“How to use Google+” in a nutshell

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Google+ incorporates functions from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but terms like “friend” and “follow” have a different meaning.

On Google+,  you “follow” or “friend” people when you “add” them into a “circle.” The circles are merely categories, and only you will ever know the name of the circle into which you add someone, although the person will be notified that you added them to a circle. Unless the person “adds” you to some circle of his or her own, he or she won’t see your posts. The circles are simply devices to use in writing different posts to different groups of people or in limiting the posts you look at to those from a certain circle of people.

The circles listed on the dropdown menu, which you will see when you go to add someone, are “Friends,” “Family,” “Acquaintances,” and “Following.” The last is for people you don’t know but whose posts you find interesting. You can make up your own circle names instead. I added Rail fans, Writers, and LGBT. You can put people in more than one circle.

If I send out a post as “public,” it will appear in the stream of anyone who has me in any circle of their own and it also can be seen by anyone who looks at my profile page. If I mark a post “Rail fans” it will appear only in the streams of people in my rail fan circle. As on Twitter or Facebook, because a post appears in someone’s stream doesn’t mean they’ll see it. They might get a ton of posts.

You can add a hashtag (#trains) so that your post will be in the stream for people looking at the hashtag subject. Hashtags work essentially as they do in Twitter, except I believe only one hashtag per post is allowed on Google+. If I #marilynmonroe in my post, the post will appear in the stream for people who search for #marilynmonroe. If I search #marilynmonroe, I’ll find posts so hashtagged. If I search “Marilyn Monroe,” no hashtag, I’ll also find posts about MM, likely as not different posts, there being the randomness to Google+ common to other social media.

Google+ has “communities” and “pages.” Joining a community allows you to post there. People who see your post may “add” you. I joined the community “Railroading North America” and connected with some rail fans. “Pages” are for organizations or businesses. I created a page for the blogzine Late Last Night Books.

A “+1” on Google+ is equivalent to a “like” on Facebook.

If you want to send a private message, put a plus sign in front of the recipient’s name.

The photo above appeared in my Google+ stream marked “Rdzg-Vsod’s photos.” Google+ has the photographic character of the many tumblr blogs I enjoy so much. What a great era to be a young photographer!

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