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Google+ is gaining ground very quickly in social media circles (pardon the pun!) and with it, the knowledge of how to use it is growing quickly too. But what about those who have just joined? What about those who will be joining in the coming weeks as the service comes out of beta and in to the big wide world? Fear not, this helpful little guide will get you up and running in no time at all and even if you are an experienced user already, you might just find something in here that improves your experience.
If you want to mention your friends in status updates and tag them in your posts just type the ‘+’ or ‘@’ signs and then start typing the friends name. The drop down list will then allow you to select a friend to highlight.
Drag & Drop photos, videos and links in to your status
You don’t have to hand type links or locations in your status, you can simply copy and paste, but best of all, you can also simply drag links, photos or videos directly in to your status box.
Filter your friends per post
This is a clever little addition to G+ and allows you to decide which circles of your friends see the post. Generally speaking, if you see a green box it will be public, where as blue will be restricted to only those in a particular circle. You can also mix and match allowing you to put more than one circle in your stream post.
Add sparks for up to date news.
This is another very easy feature to use, even if it does need a bit more work from google. Think of this as an RSS reader meets your Facebook timeline. It doesn’t include information from other people, but instead pulls in related news stories for you from “reputable” sources. This works on a very simplistic set of parameters, so if you enter “F1” you’ll get a different set of stories if you enter “Formula One” (some of which will duplicate. If you want to save any of these as sparks, simply hit the “Add Interest” button after you search and they will be added to your sparks on the right hand side on your welcome bar.
This area has hardly been mentioned, yet provides an excellent way of two chatting or even video conferencing within Google+. The reason it hasn’t been mentioned much is because if you have ever used Gmail chat, it’s not all that much different in setup. The cool thing here however is to be able to multi chat with many people, just like you do on Facebook. You can also bring the chat window outside of your browser should you wish and if you click Actions on the menu you can “go off the record” – handy for those conversations with News of the World journalists...
Initially, tagging yourself and friends doesn’t appear to be intuitive in Google+, but don’t worry this isn’t a missing feature as you may think from browsing photos in your photo tab. You can’t tag them when in this section, but just click on any photograph to bring it in to the main window full screen and not only can you tag yourself but you can add captions and of course leave snarky comments too.
A few easy ways to display words is to surround them in formats such as *word* will bold the text, -word- will strikethrough it and _word_ will put it in italics.
Testing without it showing
If you would like to test things in your status box, such as potential new parameters for formatting text or to see how things would look, simply create a circle called “Test” and don’t place anyone in it. Then when you want to test in your status, simply select the circle “test” from your list and ensure you don’t have the green boxed public box showing. This will now show only on your stream and no one elses. You can simply delete the test post after!
Be creative with your About Page
Like Facebook, you can be a bit creative with your G+ about page and post up funky, ordered images to make it look great like Colin has below.
This is critical if you don’t want posts to keep popping back up to the top of your stream. Google thinks this is a good idea because as new people comment on your post, it then gets put back to the top of your stream, but notifications also work for this purpose. So instead, just click on the drop down arrow and select “Mute this post”. This will stop it returning to the top and you will never see it again, unless you want to of course...
This isn't the definitive list of top tips, there are plenty more out there and yet more still to be found, but this top ten will get you up and running on a basic account with a little creativity on Google+