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Stumbling through Google+ with two left feet

A screen shot of the Google+ social network is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters June 28, 2011.


Using Google+ is a little like learning to waltz after you've been doing the Merengue all your life.

I've been using Twitter since 2007. One of the first things I do in the morning is grab my smartphone and sift through what the people are posting. Sometimes, at night, I nestle up to my laptop and dive deep into my tweet stream, basking in the familiarity of the tidy little platform. I'm comfortable in 140 characters or less. I know all the lingo. I follow Twitter etiquette, from retweeting others (with a proper RT) and I am confident about how much I should post, what I should post and I have a good understanding of the audience that is reading.

With Google+, I have two left feet. Every time I log into my account, all I encounter is unfamiliar. Sure, I know the people in my circles and I love the slick interface, but when it comes to filling in the blank box to share something new, I'm at a loss. There is so much, well, emptiness staring back at me. When I stumble over to the camera icon to post a photo of myself hanging out on vacation, it feels oddly creepy (obnoxious, in a way). At first I was leaning toward sharing other people's posts, but now that seems sort of lame. Yesterday I opted for low hanging fruit, throwing out a simple question to my circle of followers.

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"How many posts is too little/too much on Google+?" I asked. With 150 comments and counting, clearly I wasn't the only one asking questions about this new social space. I'd love to summarize and share the gist of the reactions, but my stream of replies is ever so long. I suppose the one authoritative message that stood out was from online rockstar +Robert Scoble (yes, this is how you refer to someone on Google+, just like an @ on Twitter, but not as pretty). Here was his reply: "I would worry instead about the QUALITY of what you're sharing. If it's regularly high quality who cares?" Clearly he must know something; he has amassed nearly 100,000 followers in the few weeks since the social networking tool launched.

There was one reply in my comment stream that has lifted my Google+ spirits. User Nick Rock reminded me about an extension for the web browser Chrome called G+ME that makes it easier to scan posts and follow conversations (the add-on collapses posts and integrates a sidebar so you can see more information without expanding a message). Phew. This has somewhat uncomplicated what's "plus-ing" in front of me (sorry, I couldn't think of a better verb). However, no technology will solve my posting inhibition.

I like Google+, I think. It's new. It's shiny, in a web sort of way. It's highly energetic. I suppose it's like learning a new dance and I'm making that adjustment. And the only way to nail down all of the step is to practise, practise, practise.

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