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What are Google+ Circles? Plus more Circles, Circling and Sharing Circles

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If Google+ circles have got you all in a muddle, or you are left asking yourself “What are Google+ Circles”, then this short video and guide below will walk you through each and every step

What are Google+ Circles?

  • Circles are what set Google+ apart from other Social platforms. Twitter and Facebook have similar systems, but were added as a later function.
  • With Google+, it’s a fundamental construct of the entire platform and therefore works much more smoothly.
  • Circles enable you to have conversations and share content with unique groups of people.

Why have Circles?

  • When you post to “public” on Google+, it’s the same action as a Tweet. It’s indexed by search engines and anyone can see the post.
  • You could create a “Friends and Family” circle, to which you share more personal activities as you might on Facebook, this content then won’t interrupt your business contacts.
  • Similarly, you might have a “Business” circle with whom you share business stuff, which won’t interrupt your family contacts.
  • The name and content of those circles is private to you. Although you’ve added someone to a circle, they only see that you’re following them, not which circle they’re in.
  • Circles work the other way too. You can read your content segmented in the same way, almost like the way a newspaper is divided up in to sections, except you’ll create only the sections relevant to you.
  • For your hobbies and interests, you could create a circle of people and pages that are relevant to that hobby (I have one for Snooker and one for F1, for example).

Sharing With Google+ Circles

When you post to Google+, you choose which circles to share that post with. You can choose multiple circles as well as Public.

When you post to a specific circle, the users in that circle will usually get notified that you shared something with them. Take care with this, you don’t want to overuse it and be guilty of notification spam and get yourself blocked by those users you’re trying to reach.

When you post only to a specific circle, that post is private to the people in that circle. Only those users can see and interact with that post. Think of it like emailing a group of contacts in the “To” or “cc” fields.

A word of caution though, in case you were thinking of sharing really sensitive information though, consider it the same as email too – it’s private, but you’re not in control of that content once you’ve posted it – it’s easily shared.

Should any user in that circle mention someone else in the comments thread, the person mentioned can also see the post and the whole thread too.

Users can also reshare your post, opening it up to a greater audience you have no control of, just like email.

Sharing a Google+ Post to Public: Anyone can see it, no one gets notified unless you specifically mention them in the post.

Sharing a Google+ Post to specific circle(s): Only users in that circle can see and interact with the post. Users in that circle will be alerted to the post.

Sharing a Google+ Post to Public and to specific circle(s): Both of the above happen.

Sharing Circles

Google+ does include a function to share your circles publicly. For many users, there’s absolutely no reason to do this, but it does have it’s benefits.

As your time on Google+ builds a greater audience and interaction and therefore visibility, you might be alerted that someone shared a circle with you in it.

Don’t panic!

There are perfectly legitimate reasons for sharing circles and some spammy ones.

The legitimate reason is that a user has curated a circle of pages and people that they value and respect and they’re recommending that other users with similar interests should follow that circle too. If you’re lucky enough to be included in such a circle, say thank you, be flattered, reshare the post with your own circles or publicly if you wish. Think of it like a Twitter “Follow Friday”.

You can also choose to add that circle to your own circles. Remember that once you’ve added the circle, it becomes your own copy and you can delete it, add people to it or remove people from it as you like, moving them to other circles. Whatever you like.

However, some users, as is inevitable on any Social Media platform, insist on their goals being the quantity of followers rather than the quality. This creates spammy activity you might see on other platforms too – sharing circles which include you which you must comment, reshare and +1 in order to be included next time.

It’s entirely up to you whether you think this is valuable activity or not, but if your goal is engagement, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much from many of the shared circles.

Managing Circles

  • Circles can be created from the “People” section of Google Plus and also via the hover card which appears over either user’s profile or name as you hover over it.
  • Users and pages can be added to as many of your circles as you like.
  • You can add users and pages to your circles or remove them via the hover card or via their profile or on the People tab.
  • Users are typically alerted when you follow them, but aren’t alerted when you unfollow or move them between circles.

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