How Google Plus won me over and made me forget Facebook

Google Plus

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the primary “sacrifice” that I gave up for this past Lent was Facebook in its entirety. It was quite the ride, and I decided that I would give Google Plus another shot and hope to really explore and learn more about it.

 

Initial Reaction

When I first told people about giving up Facebook, they seemed surprised. The reactions I received were along the lines of “oh wow,” implying that the notion of daily life without Facebook was something difficult. But, to be honest, I actually felt guilty because I had really grown tired and annoyed at Facebook as a service in general. So, for me, I didn’t think it would be that hard. In a way, I had long since wanted to just outright quit Facebook, but it was so ubiquitous and ingrained in our daily lives, as others pointed out to me. However, my feed had grown clogged of people and items I just plain didn’t care to read about anymore. I had shifted some of these people into the Acquaintances category so that they no longer showed up on my main feed but, even so, I was just feeling… over it.

 

Facebook Drama
The straw that broke the camel’s back

That right there was from a friend who is in her 20s and, if you didn’t notice, the little icon next to that timestamp indicates that this was a public post. Meaning anyone in the world can see this at any time, including any prospective employers that are trying to find out what kind of person they may or may not be hiring. With items like that, I figured that Lent would be a good time to sever my ties to Facebook. In fact, I also heaped on Twitter, just because.

 

Google Plus

In my absence, I planned to explore Google Plus a bit more. I had been an early adopter of the new social networking site when it debuted last October but, like many others, I had all but abandoned it to return to the monolithic Facebook. Still, I thought Lent would be a good time to get into it and test the waters more than most originally had. I posted on Facebook informing my friends of my intentions and soon Lent began. (Sidenote: a woman in Chicago did this as well, but no news media ever contacted me!)

Things took off for me very quickly, and much faster than I imagined. A couple of friends from Facebook followed me along, not necessarily to also give up Facebook, but to follow my activity there. However, they quickly returned back to Facebook as my social interaction with them soon dissipated.

 

Google Plus - Profile page
A look at the (new) Google Plus profile page

Here we have the basic Google Plus layout. That right there is my profile page. To the left are the navigation buttons for getting to different parts of the social network. On the right is Google Chat, so that I can chat with friends in real-time. I can also start a Hangout (more on that in a bit). And, of course, there’s the Google Search bar, which will let me search Google Plus for interesting content.

So here’s the thing. I’m on Google Plus a few days into Lent. I’m finding the usual stuff I find interesting online and I’m sharing it on Google Plus but it’s basically an echo chamber, which is fine by me, but one of the actual reasons I didn’t just give up “social networking” as a whole was that I wanted to explore and familiarize myself with Google Plus and perhaps get to know new people. Google Plus actually made this quite easy for me, and I’ll tell you how.

One of the coolest things about Google Plus is its Circles. Google Circles are a means of sorting your friends by common interests. You might have a group of work friends, or friends that follow Politics, or friends that you play certain games with. You can group them into an appropriately named Circle and, when you post a status update or share content on Google Plus, you can easily state which Circles the content should be shared with. It’s a great way of separating certain content from groups of friends that may not be interested. For example, on Facebook, I basically had to create a second profile just for politics (“my political profile,” as I call it) because of the divisiveness of the 2008 campaign and its aftermath. With Circles, I don’t need to go to such lengths. I can create a Circle full of politically-minded friends and share stuff exclusively to them. I can share funny pics and videos to a “Humor” circle full of others doing the same thing. Gamers can unite in their own circle, and so forth. But how do you even get started with that? How do you meet new people to begin with? This is where Exploring “What’s Hot” comes in.

 

Google Plus - Explore
Google Plus – Explore

You will have your normal feed, where you see what your friends are doing and posting, just like you’re used to seeing on Facebook. But Google Plus also has a link on the left called “Explore” that is your key to moving forward. In clicking it, your feed changes to view the most popular content being shared on Google Plus (“What’s Hot”). Here, you can interact with people not in your Circles, as well as either +1 (Google Plus’s version of “Like”) their comment or posts. You can, of course, also add people you see to your own Circles. In most cases they will reciprocate (unlike how Facebook treats Friend Requests, adding someone to your Google Plus Circle does not mean you are automatically in theirs). There are even Twitter-like hashtags (see screenshot above) that you can click to see the most popular topics being talked about and join in on the discussion. Naturally, you can implement them in your own posts, too. All of this together is probably the best way to get yourself involved, as others will follow suit.

There is also another benefit to perusing the “What’s Hot” feed, and that involves the sharing of entire Circles. There are several “power-plussers” on Google Plus, who have connections (or, perhaps at this point, followers) numbering in the 6 or 7-digit range. They aren’t celebrities; they’re just normal people that stuck with Google Plus when it started and have built a following from the interesting content they share.

One of these people that I latched onto for informative posts right off the bat is Michelle Marie. Along with standard content being shared on a social network, she also shared many introductory-style posts about navigating, understanding, and excelling within the Google Plus environment (such as this one!). Some were personally written; some were reshared posts, but I found her to be a source I could trust to enlighten me about my new surroundings. She, along with other power-plussers, would occasionally share an entire circle of people they recommended. Often, these Circles already had names, such as “Humor,” so you knew what kind of content you were getting with them. When this happened, what I would do is place these suggested people in a Circle cleverly titled “Suggested,” which I used as a placeholder as I’d get to know them better. As time went on, my feed would now be populated with actual content from others. I could comment on or +1 their posts, and those that had added me back did the same. I would uncircle (i.e. unfriend) those whose content I did not care to see in my feed. On Google Plus, it’s not a big deal because there is so much content being shared, it just doesn’t matter.

 

Google Plus - Search bar
Easily search for interesting topics

I could also find new people based on any other topics of interest. In fact, Google makes that super easy, thanks to their search bar. I could search for any topic I wanted and find people discussing it that I could then add to a Circle about that theme. So, for example, if I was curious of people’s opinions on the antics of the ongoing 2012 Election, I could search for a buzzword, read what others have said, and add those whom I wanted to a “Politics” Circle. I could do the same with any other topic or subject matter.

Another thing I got in the habit of doing was to post an introductory message to those that added me to their Circle. When I received a notification that someone had added me to their Circle, I’d visit their profile and add them to a new Circle I made called “Introductions.” I’d then post something saying hello, with a greeting that referred them to my About Me, which said what I was interested in. In my introductory greeting, I’d also ask them to take a look at my Profile and let me know which common interests we had so that I could add them to those Circles as desired. By having placed them in a Introduction Cricle, I was able to go directly to that feed to see any replies.

 

Google Plus Circles
Editing Circles (button/link is hidden in More)

Now, let’s get back to getting to know those new people in my “Suggested” Circle. As I mentioned, I’d start seeing these new people’s posts in my normal feed. Also good to know is that just hovering over someone’s name in your feed will tell you which Circles they’re in already. Of course, you can add people to more than one circle as well. So let’s say someone I discovered and had in Suggestions regularly posts funny images. It would make sense to move them to my “Humor” circle. All I need to do is go to my Circles (currently a hidden button on the left; click More). As shown in the image above, I have selected my “Suggested” Circle. Once selected, I can drag people from that Circle into more specific circles.

As I mentioned, the few Facebook friends that were on Google Plus the first few days and had obviously abandoned Google Plus to return to Facebook did not so much bother me. I did want to meet new people. And a post by Michelle Marie explained this transition so eloquently, I saved it way back then specifically to refer back to it for this article that I thought I might eventually write. At only a few paragraphs, it’s really worth a read and does an excellent job of explaining what’s taking place.

“Let’s assume for a moment that you live in Chicago and all your Facebook friends and family also live in Chicago. You’re bored, so bored you want a change. An idea comes to mind to move to Miami… you pack up all your belongings and head to Florida. Before you’re completely settled in you realize that you’re a little out of your element. You don’t quite fit in yet, things may seem a little alien to you. Naturally you get a little homesick. Not homesick from Chicago but homesick being away from your comfort zone and interacting with people you trust and care for. So you call your friends and family explaining how wonderful Miami seems and try talking them into making the move also. But they refrain, not because they don’t believe you that Miami’s a nice place to live, but because they don’t have strong enough reasons to move… Solution? Get out of your Miami beachfront condo and meet new people! Make new experiences in a brand new environment. Mingle! Talk to a to people on the beach, if you’re an artist walk into an art gallery and make friends with people who share your love for art. Find people who have the same interests as you and get to know them. It won’t take long for you to realize you don’t need your Chicago friends and family to have a good time in Miami. Actually, after a while you’ll be glad they are there and you are somewhere different since you’re breaking free has opened up a whole new world for you.”

Another great feature of Google Plus that I discovered is that G+ allows entire Circles to be shared. So, as I got started and browsed the Explore section, I noticed someone might post “If you like humor, add this Circle for funny stuff!” or something similar, followed by a Circle of several hundred people. Google Plus would allow me to add all of them to my own Circles as well (or create a new Circle from them), and they would subsequently appear in my feed. Also, they would receive notifications of me adding them, and many reciprocated.

 

Google Plus +1 Tab
Keep track of your +1s

I also found a few great browser extensions for Google Plus, which kept me in the loop. There was the Plus One button, which allowed me to +1 any page I was visiting (whether or not it even has its own +1 button on the page). I could either simply click the icon to add it to my +1 tab. As mentioned earlier, +1 is Google Plus’ version of the “Like” button. But, if you’ve used a Like button extensively with Facebook in the past, you probably won’t recall all the pages, articles, and so on for which you once hit the little button or text link. Google Plus surpasses Facebook in this area as well, creating a tab on your profile page where you can browse through all your past +1s. It’s great because it can also serve as a bookmarking feature, or even a “read it later” feature. Maybe you like an article but don’t want to post/share it (or do, but at a later time). Just +1 it and it appears in your +1 tab for later retrieval!

Another awesome extension for sharing and cataloging (not to mention for any page that might not have a +1 button on the page). Another great one is Google Plus Notifications, which easily alert me to any +1s, comments, or new connections right in my browser. It even lets me comment back or +1 content right from a non-intrusive pop-up widget without having to go directly to Google Plus from wherever I already am in my browser. Of course, I need only click an easily displayed link should I wish to do just that instead.

 

Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts – Live video chats!

By the end of my first or second week, I had taken place in a Google Hangout, which is essentially a chat room, where everyone is on webcam. You can type, all old-school like the chat rooms of yesteryear, but you can also see each other and actually talk to each other as well. My girlfriend thought it a bit weird that I was hanging out with and conversing with people I didn’t even know. To me, it reminded me of being back in college and meeting new people at social events like parties. You may find some odd people, some who you don’t even care for, but you also just might end up making a new friend along the way! On Facebook, we tend to isolate ourselves among those we already know. Sure, there are people that will accept any friend request despite the level of friendship between the person, and that’s certainly a way to discover new people but, on Google Plus, it operates in a different and much more advanced manner.

Another big difference I noticed is the level of civility. Facebook is famed for its lack thereof, with sites posting “Failbook” images showing public feuds (such as the image I posted above) or horrific abuses of the English language . Not so on Google Plus. I know this is a sweeping generalization, but nearly everyone I ever saw post — whether in my own feed, or in Explore — did so using actual proper English. No instances of “fml,” “smh,” or any other acronym that makes me cringe. No “text-speak.” And — this is the best part — the discourse was so professional and civil, it shocked me. When discussing politics, those that had alternative viewpoints did not skewer others for the sin of a different opinion, but showed and demonstrated respect in stating theirs while not insulting the others. I can state from personal experience that to not be the case on Facebook (hence the two separate profiles).

This even went beyond politics to anything at all, really. I often took part in healthy and lively discussions on topics in which participants had differing opinions, as opposed to arguments where somehow an opposing viewpoint was a personal affront to the individuals involved. One individual that had altogether quit Facebook and migrated exclusively to Google Plus made note of it in his Facebook cover photo!

 

Linking Google Plus to Facebook/Twitter

Once Lent ended, I was “free” to return to Facebook (and Twitter) full-force. But I found that I didn’t really have any desire to do so, as I was quite content with Google Plus. In fact, I preferred it, and I like the connections I’ve made over there, as well as discovering new people all the time.

 

Google Plus content on Facebook
Content posted to Facebook via Google Plus

Still, I wanted to keep in touch with my friends there, and so I looked into a means of being able to post content on Google Plus but still have it post from there to Facebook (and/or Twitter). I tested out several methods and services, but I found the best results with a personal service to sync Google Plus to your Facebook/Twitter, as created by Rob McGee. Once I connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts to Google Plus via his service, I was able to post content on Google Plus and, just by sharing it with Rob McGee, it would automatically post it to my Facebook and Twitter as well. Sure, there are some caveats; while general status updates and link-sharing works just fine, posting images or video does not. To get over that, I simply include the URL to the video or image in my post, which solves it. Also, to ensure that content (including long URLs) is under the 140-character Twitter limit, I just use Google’s URL-shortening service, Goo.gl. I even have a Goo.gl browser extension, as well, which lets me right-click and create a shortened Goo.gl URL for the page I am currently on.

 

Conclusion

So that’s that. I originally did not mean for this to be so long, comprehensive, and a guided tour with images. However, as I got to writing about all the awesome features of Google Plus that I came to love and embrace over the past two months or so, I thought it appropriate to showcase and highlight them for anyone else that might be interested in the Google Plus experience. Also, while writing this, Google Plus updated its layout, so all my old screenshots had to be re-taken and a lot of this copy updated — hence the delay in posting this.

Since Lent has ended, I set up the sync service I mentioned above and changed my Facebook profile photo to the Google Plus icon. I also changed my cover photo to a modified version of the one mentioned earlier in this article (more friendly!) and turned on email notifications for likes, comments, and messages. Now, I need only post content on Google Plus, making sure to share it with Rob McGee, and it will also post on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Should anyone actually interact with me (like, comment, message) on Facebook, I will be notified. And just like that, no longer any real need to log in and browse Facebook anymore (unless notified)!

I realize that Facebook is still a behemoth, one that can be vital in the success of business via social marketing, and that’s fine. I am not “swearing off” Facebook. I just no longer need to think about it as a part of my daily life. I’ll log in when notified, and maybe to catch up with old friends here and there but, going forward, my primary residence happily remains Google Plus.


As mentioned in a previous blog post, the primary “sacrifice” that I gave up for this past Lent was Facebook in its entirety. It was quite the ride, and I decided that I would give Google Plus another shot and hope to really explore and learn more about it.

 

Initial Reaction

When I first told people about giving up Facebook, they seemed surprised. The reactions I received were along the lines of “oh wow,” implying that the notion of daily life without Facebook was something difficult. But, to be honest, I actually felt guilty because I had really grown tired and annoyed at Facebook as a service in general. So, for me, I didn’t think it would be that hard. In a way, I had long since wanted to just outright quit Facebook, but it was so ubiquitous and ingrained in our daily lives, as others pointed out to me. However, my feed had grown clogged of people and items I just plain didn’t care to read about anymore. I had shifted some of these people into the Acquaintances category so that they no longer showed up on my main feed but, even so, I was just feeling… over it.

 

Facebook Drama
The straw that broke the camel’s back

That right there was from a friend who is in her 20s and, if you didn’t notice, the little icon next to that timestamp indicates that this was a public post. Meaning anyone in the world can see this at any time, including any prospective employers that are trying to find out what kind of person they may or may not be hiring. With items like that, I figured that Lent would be a good time to sever my ties to Facebook. In fact, I also heaped on Twitter, just because.

 

Google Plus

In my absence, I planned to explore Google Plus a bit more. I had been an early adopter of the new social networking site when it debuted last October but, like many others, I had all but abandoned it to return to the monolithic Facebook. Still, I thought Lent would be a good time to get into it and test the waters more than most originally had. I posted on Facebook informing my friends of my intentions and soon Lent began. (Sidenote: a woman in Chicago did this as well, but no news media ever contacted me!)

Things took off for me very quickly, and much faster than I imagined. A couple of friends from Facebook followed me along, not necessarily to also give up Facebook, but to follow my activity there. However, they quickly returned back to Facebook as my social interaction with them soon dissipated.

 

Google Plus - Profile page
A look at the (new) Google Plus profile page

Here we have the basic Google Plus layout. That right there is my profile page. To the left are the navigation buttons for getting to different parts of the social network. On the right is Google Chat, so that I can chat with friends in real-time. I can also start a Hangout (more on that in a bit). And, of course, there’s the Google Search bar, which will let me search Google Plus for interesting content.

So here’s the thing. I’m on Google Plus a few days into Lent. I’m finding the usual stuff I find interesting online and I’m sharing it on Google Plus but it’s basically an echo chamber, which is fine by me, but one of the actual reasons I didn’t just give up “social networking” as a whole was that I wanted to explore and familiarize myself with Google Plus and perhaps get to know new people. Google Plus actually made this quite easy for me, and I’ll tell you how.

One of the coolest things about Google Plus is its Circles. Google Circles are a means of sorting your friends by common interests. You might have a group of work friends, or friends that follow Politics, or friends that you play certain games with. You can group them into an appropriately named Circle and, when you post a status update or share content on Google Plus, you can easily state which Circles the content should be shared with. It’s a great way of separating certain content from groups of friends that may not be interested. For example, on Facebook, I basically had to create a second profile just for politics (“my political profile,” as I call it) because of the divisiveness of the 2008 campaign and its aftermath. With Circles, I don’t need to go to such lengths. I can create a Circle full of politically-minded friends and share stuff exclusively to them. I can share funny pics and videos to a “Humor” circle full of others doing the same thing. Gamers can unite in their own circle, and so forth. But how do you even get started with that? How do you meet new people to begin with? This is where Exploring “What’s Hot” comes in.

 

Google Plus - Explore
Google Plus – Explore

You will have your normal feed, where you see what your friends are doing and posting, just like you’re used to seeing on Facebook. But Google Plus also has a link on the left called “Explore” that is your key to moving forward. In clicking it, your feed changes to view the most popular content being shared on Google Plus (“What’s Hot”). Here, you can interact with people not in your Circles, as well as either +1 (Google Plus’s version of “Like”) their comment or posts. You can, of course, also add people you see to your own Circles. In most cases they will reciprocate (unlike how Facebook treats Friend Requests, adding someone to your Google Plus Circle does not mean you are automatically in theirs). There are even Twitter-like hashtags (see screenshot above) that you can click to see the most popular topics being talked about and join in on the discussion. Naturally, you can implement them in your own posts, too. All of this together is probably the best way to get yourself involved, as others will follow suit.

There is also another benefit to perusing the “What’s Hot” feed, and that involves the sharing of entire Circles. There are several “power-plussers” on Google Plus, who have connections (or, perhaps at this point, followers) numbering in the 6 or 7-digit range. They aren’t celebrities; they’re just normal people that stuck with Google Plus when it started and have built a following from the interesting content they share.

One of these people that I latched onto for informative posts right off the bat is Michelle Marie. Along with standard content being shared on a social network, she also shared many introductory-style posts about navigating, understanding, and excelling within the Google Plus environment (such as this one!). Some were personally written; some were reshared posts, but I found her to be a source I could trust to enlighten me about my new surroundings. She, along with other power-plussers, would occasionally share an entire circle of people they recommended. Often, these Circles already had names, such as “Humor,” so you knew what kind of content you were getting with them. When this happened, what I would do is place these suggested people in a Circle cleverly titled “Suggested,” which I used as a placeholder as I’d get to know them better. As time went on, my feed would now be populated with actual content from others. I could comment on or +1 their posts, and those that had added me back did the same. I would uncircle (i.e. unfriend) those whose content I did not care to see in my feed. On Google Plus, it’s not a big deal because there is so much content being shared, it just doesn’t matter.

 

Google Plus - Search bar
Easily search for interesting topics

I could also find new people based on any other topics of interest. In fact, Google makes that super easy, thanks to their search bar. I could search for any topic I wanted and find people discussing it that I could then add to a Circle about that theme. So, for example, if I was curious of people’s opinions on the antics of the ongoing 2012 Election, I could search for a buzzword, read what others have said, and add those whom I wanted to a “Politics” Circle. I could do the same with any other topic or subject matter.

Another thing I got in the habit of doing was to post an introductory message to those that added me to their Circle. When I received a notification that someone had added me to their Circle, I’d visit their profile and add them to a new Circle I made called “Introductions.” I’d then post something saying hello, with a greeting that referred them to my About Me, which said what I was interested in. In my introductory greeting, I’d also ask them to take a look at my Profile and let me know which common interests we had so that I could add them to those Circles as desired. By having placed them in a Introduction Cricle, I was able to go directly to that feed to see any replies.

 

Google Plus Circles
Editing Circles (button/link is hidden in More)

Now, let’s get back to getting to know those new people in my “Suggested” Circle. As I mentioned, I’d start seeing these new people’s posts in my normal feed. Also good to know is that just hovering over someone’s name in your feed will tell you which Circles they’re in already. Of course, you can add people to more than one circle as well. So let’s say someone I discovered and had in Suggestions regularly posts funny images. It would make sense to move them to my “Humor” circle. All I need to do is go to my Circles (currently a hidden button on the left; click More). As shown in the image above, I have selected my “Suggested” Circle. Once selected, I can drag people from that Circle into more specific circles.

As I mentioned, the few Facebook friends that were on Google Plus the first few days and had obviously abandoned Google Plus to return to Facebook did not so much bother me. I did want to meet new people. And a post by Michelle Marie explained this transition so eloquently, I saved it way back then specifically to refer back to it for this article that I thought I might eventually write. At only a few paragraphs, it’s really worth a read and does an excellent job of explaining what’s taking place.

“Let’s assume for a moment that you live in Chicago and all your Facebook friends and family also live in Chicago. You’re bored, so bored you want a change. An idea comes to mind to move to Miami… you pack up all your belongings and head to Florida. Before you’re completely settled in you realize that you’re a little out of your element. You don’t quite fit in yet, things may seem a little alien to you. Naturally you get a little homesick. Not homesick from Chicago but homesick being away from your comfort zone and interacting with people you trust and care for. So you call your friends and family explaining how wonderful Miami seems and try talking them into making the move also. But they refrain, not because they don’t believe you that Miami’s a nice place to live, but because they don’t have strong enough reasons to move… Solution? Get out of your Miami beachfront condo and meet new people! Make new experiences in a brand new environment. Mingle! Talk to a to people on the beach, if you’re an artist walk into an art gallery and make friends with people who share your love for art. Find people who have the same interests as you and get to know them. It won’t take long for you to realize you don’t need your Chicago friends and family to have a good time in Miami. Actually, after a while you’ll be glad they are there and you are somewhere different since you’re breaking free has opened up a whole new world for you.”

Another great feature of Google Plus that I discovered is that G+ allows entire Circles to be shared. So, as I got started and browsed the Explore section, I noticed someone might post “If you like humor, add this Circle for funny stuff!” or something similar, followed by a Circle of several hundred people. Google Plus would allow me to add all of them to my own Circles as well (or create a new Circle from them), and they would subsequently appear in my feed. Also, they would receive notifications of me adding them, and many reciprocated.

 

Google Plus +1 Tab
Keep track of your +1s

I also found a few great browser extensions for Google Plus, which kept me in the loop. There was the Plus One button, which allowed me to +1 any page I was visiting (whether or not it even has its own +1 button on the page). I could either simply click the icon to add it to my +1 tab. As mentioned earlier, +1 is Google Plus’ version of the “Like” button. But, if you’ve used a Like button extensively with Facebook in the past, you probably won’t recall all the pages, articles, and so on for which you once hit the little button or text link. Google Plus surpasses Facebook in this area as well, creating a tab on your profile page where you can browse through all your past +1s. It’s great because it can also serve as a bookmarking feature, or even a “read it later” feature. Maybe you like an article but don’t want to post/share it (or do, but at a later time). Just +1 it and it appears in your +1 tab for later retrieval!

Another awesome extension for sharing and cataloging (not to mention for any page that might not have a +1 button on the page). Another great one is Google Plus Notifications, which easily alert me to any +1s, comments, or new connections right in my browser. It even lets me comment back or +1 content right from a non-intrusive pop-up widget without having to go directly to Google Plus from wherever I already am in my browser. Of course, I need only click an easily displayed link should I wish to do just that instead.

 

Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts – Live video chats!

By the end of my first or second week, I had taken place in a Google Hangout, which is essentially a chat room, where everyone is on webcam. You can type, all old-school like the chat rooms of yesteryear, but you can also see each other and actually talk to each other as well. My girlfriend thought it a bit weird that I was hanging out with and conversing with people I didn’t even know. To me, it reminded me of being back in college and meeting new people at social events like parties. You may find some odd people, some who you don’t even care for, but you also just might end up making a new friend along the way! On Facebook, we tend to isolate ourselves among those we already know. Sure, there are people that will accept any friend request despite the level of friendship between the person, and that’s certainly a way to discover new people but, on Google Plus, it operates in a different and much more advanced manner.

Another big difference I noticed is the level of civility. Facebook is famed for its lack thereof, with sites posting “Failbook” images showing public feuds (such as the image I posted above) or horrific abuses of the English language . Not so on Google Plus. I know this is a sweeping generalization, but nearly everyone I ever saw post — whether in my own feed, or in Explore — did so using actual proper English. No instances of “fml,” “smh,” or any other acronym that makes me cringe. No “text-speak.” And — this is the best part — the discourse was so professional and civil, it shocked me. When discussing politics, those that had alternative viewpoints did not skewer others for the sin of a different opinion, but showed and demonstrated respect in stating theirs while not insulting the others. I can state from personal experience that to not be the case on Facebook (hence the two separate profiles).

This even went beyond politics to anything at all, really. I often took part in healthy and lively discussions on topics in which participants had differing opinions, as opposed to arguments where somehow an opposing viewpoint was a personal affront to the individuals involved. One individual that had altogether quit Facebook and migrated exclusively to Google Plus made note of it in his Facebook cover photo!

 

Linking Google Plus to Facebook/Twitter

Once Lent ended, I was “free” to return to Facebook (and Twitter) full-force. But I found that I didn’t really have any desire to do so, as I was quite content with Google Plus. In fact, I preferred it, and I like the connections I’ve made over there, as well as discovering new people all the time.

 

Google Plus content on Facebook
Content posted to Facebook via Google Plus

Still, I wanted to keep in touch with my friends there, and so I looked into a means of being able to post content on Google Plus but still have it post from there to Facebook (and/or Twitter). I tested out several methods and services, but I found the best results with a personal service to sync Google Plus to your Facebook/Twitter, as created by Rob McGee. Once I connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts to Google Plus via his service, I was able to post content on Google Plus and, just by sharing it with Rob McGee, it would automatically post it to my Facebook and Twitter as well. Sure, there are some caveats; while general status updates and link-sharing works just fine, posting images or video does not. To get over that, I simply include the URL to the video or image in my post, which solves it. Also, to ensure that content (including long URLs) is under the 140-character Twitter limit, I just use Google’s URL-shortening service, Goo.gl. I even have a Goo.gl browser extension, as well, which lets me right-click and create a shortened Goo.gl URL for the page I am currently on.

 

Conclusion

So that’s that. I originally did not mean for this to be so long, comprehensive, and a guided tour with images. However, as I got to writing about all the awesome features of Google Plus that I came to love and embrace over the past two months or so, I thought it appropriate to showcase and highlight them for anyone else that might be interested in the Google Plus experience. Also, while writing this, Google Plus updated its layout, so all my old screenshots had to be re-taken and a lot of this copy updated — hence the delay in posting this.

Since Lent has ended, I set up the sync service I mentioned above and changed my Facebook profile photo to the Google Plus icon. I also changed my cover photo to a modified version of the one mentioned earlier in this article (more friendly!) and turned on email notifications for likes, comments, and messages. Now, I need only post content on Google Plus, making sure to share it with Rob McGee, and it will also post on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Should anyone actually interact with me (like, comment, message) on Facebook, I will be notified. And just like that, no longer any real need to log in and browse Facebook anymore (unless notified)!

I realize that Facebook is still a behemoth, one that can be vital in the success of business via social marketing, and that’s fine. I am not “swearing off” Facebook. I just no longer need to think about it as a part of my daily life. I’ll log in when notified, and maybe to catch up with old friends here and there but, going forward, my primary residence happily remains Google Plus.


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About the author

Jason L. Hubsch

Jason L. Hubsch

I love music, video games, comic books, pro wrestling, politics, and God -- and not necessarily in that order! If you like any of these, chances are we'll get along.

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