Here are some things I’ve learned, if you’re a gmail user:
When you’re in your gmail account, look in the upper left corner and you’ll see either the Google+ button if you haven’t joined or the +yourname (mine is +Cindy). Click that and you’ll be on your + Home page. (see the list on the left sidebar?) This is where you start.
Click Find people and your email contacts will show... click on a person’s name and choose to put them in Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Following, or create a new circle. Then there’s a continue button at the bottom -- a lot of things to follow to choose from, you can choose some or not. Go to the bottom again to hit continue, and this is where you can put your photo and where you work, went/go to school, where you live... you can put what you want or don’t want. Then hit finish.
Now you’re back on your Home page, and there’s a lot of posts there already, because Google wants you to see something instead of nothing! You can share something right on that page in the “Share something new” little box (I don’t think it’s limited to any number of characters, but I haven’t tested that). I didn’t want to see all that stuff I hadn’t chosen to see, so if you click on the “What’s Hot on Google+” phrase, you can then go change how much, if any, of that you’ll see... just move the slider button you’ll find in the upper right beside your settings wheel. If you decide to change that later, use the Explore button (left sidebar).
When you click the Profile button (left sidebar), you’ll see how to edit your profile. Also, there’s a bar with the words: Posts (you’re there already), About, Photos (from your Picasa albums and maybe other places, I’m not sure), Videos (if you’ve uploaded any), and +1’s. If you’ve +1’d any page, it will show here.
Clicking the Circles button (left sidebar) shows the circles you’ve created and has ways to add more. Under that button is one called More, and hovering over that will show choices of Local (businesses near you), Games (I’m not familiar with), Hangouts (you can join into or start your own video chats), and Pages (you can create a new page). When you click one of those, your Circles button will change to that one and you can get it back by hovering and clicking on it again.
When you Share something, you always get to choose who you want to share with, either by circles or individually by the person’s email address. I sent one “share” to my own email address and could not even forward that to anyone -- because I had only “shared” it with myself.
Interesting blog article: How I Learned to Love Google+
You kinda have to go through these steps to see what it all means. I’m not familiar with everything, there’s just too much. But it will get easier as we use it more, so you may want to check it out!