I’ve been using Google+ full time for more than a week, and to me its superiority to Facebook could not be more obvious.
Compared with Google+, Facebook feels old, stale and bogged down by problems and limitations.
Just a few examples: Facebook’s EdgeRank censors most of your posts secretly, without telling you; most of your friends never see what you post. Longer posts have to be broken up awkwardly into multiple posts because Facebook imposes a 420-character limit on updates.
Because Facebook hides its feature for clumping friends into different groups, most users post everything to all friends. Facebook’s settings are so confusing that most people have no idea who can see their updates. In order for your family or friends to see your status updates, they have to be Facebook members. Lame apps that other people install on Facebook spam and litter your Wall.
Google+ has none of these problems. Plus (pun intended), it has an incredibly cool HTML5 user interface and simple, clear and appealing design.
The difference between Google+ and Facebook is like the difference between Starbucks and a can of Folgers.
So quit Facebook and jump on Google+, right? Well, not so fast.
Facebook has one thing Google+ hasn’t got: your mom. And your high school friends. And your ex-coworkers. And just about everyone you know.
And that’s a problem.
Despite excited predictions on both sides of the issue, Google+ won’t “kill” Facebook. And Google+ won’t “fail” and go away. We now live in a bi-polar social world with two networks. Google+ and Facebook will co-exist indefinitely.
What to do? Keeping using Facebook, even though it’s horrible? Start using Google+ instead, even though your family and friends aren’t there? Use both? Use neither? These appear to be the only four possibilities, and none of them appeal.
But there’s a fifth choice: Use Google+, but stay in touch with Facebook friends without ever logging in to Facebook. Here’s how to do it.
How to connect with Facebook friends from Google+
You can do all your interaction with Facebook friends just as you do with your Google+ friends on Google+ itself. Just follow my three tips:
1. Add non-members to your Google+ social network
People think Facebook has more users to connect with. But that’s a myth. In reality, you can reach anyone with an e-mail address from Google+.
In other words, Google+ lets you add anyone to your Circles (groupings of people you know, like “Family” or “Friends”), even if they’re not on Google+. To add a non-member, simply click on the Circle you want to put them in and click “Add a new person.” Enter the e-mail, followed by their name.
When you post something to a Circle, say, “Family,” Google+ members in that group will see your post on Google+, and non-members will see it in e-mail.
If you don’t know Facebook friends’ e-mail addresses, just ask on Facebook.
2. Set up a spy bot to check Facebook, so you don’t have to.
Once you leave your Facebook friends behind, you may feel out of the loop. To avoid that, you can tell Facebook to notify you when someone posts something you may be interested in.
Choose Account Settings from the Account menu. Choose the Notifications tab, and put a check in the box of each item type you’d like to receive by e-mail. When you’re done, click “Save Changes.”
In the future, when you see an item from Facebook in your inbox you’d like to reply or respond to, make that response on Google+, not Facebook. Your friends who are not on Google+ will get the response as e-mail, with a link to the item and an invitation to join Google+.
Eventually, they’ll probably join. The pictures are bigger and better. The messaging is better. Your friends will like Google+ Circles. Posting only on Google+ will encourage your Facebook friends to switch.
3. Set up the posting of Facebook status updates from Google+
You can have some Google+ updates automatically appear on Facebook as status updates! To the best of my knowledge, this tip has never been published anywhere.
The simple idea is that you add a personal e-mail address as a contact on Google+, then set up that address to automatically forward the note to Facebook using the Facebook feature for posting via e-mail.
First, you’ll need an e-mail address that is not the Gmail address you use for Google+ (Google won’t deliver e-mail to the Gmail address associated with an account that is sent from that account.) You can create second e-mail account on Google, or use any other e-mail account. If you have POP3 or IMAP addresses connected to your Gmail account, those will work fine, too.
Facebook gives you a custom e-mail address you can use to post things via e-mail. When you’re logged into Facebook, just go to this URL: http://www.facebook.com/mobile/ and look under “Upload via Email” for your custom e-mail address. Copy it.
Now head over to your second e-mail account and set it up to forward e-mail coming from Google+ to Facebook.
If you choose the option to use a second Gmail account, here’s how to set up the forwarding. Click on the gear-wheel icon in the extreme upper right, then choose “Mail settings.” Click on the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, then on the “Add a forwarding address” button. Paste in your Facebook e-mail and click “Next.”
Now go get your confirmation code — it’s been posted to your Facebook Wall as a status update. Copy it, then delete the post. Back on Gmail, paste in the confirmation code.
Now that you’ve added your Facebook account as a forwarding e-mail address, it’s time to set up the forwarding. Click “Create a filter” to the right of the Search box. In the “From” box, add plus.google.com and in the “To” box, put the e-mail address you’re using. Click “Next Step.” Click the “Forward it to” box, and choose your Facebook e-mail address. Click “Create Filter.”
Once you’ve set up an e-mail account to forward to Facebook, go to Google+ and click on the Circles button at the top. Click on the grey circle that will say “Create Circle” when you click on it. Click on the words “Create Circle.” Add “Facebook” as the description. Click “Add a new person,” and add your Gmail address, then click “Create circle with 1 person.”
From now on, when you want to post on Facebook, simply add your “Facebook” circle to the addressing of the Google+ post. (Make sure you check the “Also email 1 person not yet using Google+” box.)
Note: Facebook will only post 44 characters of the message, so you’ll have to be more concise even than you would be on Twitter.
Is it Worth the Trouble?
Now all this setup may seem like a lot of work. Why not just log into Facebook once in a while?
I think it’s worth it. The reason is that streamlining your social networking into a single network saves you a huge amount of time.
Think about it: How much time have you spent wading through junk and spam on Facebook in the past year? It probably adds up to dozens of hours. By setting this up now, you’ll cut your Facebook interaction down to minutes a month, and have more time to enjoy Google+.
Plus, it will encourage your family and friends to also leave Facebook, and join you on Google+.
Google+ is better, but Facebook has the advantage popularity. These three tips can let you have your cake and eat it, too. You can be on Google+ without disconnecting from family and friends on Facebook.