Google Plus (Google+) is a late entrant into the social media universe and it recently turned 5. Many have written off Google+ as one of the failures when it comes to social media engagement. However it still boasts of several millions of daily users and still is a vibrant community. I think that despite the lack users and recognition, it is one of the services that is designed quite well and is quite easy to use.
There are several features of Google+ that are worth mentioning. Many of which you might already know, but here are a list of 11 useful and productive features that I think is less known and not so commonly used.
Some of these features may be available in other social sites, they all copy each other’s features anyways.
Scroll up to the top easily
As with most social media websites, you scroll down long pages to view posts in your timeline. As you scroll down, more and more posts are populated to the timeline making it a bottomless pit. Once you are almost all the way down, you will need to scroll all the way up.
In Google+, you can just click the the floating bar at the top and the page automatically scroll to the top.
This works from almost all pages in the site, which makes it quite easy to navigate communities, collections and timelines.
Mute notifications per post
You have the ability to configure notifications on posts that have acted on. This could be posting, commenting, sharing etc. Once in a while you will find that a post is generating way too many notifications. You can easily mute the post, and prevent all future notifications from that post.
Click on the post and then pull down the post menu by clicking the button on the top right hand corner. This is the one that looks like three vertical dots. You can see the mute option in the drop down. You can unmute the post if needed from the same menu.
The posts that are muted are marked and displayed as muted in the post title for easy reference.
Text formatting support (bold, italics, strikethrough)
Google+ has some of the most advanced formatting support for text. You can create numbered lists, can bold or italicize your text and also strike-through words and sentences. You can use these formatting when posting and commenting.
- Bold: Put the text you want to bold between asterisks (*). Example: this is the *bold text* in this sentence.
- Italics: Put the text between underscores (_) to italicize the text. Example: This is an _italicized text_ with in.
- Strike-Through: In order to create a strikethrough or cross out a word, use the hyphens (-). Example: This is the -word that is struck- here.
- Numbered Lists: Created a numbered list is just as easy. Use numbers with in the asterisks. Example: *1.* is a list.
You can also combine the formatting, for example to create a bold and italicized text.
Share to other Social Networks
You can easily add or connect to other popular social networks from inside the Google+. The currently supported networks are Facebook and Twitter. You can share posts from with in Google+ to these connected networks as well.
Click on the Share button on any post, and the share dialog will pop up. If you have already connected accounts, the option to share will up.
Create polls easily
Creating polls are as easy as creating a text post. Polls get the top level preference in the posts, which means it cannot get any more easier to create polls and gather data from your users.
To be fair other social networks also provide this feature, and Twitter makes this just as easy as well. In Google+, you can a single image as the cover or provide separate images as options.
Share to circles or just some users
One of the strengths of the Google+ platform is the granularity of security (or privacy). You can tailor the post visibility to just about the way you like. You can share with one or more specific circle, or specific communities or even just selected users.
You can also share to a single user making it quite similar to direct messaging or direct sharing.
Disable reshares and comments
Not all posts needs to reshared. Sometimes, you don’t want to deal with comments either. You can disable reshares and/or comments on your posts. These prevent the users from re-sharing your posts to a wider audience.
You can enable these options either at the time of the post creation or at a later time.
Don’t like the mouse very much? Some of us do prefer the keyboard to the mouse and there are several keyboard shortcuts that allow you to navigate the stream efficiently.
You can always check this out by the keyword shortcut ? (question mark) from anywhere on the browser tab/page. The above help window will open up and you can dismiss it with the escape key.
Drag and Drop Sharing
You can drag and drop any image, link or media into the share dialog or share window in Google+ for easy attaching to your posts. The support for this is limited depending on the browser and the operating system that you use.
I have had good support with Chrome, but some browsers such as Opera and Vivaldi had issues in Linux.
Three Column Layout
This is true for the latest Google+ layout design, which is currently in beta. And this is probably more of a workaround than a feature..but I will still list it here. You have the option to restrict the stream a single column layout in the settings. If you disable that option, then the stream displays as a two column layout in most screen resolutions.
If you are a fan of the old layout, or prefer to squeeze in as much into the screen then you might want three columns in the layout. Try to reduce the browser font for the google+ tab. You can do that by using the Ctrl+minus shortcut in most browsers. You should see the three column layout at 90% or 80% of the default. It really depends on the screen resolution you have so it is guaranteed to work for all.