10 Tips for Google Plus Newbies

10 Tips for Google Plus Newbies

WITH more and more people finding their way into the Google Plus network overnight as the invite flood gates were opened yet again, “circles” and “sparks” are now being set up in earnest and people’s “streams” are starting to flow with targeted content.

As a Google Plus newbie, you’ve just set up your profile with any number of fantabulous facts and witty one-liners, but where to from here?

There’s all sorts of reviews appearing coming from bloggers and journalists who have had the best part of the last week to get their hands dirty on the inside.

These articles give you a good run down on what “Plus” is all about, but how about some good practical tips?

Here’s my selection of ten or so cracking good tips to get you started:

Google + profile page

1. Get your profile privacy settings all sorted

wrote a blog post on this very subject earlier this week and I think it’s one that everyone will want to check out early on.

2. Send private, or “direct” messages

There’s no specific feature built into Google Plus to allow you to send what we Tweeters know as “Direct Messages”. Sending private messages to on specific person, however, is dead simple to do.

All you need to do is start creating a post in your stream and make sure that the name of the only person you want to receive the message is listed where you would normally specify “Public” or specific “circle” recipients.

3. Secure your Google Plus short URL

Rip along to http://gplus.to and fill out a couple of details to secure your very own Google Plus short URL. Basically, you’ll be able to turn this:

  • https://plus.google.com/100159643379877461280/ into something more like this:
  • http://gplus.to/masey

4. Create an “Instapaper” style “Read Later” circle

Create an 'Instapaper' style 'Read Later' circle

We all have articles and web pages we come across during the day that we’d love to sit and read but don’t have the time when they cross our paths. Specific bookmarking services launched to help with this problem, like the popular “Instapaper” can now be effectively replicated in Google Plus simply by setting up a “Read Later” circle which you add ONLY YOURSELF to.

Next time you come across a page you’d like to look at later, share it with your “Read Later” circle, then check out your “Read Later” stream later on when it’s more convenient.

Cheers to @rwashton for pointing this one out for me.

5. Learn Google’s text formatting shortcuts

Add some personality and visual appeal to your posts by adding simple formatting elements like bolding, italics etc. By using some simple text shortcuts this ends up being super easy to do:

  • _italic text_ → italic text
  • *bold text* → bold text
  • -strikethrough text- → strikethrough text
  • Combined _*italic bold*_ → italic bold text
  • **cough** → *cough*

Note: This does not work in instances like [-strikethrough-] {*bold*} (_italic_)

6. Prevent commenting on a post

Prevent commenting on a post

For whatever reason you want to post a link to a page and don’t want anyone to be able to comment on the post? No problem. Complete the post and submit it to your chosen “circles”.

As soon as you do, you’ll notice a small triangle pointing down inside a circle at the top right of the post. Click it and select “Disable Comments”.

You can also edit and delete the post from here, as well as prevent sharing.

7. Work out exactly who a stream post has been shared with

Work out exactly who a stream post has been shared with

Scenario: You’ve just noticed a funny post appear in your stream that you’d love to make a comment on. Your comment will be hilarious and witty to those who “were there and would understand”, but may be construed as possibly a little offensive by anybody else. How do you know who your comment is going to be seen by before you make a potential mistake?

At the top of each post to the right of the time stamp you’ll notice the word “Public” or “Limited”. If the word “Public” is listed, then the post can be seen by ALL of the Web and, in turn, so would anything you leave as a comment.

If the word “Limited” is listed, usually this means you are part of a circle(s) that the content has been shared with. If you click on the word “Limited”, you’ll get a pop-up featuring thumbnail profile pics of who can see the post and, in turn, who will be able to see your comment.

8. Use the space bar to help navigate your streams

This is definitely one of my favourites. All you need to do to scroll through a stream page by page, is just hit the space bar. Simple and a nice little usability touch.

9. Get to know your colours

This one is a simple tip that some of you may have already worked out, but for others it’s a good one to learn as it may help prevent you from making a mistake somewhere along the line.

When your posts are designated as “Public” (represented by a green button) before you submit them, it means anyone out there on the Interwebs will be able to see what you post, even if you don’t have them added to any of your circles.

Get to know your colours

If you only intend to share your post with certain “circles” or individuals, their labels will be blue.

Therefore, remember these simple colour codes:


10. Mention (or tag) friends in your posts

In a similar way to the way you can “mention” (or tag) specific people in Facebook posts, you can “mention” people who are in any of your “circles” in Google Plus posts by adding the “@” or “+” symbols before their names.

For example, “+John Smith shared this with me and I wanted to share it with you all.”

As soon as you hit the “+” or “@” keys and start typing a name, a nifty auto-select list should appear to help you out.

 Don’t forget to “+1” this post for me and make sure you share this with all your Google Plus newbie pals!×

UPDATE:  Why use Google+?

It seems one of the early struggles for everyone so far has been trying to convince Facebook fanatics why they should even flirt with Google+. I found this comment left in a discussion thread the other day by a “Chris Withers”.

It pretty much sums up, and nails the “allure” (to use his words) of the “new kid on the block.”

“I think it does everything Facebook does, but with enough borrowed from Twitter to keep things interesting.

I don’t use Facebook much, because a very high percentage of the people I follow on there have nothing interesting to say. They might be family, or good friends offline, but throw them into social media and suddenly they’re gibbering idiots. Twitter, on the other hand, is all about what interests me. I know very few people on Twitter personally (the occasional tweetup aside), but I check it religiously because I’ve selected people to follow that constantly interest me. The flaw with Twitter is that you can’t please everybody. Someone might follow me on a Canucks game day and then unfollow me when I start RTing dirty jokes the next day.

Now there’s G+. Once it opens up I’ll be able to add friends and family, Canucks bloggers, Whitecaps fans, tech enthusiasts, atheists: people from all the circles who interest me. I won’t need to worry about boring people, because I won’t be spamming my family with hockey or soccer tweets on game day, I don’t need to worry about my 10 year old cousin seeing inappropriate jokes, and I won’t be sending pics of Sunday dinner out to non-family members.

It’s similar to Facebook, and similar to Twitter, but I can keep things segregated. That’s the allure I see.”


  1. Google + is indeed far more better that Facebook when it comes to security and privacy issues. Great post!

  2. Gizmos says:

    I’m starting to love Google +

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