Google+ Welcome ScreenI admit it, I used a coworker’s Google+ invitation to sign up two days ago, and now I’m surrounded by … no one I know. For the first day I couldn’t even find anyone I didn’t know.  I’m here to tell you, a social network with no social is extremely depressing and a little creepy. It was starting to feel a little bit like The Blair Witch Project, when they were separated and scrambling through the woods in the dark lost and alone. “I’m so … scared….”

Why was it so hard to find anyone else on Google+? How long would the typical new user really put up with this sad experience on a new social network? Not very long. But I’m a geek. And I want Google+ to win with an unreasonably strong desire.

Then I discovered the “Nearby” screen in the mobile app’s Stream. When viewing your Stream in the Google+ Mobile android app, just swipe to the right to switch to the Nearby Stream. At least now I could see comments from people I didn’t know physically nearby having conversations I didn’t really care about. But they were people — I’m not alone anymore!

Better than skulking around after random people, today I discovered that Mashable and The Next Web are on Google+ and followable! Following them led me to discover their writers, such as my favorite Mashable author Ben Parr. Ben is single-handedly lighting up the stream with Google+ chatter, Hangouts and generally helping folks practice their Google+ing. Now my stream has content in it, and I can see the appeal of Google+ a little more clearly. I’m more eager than ever to invite my friends so that I can use Google+ how it was actually intended.

Today Google+ is a mini-Twitter to me. Content streaming in from a couple of blogs I already follow in my feed reader.  Not that interesting, but a novelty.

In the future, I can see Google+ as a maxi-Facebook. Google+’s sharing and communication features are superior to Facebook’s. Hangout is brilliant, and I don’t even like video chatting. The idea of “hanging out” with a group of friends near and far online over video somehow seems more desirable than video chat, even though I know it’s the same thing. Incorporating it into a social experience where I’m likely to be signed in most of the day anyway on my PC and phone, though, makes it somehow feel more interesting.

All I need now are my friends and family. And guess who has them: Facebook. No, you can’t add your friends directly from Facebook to Google+ since Facebook and Google don’t Like each other. But Mohamed Mansour developed a Chrome plug in that let’s you export your Facebook friends to CSV or Google Contacts, from which you can add them to your Google+ Circles. Way to go! I’m trying it out right now. With 400+ Facebook friends, it’s a slow process, but it’s working in the background so what do I care. Hopefully someone I really care about out of those 400+ friends will be on Google+ too.

LinkedIn also allows you to export your connections here http://www.linkedin.com/addressBookExport. I should do this anyway, but importing these 460-some connections into my Google Contacts now will likely yield a  few more Google+ers.

Google+ logoAside from those import options, I wait for invitations to open up again. Care to follow me? Jill Kocher on Google+.

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