Google+ arrives at the (crowded) social site party

I was extremely excited to get an invitation to try out Google+, the new social networking platform from Google (“Real-life sharing, rethought for the web”). However, the effort to export my data out of Facebook and into Google+ took some time. Facebook has decided to make it difficult for you to export friends into Google+.

For those of you who haven’t gone through this exercise, be sure to set aside two to three hours. Here’s what I had to do.

First, you have to do a work-around to export your Facebook contacts to Yahoo! Mail; Facebook won’t let you export directly to Google+. I haven’t touched Yahoo! mail in more than five years, so I had to set up a new Yahoo! Mail and then export my contacts from Facebook into Yahoo! mail. The next step is to import from Yahoo! Mail to Google+, but I couldn’t get it to work either.

After three attempts, I gave up. Remembering that Windows Live is an import option, I dug up my old Hotmail account. (I hadn’t touched it in more than five years, either, but Microsoft didn’t unplug it.) Then I went through the same exercise, exporting Facebook contacts to Windows Live and then from Windows Live to Google+. Luckily, it worked.

The one limitation is Microsoft won’t let you import until you invite some of your Facebook contacts into Windows live. One other option is to import from Microsoft Outlook via a CSV file. I did this to see how it compared to the Windows Live work-around … and I wish I had done this first. It was much easier. Unfortunately not all of my Facebook contacts are in my Outlook contacts, so this wasn’t a perfect option either.

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