With Google+ starting to open to the general public, I bring you 10 tips that will make your life easier if you are starting out on the new social network.
Although Google+ will probably seem easy for techies to understand, some of the features are more advanced. It's actually surprising how much you can do, and how many handy little shortcuts there are.
Nobody knows if Google+ is going to replace Facebook in the long run, but if you want to start getting the best out of it, you have to learn some of its best features. This handy list of tips can help you do that.
1. Change the text format in your updates
Make your Google+ status updates stand out by using these simple formatting tips. You can bold, italicize or put a strike through your text.
2. Using Sparks
Sparks is a nifty feature that helps you follow your interests. Like-minded people use Sparks to share links or discuss what they're passionate about, from movies to comic books and social media to pizza.
3. Drag and drop photo content
Google+ makes it super easy to share photos and videos in your stream. All you have to do is drag and drop the media into the sharing window and post away.
4. Mention people Twitter style
Google+ copied Twitter's wildly popular "@ reply" feature. Simply put "@" before someone's name to link to him or her in your status.
5. Send direct messages to multiple users
This is a little counter-intuitive, but Google+ allows you to send messages directly to one user. You do this by posting a message only one person can see. While it seems jarringly different to Twitter and Facebook, it's neat because you can easily send a direct message to three or four people—something that's hard to do on Twitter.
6. Link to updates
A "permalink" is a URL that points to a specific Google+ update instead of just the homepage. This is useful when you want to link to someone's update.
7. Manage your privacy
Google+ is taking on Facebook in one crucial area: privacy. Google+ is very transparent about who sees each status update. Highlighting "limited" beside each status update shows who sees the update, making it very easy to manage your privacy.
8. Keyboard shortcuts
Like most of Google's services, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts you can use to speed up your Google+ usage.
9. Mute notifications
When you comment or +1 a status update on Google+, you receive a notification any time there is more activity on that status update. Since this can lead to a lot of annoying notifications, Google+ allows you to easily mute them.
10. See how your profile looks to others
Again, Google+ shows its concern for your privacy by allowing you to see not only how your profile looks to an outsider, but to a specific person. You can determine what a specific user can and cannot see on your profile with this easy checker.
Tommy Collison is an intern at Simply Zesty, where this article originally ran. Follow him on Twitter @trusttommy.