to switch back and forth.

pages icon

Clicking on the "Pages" icon in the left-hand ribbon navigation will allow you to switch between page and person profile.

Google+ has surprised us all with an entirely new layout and it’s exciting to see all of the potential ways businesses can benefit from the recent update.

So what do you think about all of the new changes? Leave your comments and questions in the box below.

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  • It’s exciting to see all these new changes in Google+. Any other changes you’d like to see?  Anyone else waiting for Google+ page analytics?

  • I like the idea of having a large horizontal photo on top. It’s a great way to promote your site or brand. Now I just have to find time today to make one. 🙂

  • @SteveAlberts:disqus Yeah, there are a lot of advantages of having one cover photo — and I think a bit more visually appealing. I need to work on mine, too. 🙂

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  • Welcome changes. Unwelcome additions to my ever-growing task list… grrr.

    Thanks for keeping up with this, Michael. I know how much work it is to track rapidly changing technology.

  • Melissa P

    Thanks for posting and sharing this! 🙂

  • So happy you found this useful. 

  • @93ee7695e62eb9a0753afe281a25c1c2:disqus I’m really glad you found this helpful.

  • I am loving the new changes! Now I need to actually go back and add, fix and edit these items on my own page! thank for the info.

  • Michael Currey

    Check out my post about the G+ banner/profile images. I made my Photoshop template available for people to download 🙂

  • I am still looking for a way to post to my business page with a tool, such as Hootsuite.  Until I am able to do so, it seems unnecessarily cumbersome and I will continue to just post from my personal profile.  Is there perhaps a way to have my WordPress blog posts automatically feed to my Google+ business page?  While not exactly causing engagement, at least it would allow me to share information on G+ as my company.

  • Dave Nat

    Great summary of the changes, Thanks! Google+ is headed in the right direction.

  • Yeah, I love new design and layout. I have a lot of work to do on my business page, too. 

  • @miketada:disqus I hear you. I’d like to see some Google+ integration with more 3rd party tools. It definitely help more businesses get involved in Google+.  And then when they see the value, I think they’ll start logging-in more and interacting. 

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  • Google+ is still the best thing that has happened to my blogging career until now. Thank you for this post.

  • thnx for keping us updated !!- now we need a team dedicated to keep up – aggghhh

  • @judchuks:disqus So glad to hear how Google+ has helped you.  Can you share some of the impact?

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  • Fabulous article, Mike! It inspired a quick blog post pointing to it at Keep up the good work! 

  • @ccb2f80d29163e74b38c6c8e9b5e6af0:disqus I know, right 🙂

  • Michael, excellent article. Chris Lang just did a hangout with Daniel Waisberg where he shows us how to track, test and listen to social media with the new tools Google just rolled out. Worth checking out:!

  • Jackie1707

    #7: Easily See Who’s Engaging With Your Page:
    I can’t get this to happen! Help please!

  • @d7793688279474053f902a8aec569049:disqus Share you page url here so I can take a look at your post activity drawer.

  • Thanks for posting this helpful summary – I think we’ll stick with the animated GIFs over a cover photo, at least for now! – Ian

  • Jackie1707
  • Terrific as always. I have come to depend on all of your tutorials to get the quick and dirty! Thanks

  • Hi Mike, thanks so much for the heads up! I knew about the obvious header and profile picture changes but not about the other 7. So I sure appreciate this. Thanks again! ~Ilka

  • @BajaByBus:disqus Yeah, animated gifs are a great way to get attention.  I really like what Red Bull is doing, too.

  • @aehannan:disqus So happy you found this tutorial helpful. 🙂

  • @ilkaflood:disqus amazing to watch Google+ evolve. We’re all just learning every day.

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  • Great post! Do you know of any limitations that can and can not be on the header image? Is it like facebook, where you are not allowed to post your site or contact info, or is it more open? Thanks!

  • @twitter-384413100:disqus , great question.  There haven’t been any set limitations. Businesses are free to promote their products, include a call-to-action, add phone numbers, etc.  Definitely take advantage of the opportunity right now. 🙂

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  • Katherine

    So useful to know.  I’m on so many social networks that I sometimes miss things like this.  Keep up the great work.  Love your blog.

  • Jonathan V. Malo

    is it possible that the “trending on g+” section is only available in english setting, mine doesnt show`s it maybe cause I use it in french?? 

  • Leialoha Unruh

    Exciting and tons of info. whew. So happy your there to walk me through it instead of having to learn it on my own.

  • Thanks a lot for reminding me in this post. I think it really needs to renovate my Google Plus profile. This is a recommendable guide. Cheer 🙂

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  •  I agree. I spent some time last night and finally created a nice looking google graphic! If anyone wants the basic layout I can email them my PSD.

  • Try checking the “Explore” section when logged-in as a page.  If you don’t see it on the right, it might be the language setting.  Perhaps it hasn’t rolled-out yet.  Let me know.  Now I’m curious what other languages might be delayed. Thanks!

  • @google-5ef8a6362b821477fcb925e353a23232:disqus I’m really glad you found this article useful and letting me know. 🙂

  • @greenest:disqus thank you for letting me know you found this post helpful. Have a great weekend.

  • Excellent post! Thanks for sharing – Really helped me out quite a bit. 

  • I understand that these are the new Google plus changes & I have completely loved the new interface but I was looking for more details on how these changes were going to impact business.

  • All tips are well and good but I think all these features are copied so, how users attract and start working on Google+.I feel Google need  to do some innovative things which are not copy by another websites.

  • @VictorAchilles:disqus I tried to show how these new changes can help a business better engage – and use their time most effectively with the new enhancements. This doesn’t necessarily impact us financially right away, but can definitely impact our social engagement strategy (which can definitely lead to monetization if done right). 

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  • Cool, I’ll check it out. 🙂

  • Awesome @SteveAlberts:disqus . Can you share your page URL?  I’d love to see it.

  • Thanks Mike for the great tips I was delaying going into google+ but now I feel a sense of urgency!

  • @twitter-325573287:disqus yeah, now is a great time to start building your network in Google+. It just keeps getting better and better. 🙂

  • Marcie Little

    Thanks so much for this article! I’m excited to start setting up a google+ page for the company I do social media work for but had a question: Should I set it up from my personal (non-work related) profile, or log in from a company profile and create it from there? Does it matter?

  • WOW!! I like the fact that google + have so many options. I do find it a bit confusing. Is there any beginner video tutorial for people are new to Google +?

  •  Sure! I was going to include it but didn’t want to look like I was trying to plug my page. Here’s the link:

    I’m coming out with a Google Plus Ninja Tips ebook and thought I would promote it in the graphic.

  • @google-5f8aecbd8f76105e66bf96aa8091a0bb:disqus Great question.  All pages should be administered by a Google+ member.  So log-in as yourself and set-up your company page. You can add other administrators and remove yourself at any time.  I hope this answer helps. 🙂

  • @facebook-689329128:disqus  Google has some great short video tutorials that will walk you through all the basics.
    Start here:

    I also link to a number of helpful videos and articles in this newbie guide to Google+:

  • What an amazing job you did writing this article!  I really appreciate the detail you gave to each of the changes.  I didn’t even realize that Google+ offered so many options.  They are really trying to compete with Facebook!  I’ll have to go to work on my profile.  Thanks so much.

  • Vinz

    Nice ! Thanks for this article, about #2: you can add a circle as a new tab with a middle-mouse click when you are in the “More” button 😉

  • Jayati Thacker

    Very informative article.The idea of adding the cover photo would really help a lot.

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  • Marcie Little

    Thanks so much! Yes, that helped a lot 🙂

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  • Lisa Raymond

    Is there a strong reason for a G+ business page to switch from the five separate images to the one large image? 

  • I think using one main photo strip will allow you more space to showcase a certain message or call-to-action.  But test 5 small images vs 1 main image to see what works best for your business. 

  • Glad you found the article helpful.  Yeah, definitely try using one main image to see how it works for your business.  

  • Sweet. Good to know. Thanks!

  • So happy you found the article helpful.  Google+ keeps getting better and better.

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  • Thank you for sharing this Michael. I am still discovering the features of Google +. I hope that it keeps improving, and develop better apps for businesses.

  • Aren’t some of the features just a copy from facebook and twitter? Like cover photo, trending topics, switch between page and user. etc.. g+ is nothing unique!

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