Think Google+ is a ghost town? If it is, it’s one of the most rambunctious ghost towns you can find on the Internet. An estimated 60% of all Google+ users log in every single day.  While the growing social media platform might not topple Facebook any time soon, it has silenced early critics and developed a number of cool features that you can’t find anywhere else.If you want to make the switch (or if you’re already an avid user of the social network), you should be familiar with all its neat little tricks and hacks.

Here are six ways you can make the most of your Google+ experience.

1) Know Your Hotkeys

If you navigate the interface with just your mouse, you’re moving at half-speed.  Here the basic hotkeys all Google+ users should know.

  • @  — Send feedback to Google
  • / — Select the search box at the top of the page
  • Left Arrow Key — Navigate to the icons on the left (such as Home or Photos)
  • Right Arrow Key — Navigate from the icons on the left side to the main page
  • j — Move down in the stream
  • k — Move up in the stream
  • n —  Load new posts
  • l — Move to the next comment on the current post
  • p — Move to the previous comment on current post
  • r — Comment on the current post
  • ? — Open the full list of keyboard shortcuts

2) Use Hashtags

Want your posts to be discovered by other people? With hashtags, Google+ has you covered. Just put a # before any word in your post, and it will automatically be grouped with similar content. For example, if you use the hashtag “#infographic” like this, they can simply click on it in order to automatically browse through similar content.

3) Get The Surplus App

Have a very active Google+ account?  Then you should be using the Surplus App for Chrome. It will give you real time notifications every time there’s an update in your feed. Plus, it allows you to switch between multiple accounts easily. A must-have if you’re a power user.

4) Mute Posts

Want to stop seeing notifications from specific posts? Just click on the right-hand side arrow and select “mute post.” Even if the conversation continues about that post, you won’t hear about it.

5) Disable Resharing

Ah, but what if you don’t want your posts to be discovered by other people outside of who you have in your circles?  Google+ has you covered too. When you want to really protect your privacy, you can “disable resharing” on each one of your posts. That means that your circles can see it, but they won’t be able to share it with their circles, keeping your content safely contained.

6) Change It To a Facebook Layout

One of the biggest complaints about Google+ is that the layout isn’t quite as intuitive as Facebook. If you’re having some difficulty making the transition, you can slap on some social media training wheels by changing the layout to look like the number one social network. Just install this style and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Next Gen Social Network

Facebook didn’t become the 800 pound gorilla of the social world overnight, and Google+ has a lot of work to do before it claims the top spot. But if you want to really experience what this up and comer has to offer, knowing all the cool little tricks that Google offers will help you get a fantastic online experience.

About the author: Francis Nameth is a writer living on the west coast.  When he isn’t surfing, he is writing about social media, innovation, and crime.
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