I’ve been on Google+ for a couple weeks now, and I’m definitely a fan. Here’s a big list of 61 tips for, thoughts on, and suggestions for Google+. Be warned: This list is epic.
Oh, and you can find me on Google+ here.
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1. Circles are the big thing in Plus that everyone is googly-eyed (or Google-y eyed. Hah!) over. They’re pretty much just groups that you can put your “friends” into. The big problem with Facebook is that most of your “friends” probably aren’t friends. They’re acquaintances, coworkers, exes, family members, etc. With Circles, you can super easily divide all the people in your life into their appropriate categories. So you can put all family members in a “Family” circle, and then share things only with them or see only things that they’ve posted. Pretty slick.
2. Hangouts is another big feature that people are excited about. It’s video chat for a group of people. For example, one of my friends had a Hangouts chat with his whole family last week. Since members of my immediate family are spread out over Seattle, Salt Lake City, Houston, and Chicago, this kind of thing would make it possible for us to actually see each other all together every once in a while.
3. Sparks is yet another cool feature, though IMO not as cool as the previous two. Sparks are essentially custom news and blog feeds tailored toward your interests. For example, let’s say I’m into crocheting. (Side note: I can crochet a mean beanie.) You can set up a Spark for “crochet” or “crocheting.” You click in that spark and you’re shown recent things related to crocheting that you might be interested in. Below are some of my Sparks, followed by a photo of the Sparks feed for “linguistics”:
5. The things you share on Plus are called posts, not updates, and definitely not tweets. You know, like blog posts. Simple.
6. When writing a post, putting a word between asterisks will make the word bold. Example: *awesome*
7. Putting a word between underscores will make the word italicized. Example: _awesome_
8. Putting a word between hyphens (or dashes) will cross out (strikethrough) the word. Example:
9. Can you private message people on Google+? Yes’m. Just write a normal post and then instead of sharing it with everyone or with certain circles, just share it with one person (simply type in their name). You’ll also need to disable resharing. See the next tip.
10. To disable resharing of a post, you need to publish the post first. Then you’ll see a little gray circle with a triangle in it in the top right corner. A dropdown menu will appear, and then click “Disable reshare.”
11. And while we’ve got that little dropdown menu open, it’s obviously where you go if you want to edit, delete, or link to a post, or disable the comments on a post.
12. There’s another way to link to a post. Click on any Plus post’s timestamp (the time and/or date) to get a direct URL to that post. You can then link to that URL.
13. You’ll also see the little gray-circle-with-inverted-triangle in the top right corner of other people’s posts. Here’s what that dropdown menu looks like, and what the options are:
14. The public’s general reaction to Plus has been mostly very positive, unlike Google’s other forays into social media, namely Buzz and Wave. People are excited about Plus.
15. Google Plus is only available to individuals, not to businesses. Apparently some business pages that have been set up have been subsequently removed by Google. Of course, this will undoubtedly change in the future.
16. There are no ads on Plus… yet. Still, yay for no ads!
17. You can add people to more than one Circle. This is useful if, say, I have real-life friends that are into internet marketing, and I want to put them in both my Friends and Internet Marketing circles.
18. For a while there Google turned off invites, but it looks like they’re back on now. In the right column on your main Google+ home page, you’ll see a little invite box:
20. Do I think Plus is a serious Facebook contender? I think so. I’m currently on Plus more than Facebook (I never was a huge fan of Facebook, even though I’ve been on it since 2004 or 2005), and the overall experience is better. The design is cleaner and the functions/features more useful. As far as I’m concerned, Facebook is the Hotmail of social media, and Plus is, well, the Gmail of social media. Version 2.0 is just better.
21. Some say Plus is a Twitter killer. (Link)
22. Do I think Plus a Twitter killer? No, I don’t think so. They just seem to me to be too different. And people love Twitter. People… don’t really love Facebook. I’d love it if Plus were a Twitter and Facebook killer, though. I’d love to shut down my Twitter and Facebook accounts and only have one social media profile to deal with. One social network to rule them all.
23. Some people have started blogging on Plus; that is, they’ve posted whole blog posts. I think this is pretty neat. If you don’t want to write entirely new content for Plus (but why not? You could just write short 250-word blog posts), you could always pick a blog post from your archives that hasn’t seen the light of day for a while.
24. Others have shut down their blogs completely and just used Plus as their main blog. I don’t think this is a good idea because I’m always wary of having my content hosted by someone else (that’s why I don’t use Blogger or WordPress.com blogs), and Plus is no exception to that.
25. I saw that one person (don’t remember who, sorry) had HIS-DOMAIN.com/+ redirect to his Google Plus profile. That’s pretty cool. I’ve also seen that a couple people redirect their root domain name (HIS-DOMAIN.com in our example) to their Google Plus page.
26. You can chat in Google Plus. If you’re familiar with the Gmail chat client (affectionately known as G-chat), it’ll look very familiar. You can enable chat by clicking the “Chat” link at the bottom of the left sidebar.
27. And while we’re on the subject of chat, here’s something that’s pretty brilliant… You can enable chat only for certain Circles. So I could enable chat for my Family and Friends circles, but not my Internet Marketing or Acquaintances circles. Here’s what that looks like:
28. I like the layout of the photo feed. It makes great use of screen space:
29. I do wish that there were more settings for the photo feed. Like what if I only want to see photos from my family?
30. While you’re on someone’s profile page, click on their profile photo. If they have more than one profile photo, it will cycle through and show you the next one. Note: This one might be, uh, inaccurate. I have 2 profile photos and when I click on my current profile photo, it goes to the other one. Does it do that when you click on it, too, or is it only when I click my own?
31. You can mention people in your posts (and it will link to that person’s Plus profile) by adding either a plus sign or at symbol in front of their name.
32. If the big, long, ugly URL of your Google Plus profile is too unsightly for you, check out this special Google+ URL shortener. Google is reportedly working on their own, but this one works just fine in the mean time.
33. Google+ doesn’t have stupid, worthless things like Facebook’s Poking feature. I love that.
34. Looking for people on Plus? Check out the appropriately-named FindPeopleOnPlus.com.
35. Is it “Google+” or “Google Plus”? You’ll notice that I’ve used both here, and I’ve seen both in various places online. In the official Google stuff I’ve seen, it’s always “Google+”, but whatever. Same thing, right? I’ll let the Google+ marketing folk deal with that.
36. Shortcuts, hotkeys, and stuff (you’ll notice that some of these are the same as for Reader and Gmail):
- Space bar = Scroll down your stream
- Shift + Space bar = Scroll up your stream
- Q = Moves the page down or up so you can see your Chat peeps.
- Enter = Start a comment
- Tab, then Enter = Submit a comment
- J = Go down one post
- K = Go up one post
37. You can create various links on the right-side of your About page (there will be an “Add Links” or something similar button there if you haven’t added any yet):
38. The “View profile as” thing on your profile page is pretty sweet. It’s an easy way to test to make sure your privacy settings are just how you want them:
39. And speaking of privacy… You can set or change your privacy (and email) settings by clicking on the little sprocket thing in the top right corner:
40. I use the Socialize WordPress plugin to get the +1 button at the top of each blog post and in the box at the end of each blog post. I use the Sharebar WordPress plugin to get the +1 button in the little floating bar on the left side of the screen (which you might or might not see, depending on your screen resolution). Here’s the code I added in the plugin’s back-end to get the button to appear, though your mileage may vary:
42. Social gaming is coming to Google+, and apparently it’s going to be a big deal.
Requests: Things We Need to See
Let’s be honest here, the people at Google are pretty smart. They’ve said time and time again that Google+ is still in its early stages of development and that they’ll keep adding more in the future. Below are some things I’d love to see in Google+ sooner rather than later.
43. Google, make Plus fully open to the public already. Sheesh.
44. I’m super curious about the exact number of users Google Plus has. Some estimate the number at 10 million already.
45. Integration with YouTube. Plus already integrates nicely with Picasa, but really, who uses Picasa? Everyone uses YouTube. Although I’ll probably start using Picasa more now…
46. I’m looking forward to an official Google Plus blog from Google. Most of their other projects have official blogs, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see one for Plus.
47. Some sort of organization system for Sparks. Like being able to put Sparks into folders.
48. The ability to like or dislike things in your Sparks feeds (or give a thumb up or thumb down to or something like that). Then you could “teach” Sparks what kind of things you like and don’t like.
49. The ability to share via Facebook and Twitter.
50. Some people have said that they want to be able to import their Facebook friends. I have no desire to do this. The thing I love about Plus is that it’s a clean slate. It’s allowing us to start over entirely! If you can’t think of someone off the top of your head to search for and add on Plus, are they really that important to your life?
51. As far as I can tell, you can’t edit a link that you share like you can in Facebook. For example, if I share a link on Facebook, I can change the “title” of the link as well as the description. If this is doable in Plus and I’m just missing it, let me know.
52. Integration with Google Reader. I want to be able to +1 and post blog posts to Plus from Reader. There is this neat little workaround, but you still can’t directly Plus something. Incidentally, that workaround also apparently works for photos and stuff, too. Just drag photos into the post box.
53. Someone (you?) should start a blog all about Google Plus tips and news. There are successful Twitter and Facebook blogs along these lines, so why wouldn’t a Plus blog work? I’d do it, but 1) writing about Plus daily would be super boring, and 2) I’m swamped with other projects.
54. So you know how Google is the king of search? It makes it that much more odd that there isn’t a way to search Google+ yet.
55. Integration with other Google products like Docs and Translate.
56. While in your profile there’s a “+1’s” tab, it only shows what you’ve +1’d on the web. It doesn’t show what you’ve +1’d in Google+ itself.
57. It would be nice if all +1’s were compounded. For example, if I +1 a blog post on the blog itself, then share it as a link on Google+, and someone else +1’s it in Google+, the +1 count number on the blog doesn’t increase by 1. Does that make sense?
58. A “Save as draft” feature for posts. Like I said, some people are using it to blog, so it would be great for them.
59. And while we’re on the subject of blogging using Google+, maybe more formatting features (like bullet points or colored text) would be nice. Or maybe it would eliminate the beautiful simplicity that Plus currently offers.
60. This isn’t exactly a Google+ thing–more of an overall Google thing–but I’d like to change what’s in the new black Google Toolbar that’s on lots of Google’s properties. I never use Google Calendar, for example, so I’d like to be able to just remove it. This is the thing I’m talking about:
61. It’s obviously too late to change anything now, but the name of Google+ is annoying. When trying just now to search for “google+” on TechCrunch, it didn’t recognize the plus sign as anything significant. It just searched for Google. Annoying. Oh yeah, and the same thing happened when I searched in Chrome’s omnibox. Come on, Google!!?!
Phew. My verdict? I really like Google+. I think it’s a sweet bit of social magic from Google (finally). I can see it getting BIG, and I’m rooting for it. Please be active on it and love it and spread the word about it so I can quit Twitter and Facebook :) And again, you can connect with me on Google+ here.
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- What did I leave out or get wrong? :)
- Got any other Google Plus tips, suggestions, wishes, hopes, dreams, or hints?
- Are YOU on Plus? Are you excited about it?
- If you want a Google+ invite, leave a comment below and say so. I’ll send one to the email address you use in your comment.