How to Manage Google+ Circles! Here is How I Do It!
What are ‘Google Circles’?
On Google+, we use circles to connect to each other. Circles make it easy to choose exactly who can and can’t see what you post to Google+. Circles are not just for people you know. You can also use circles to connect and keep up with people who share your interests.
On Google+, you can share posts to a specific circle or all your circles. If you like to share with more people, you can choose extended circles where anyone in your circles and everyone in their circles can see your post.
Public Circle: If you’re looking for a bigger audience to share your interests, knowledge and experience, I’d recommend to share posts to public. Everyone with a Google+ account can +1 or comment or reshare (according to your settings) your public posts which would be visible to anyone on the web. Search engines will pick up only those posts which are shared to the public circle.
The above screenshot shows a Google search result of a public post I’ve shared on Google+.
The circle management area can be either found at Home -> People -> Your Circles,
or you can simply visit the URL http://plus.google.com/circles
How to Circle Someone on Google+
By default, your Google+ profile has four circles (friends, acquaintance, family and colleagues). You can create as many circles as you want. I don’t use any of the default names for my circles. You can also name your circles the way you’re comfortable with or the way you can identify the interests of people in a particular circle (for ex. photography, books etc.). I’d recommend not to have more than a dozen of circles for the sake of easy management.
Adding someone to a circle is very easy. When you find someone really interesting, captivating or insightful, you can add them to your circles. Simply hover the mouse pointer over the name of that particular person and a short-info, i.e. a hover card will be displayed instantly.
TThe picture above shows my hover card. This information can definitely tell you a few things about the person (cover image, tagline, work and location) and you can decide if it’s worth following the person or not. Would you bother to circle someone who doesn’t even care to provide this much basic information? I wouldn’t. Once you want someone to be included in your circles, simply point to the follow/add button. Your list of circles will appear so that you can add this person accordingly.
Now, where do you find like-minded people to circle?
Hashtag Search: Google+ has a very reliable search feature. You can search for hashtags to find individuals with common interests to circle them.
Google+ Communities: Another way to find people in your area of interests is Google+ communities. You can join those communities that share your interests, and interact with others via posts and comments. This way you can find a bunch of nice Google+ users to circle.
Google+ Suggestions: Google+ displays a few recommendations for you on people you might be interested in following. You can check their profiles and circle if you find them interesting.
From Comments: It is good to circle people who are actively engaging on your posts. You can have a quick view of their profile and decide whether to circle them or not.
Here is a video that explains how the hashtag search helps to connect with individuals with the same interests.
Why Is Intelligent Circle Management Necessary?
Like its potential to deliver outstanding information, Google+ can also distract you. I’m not talking about a distraction of a minute or two. If you don’t manage the posts you’d like to see and people you have interests in following, it can get very distracting. There were times I would log in to my Google+ account and see tons of irrelevant information which would take my attention from what I was supposed to do. To not lose focus on your priorities and to avoid distractions, you need to manage your circles. Only then you’ll be able to use the platform effectively to engage with the right people to learn more.
When you circle someone (add/follow a person/page), their posts on Google+ will be shown in your home stream automatically. Most probably the notifications will be on by default too. So when you are following a lot of people, the posts in your home stream can become very distracting. In certain times all you would see in your home stream would be really annoying cats and GIFs. So deciding what you want to see right after you log into Google+ is very important.
To make it easy to understand, let’s see how I manage my circles.
The ‘Notify Me’ Circle
I have a ‘notifications turned on’ circle to add people whose posts I don’t want to miss. Whenever a person in this circle makes a new post, I get an instant notification via the notification bell in the top right corner. The screenshot below shows how to turn notifications on and off.
Whenever I find a person who keeps sharing outstanding posts, I add them to my notification circle. As I’m here to learn, this helps me not to miss any posts from that particular user. Also, I make sure that the person I add to this circle isn’t sharing a lot to avoid getting a lot of notifications. I’ve added people like +Vic Gundotra (Chief, Google+) to this circle. An important thing is that I don’t see these posts in my home stream. I achieved this by unchecking the box as shown below.
I did it this way to make more room for posts from other circles to appear in my home stream, as I’m getting a notification from my ‘notify me’ circle anyway. And I always check my notifications first, so I’m never going to miss any posts from the people in this circle.
Having a notification circle is a great practice, especially when someone you have great interest to learn/hear from posts/updates occasionally only. When you have a lot of posts in your home stream, there is a chance that you might miss this single and important (for you) post.
One important thing to remember is that it’s not a good idea to turn notifications on for all of your circles. If you follow 1000 people who share at least a post every day, you will end up with infinite number of notifications. That wouldn’t do any good.. you know :-)
Posts That Appear In My Home Stream
I have three circles where the posts are shown in my home stream (All tab).
‘G+ Friends’ Circle
These are some of the most wonderful people I met on Google+. There are new-to Google+ users as well as really experienced ones included in this circle; it doesn’t matter. What matters is the interaction. I want to see posts from my friends circle right after logging into Google+. So I’ve set the visibility level to ‘more’ (as shown below).
We check each other’s posts and maintain a healthy interaction. I assume that’s how we build relationships with others on social media.
This can be considered as a pre-’G+friends’ circle. I add interesting people from other circles to this one once I find they share relevant posts related to my interests and engage with me. Posts visibility from this circle is set to standard so I can see most of the posts shared by the people in this circle in my home stream.
This is where I add people who appear interesting to me. I watch their posts for a while and move a few to my ‘Engagers’ circle or drop them if our tastes turn out to be different. People who interact with me on my posts, share valuable information in communities I’m participating, share similar interests, or those whom I find a quick interest in get added to this circle. You can think of it as a probation circle. Post visibility is set to ‘fewer’ so that I don’t get to see all of their posts, but only a few in my home stream. So far, Google+ system tends to find my interests and picks the right ones to show in my home stream.
‘G+ News’ Circle
This is the circle where I add Google+ experts and other experienced users who share up-to-date information about Google+ and around. Posts from this circle will not appear in my home stream. However, I have ordered the circles in a way that G+ News appears as the first tab in my home stream as one click away page as shown before. You can also see the order of my circles here. (I have shared a circle management screen at the end of this post to show you how I arrange/order them).
As the G+ News tab appears first on top, it is easy for me to go through the new posts and articles being shared there as soon as I’ve gone through the notifications and my home stream. Sometimes I check this circle (by clicking the tab) even before I check my notifications for home stream to know what’s happening on Google+. This is the circle where I learn most of the new and trending information.
This is a circle I’ve created just to follow the top Google+ users in different areas of expertise. People like +Guy Kawasaki, +Richard Branson etc. fit in here. Posts from this circle do not appear in my home stream, as I want to see their posts only when I want to see them. This circle is placed right after the G+ News tab so that the posts from these users are also just a click away from my home stream.
This is an exclusive circle, where I add people after asking their permission to be included in it. I formed this circle to share my experience and knowledge and to learn things together. I also have plans to start writing exclusive newsletters to share things/strategies that I feel are worth trying out with the insiders circle to have a better connection with the people in it. I’ve ordered it as the third circle so I can have a quick access to the posts by people in it. If you’d like to become an insider, you can join HERE.
Circles of ‘Specific Interests’
I have several other interests like photography, travelling, food, Hangouts etc. and I do have a circle for each of my specific interests to connect to other individuals with similar interests. But as you can guess, I do not want to see food or photography related posts in my home stream all the time. I do have a job, and it is important that I focus on my priorities. That’s why I turned off the notifications for these circles and unchecked the ‘show posts in the Home stream’ box. When I’m in the mood to read about a particular topic, I check these circle streams and go through the posts. This helps me to get less distracted and more focussed.
So that’s all about my circles. Now, let’s see a few other things related to circles, in general.
To combine two circles, go to your circles, click on circle A, click ‘Actions’ and choose ‘select all’ from the drop-down menu, drag them & drop to circle B. Then, click on circle A, to see a ‘delete’ button to delete it (shown below). You can also move a person from one circle to another by drag & drop.
Dropping a Person (Uncircling)
I don’t normally uncircle people. But if it happens, it must be because of one of the following reasons:
1. When the tastes differ. You’d add people to your circles thinking you share similar interests or you find the posts shared by the user interesting. But there is a chance that later you’d find out your tastes are completely different. You may drop/uncircle the person. It’s quite normal.
2. Spamming and Trolling. Shoot (block) at sight ;)
3. No activity on Google+ for a long period of time. There is no point in having someone in your circle if he/she isn’t updating anything (unless the person is someone really close) for more than a month. So I use the circloscope Chrome extension to find inactive users and drop them.
Not that I’m going to uncircle Richard Branson ;) Just showing you how it works. Simply point to the person’s name and uncheck the circle he/she is in.
Importance of the order of your circles
Order of the circles in the circle management area decides how it appears in your home stream and when you hover over a user to add him/her to a specific circle. You should place the circles first which you’d want to access directly from your Google+ home page (as shown below). The first four are the one-click-away circles from your home page.
To see how it appears in the home stream, take a look at the screenshot shown a couple of paragraphs above.
Adding Shared Circles
Do I add a whole circle? Not always. But, yes. I do add shared public circles to my circles. When I come across a group of really engaging and interesting people in a specific area where I have some interests, I add them by creating a new circle. To identify the circle, I name it using some information on who shared it or the topic the circle is about.
I turn off all notifications for this circle and the posts from this circle will not be shown in my home stream. I give it some time and check the stream/posts every now and then to see if something interesting comes up, and then move interesting people to my other circles or drop those I don’t want to follow anymore.
I guess that’s it. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. You may connect with me on Google+ here: http://Google.com/+MervikHaums
If you’d like to read more about Google+: Take a look at my Google+ Guides