G oogle+ 101: Using Circles on Google+
This is the third post in our “Google+ 101” series. View the rest of the posts here.
Each social network has its own method of grouping your social connections, and often these are binary; you have the people who follow you, and the people you follow. Circles are the Google+ equivalent of friends, fans, or followers.
Like most social networks, your count for each is public by default (though you can adjust this in your privacy settings). When someone visits your Google+ business page, they’ll see this widget:
Creating and organizing Circles
Circles also offer a handy way to organize the people and pages you’ve chosen to follow. To manage your Circles, hover over the “Home” menu in the left, and select “People” from the drop-down menu. Google+ gives you a few basic Circles when you start out, but you’re free to customize these and create your own.
You’ll have to choose a Circle to put someone in when you first follow them, but you can move them later on, or even put the same person in multiple Circles. No one will be able to know what Circle you’ve added them to (unless you decide to publicly share a Circle), so feel free to organize and name the Circles as needed.
How sharing with Circles works
When you share content on your G+ page, the default share setting is both “Public,” and “Your Circles.”
If you share a post with the default “Public” enabled, it will appear in the Google+ home page stream for people that have added you to their circles, as well as on your own Google+ profile page. The post may also appear in Google search results.
When you share a post to the default of “Your Circles,” the post will appear in the home page stream for everyone that you have mutually circled. If you have circled them, but they haven’t circled you, they won’t see the post in their stream.
In general, sharing content to the default of “Public” and “Your Circles” is best. However, you can also choose to share posts to specific Circles you’ve created. If you have a post you want to share with specific Circles – a targeted business promotion, for example – you can remove “Public” and “Your Circles” and select the specific Circle(s) you want to share the post with.
It’s also important to remember that if only a handful of people have you in their circles, and you only post to your own Google+ page, not many people are going to see those posts – no matter how often you post.
Using Circles on Google+
Still confused? Check out Google’s own overview in this video:
Ultimately, learning to use Circles is just like anything else; you’ve got to get out there and start using them yourself.