A Facebook User's Guide to Google+

If you're coming to Google+ from Facebook, many things will be quite familiar and a few things will be a bit confusing. Use can use both social networks as you like to manage your social media activities.

Some key differences between Facebook and Google+:

  • Facebook, at least currently, has groups, and Google+ does not. Google+ has Circles, which are the same as Facebook lists, but not the same as Facebook groups. (See the upcoming "Comparing Google+ Circles and Facebook friend lists.")

  • Facebook requires two-way relationships on user profiles (although they do use a more "follow-based" model for Facebook Pages); Google+ does not. (See the upcoming "Defining relationships with Google+ Circles.")

  • Facebook has apps; Google+ does not currently (but likely will in the future).

  • Facebook has questions; Google+ does not.

  • Facebook has events; Google+ does not — yet. (Google owns Google Calendar which could easily be integrated in the future).

  • Google+ has hangouts, which allows for both public and private group video chats.

Google+ also streams much closer to real time than Facebook does.

Comparing Google+ Circles and Facebook friend lists

Google+ Circles are the equivalent to Facebook's friend lists. Both tools offer a way to send updates only to the people you put in specific Circles or lists.

To access Facebook friend lists, click the friends button in the left column. Clicking Manage Friend List shows all your friend lists. To add a new list, just click Create a List at the top and add people to the list. To send a message to a specific friend list, click the little lock icon below your status update box, and select Customize. In the Customize drop-down list, choose Specific people, and from there start typing in the name of the friend list you want to send to. Select the friend list (or lists) you want from the drop-down menu.

In Google+ and Facebook, you can choose specific friends and individuals you want to add to be able to see your status update (a feature Facebook has had since 2008).

Defining relationships with Google+ Circles

On Facebook, you establish relationships with people by sending and accepting friend requests, so every Facebook relationship is a two-way street. On Google+, this isn’t quite the case. On Google+ you add people to Circles, which is much more similar to Twitter's "follow" feature than it is to friending on Facebook.

On Google+, anyone can add anyone to a Circle, but having someone add you to their Circle doesn't give that person access to your updates. The only way people can see your updates and posts is if you add that person to one of your Circles and then post an update to that Circle.

You compose Circles according to your own needs and criteria, then choose which Circles to update on specific topics and events as you post them. The entire Google+ experience is built around you being able to choose which people (through Circles) you want to see your status updates.

It’s much easier to choose who you want to see your status updates on Google+ than it is on Facebook.

Tagging people on Google+

To tag someone in a post on Facebook, you can either start typing their name and let Facebook automatically detect the name, or you can explicitly type in an @ followed by the person’s name to get a list of names to choose from.

On Google+, you can’t just type in a name, but you can use the @ symbol method. In addition, Google+ offers its own method of recognizing when you’re tagging someone, which is the plus sign (+). Just type a + followed by the person’s name (you may have to enter it slowly), and a drop-down list with names for you to choose from appears.

The person you tag gets a notification that you tagged them, with a link back to your post.

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