Google Plus was launched in late June 2011 as a new social media and networking product from search giant Google.

Offering a similar networking opportunity to many other “general” personal and professional networking site, users with an active e-mail address can join for free, post updates (which can be public or restricted access), add pics and videos, link to other profiles and websites, and link up with other users.

Users can link to others by adding them to a user-defined “Circle”. This feature doesn’t require those you add to grant permission to you, and by doing so users can view updates, limited information (as defined by those you add).

Users can post status updates via their Google+ page (although as of February 2012 the API is not available to sites like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck etc and so users must be logged into Google Plus to add updates), add photos and videos which other users can view and download, and view members in their contacts “circles”.

Google+ also integrates with other Google products, so Gmail users can add users via their Gmail account and vice-versa. Android phone owners can also download the Google+ android app which offers the requisite synchronisation features and a standalone “messenger”.

Google also offers business pages to corporations, sole traders etc so that their products and services can be promoted for free.