How to make good use of Google+'s Circles

How to make good use of Google+'s Circles

Summary: Want to get the most from Google+ circles? Here are some ideas.

SHARE:

I was going to write more about the nuts and bolts of Google+, but that's changing so fast that I've decided to hold off on that for now. Instead, I want to share with you what I've found out so far about how to make the most from Google+'s circles.

Let me start with the basics. Google circles are a way of organizing the people you choose to follow on Google+. People can add you to their circles, but they'll only see your posts that you choose to make public, unless you add them to one or more of your circles.

So, for example, if you post "I really like Spotify [the new online music service]" to the public, everyone who has you in one of their circles can see it. If you post it to your "Friends" circle only the people you've placed in your Friends circle will be able to read it.

The reverse is also true. Let's say you really don't want to see all of great aunt Tillie's pictures of her prize winning Siamese cats. You just read your Friends circle' stream of messages instead of your Family circle's stream.

You're also in charge of how much other information other people can see about you based on your circle. So, for example, you can set your circles so that only "Friends" and "Family" can see your phone number.

In any case, no one but you knows who's in your circles or which circles you've placed them in. So, you'll know that your annoying uncle Joe has been placed in the circle "Ugly Relatives," but no else will.

What all this adds up to is control. Unlike Facebook, where pretty much anyone your friends with can see everything you post, Google+ gives you fine control of who sees what and what you see.

My friend and fellow journalist Mike Elgan, has proposed what I think is a really useful overall way of looking at circles. Elgan's taxonomy of Google+ circles goes like this:

Instead of saying, "I'm going to write a blog post now," or "I'm going to send an e-mail" or "I think I'll tweet something" you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you're going to say it to.

If you address it to "Public," it's a blog post.

If you address it to "Your Circles" it's a tweet.

If you address it to your "My Customers" Circle it's a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

That's a darn good start. Now let's refine it.

If you're addressing something to the public, it doesn't have to be a blog post. It can be anything that you think is interesting and you want to share with the world.

Just keep in mind that if you want to keep people reading your words show some sense about what you post. For example, I can already tell you that a lot of Google+ users are already sick and tired of animated GIF graphics-no matter how cute they are.

You can divide up "Your Circles" in several ways. The basics, as I see it are: personal; work; and interests. A personal circle is just what it sounds like: Friends, Close Friends, and Family. You get the idea.

Work circles get more interesting. You could have everyone in your company in a circle; your workgroup in another, the guys you're plotting to take over the company with another... oh did I say that?

Or, you can have work circles of business partners, press who cover your company, or customers. That's what the CEO of Seesmic, a social media company, did for Salesforce. This Google+ Salesforce experiment appears to have worked very well indeed.

I can see this working in other ways. Perhaps a customer support circle in addition to your other customer support forums? Or, you could also try Google+'s Hangouts, Google Plus' built-in video-conferencing, for business meetings or technical support. The last isn't my idea by the way, It's Michael Dell's, CEO of Dell, notion.

Dell, I might add, has floated this idea in his public circle. So, it seems to both myself and Mr. Dell that you can also use business circles for basic marketing research.

Last, but not least, you can set up circles by interests. Want to hang out with your colleagues? Listen to other people who like Shih-Tzu dogs, like yours truly and Bill Gates? Suffer with fellow Chicago Cub fans? Just find like-minded people and set up a circle.

At the moment, Google+ circles aren't ideal for interest circles. For example, if you were to follow me in a dog-lovers circle, I might only mention pups once every other day or two. It's my understanding though that Google intends on making it easier to post by topics. I certainly hope they do.

I'm only touching the surface of what can be done with Google Circles here. In part, I'm doing this because I'm still getting the hang of this myself. The other part is that Google is far from done with circles yet. You can expect big changes in circles in the next few weeks.

Related Stories:

10 reasons why Google Plus is for enterprising people

Can Google+ be a Facebook Killer?

Five Things to love about Google+

Google snaps up g.co URL shortcut for Google products

A Facebook warning call: NYT says Google+ gets privacy right

Topics: Apps, Google, Social Enterprise

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

12 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    How do Sparks relate in terms of posting/networking around interests?
    thefoff
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    Funny, that's just how Facebook lists work...
    aep528
    • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

      @aep528 no, it isn't.
      terjeb@...
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    Circles in Google+ is the equivilent of List in facebook. so you can target your post to certain people in your list.
    issie
    • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

      @issie It is more complex than it looks, in g+ all you have to do is 'Drag'.
      Axelssj99
  • Circles within circles

    I wish there was a way to make a circle part of another one. I have circles with broader interests that subsume circles with specialized interests.<br><br>It would be nice if I could put someone in a sub-circle and it would automatically be part of the super-circle.
    sparent
    • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

      @srparent -- I sent a suggestion to Google similar to this- have the ability to drag circles into other circles. For example, drag the circles "Computer Geeks", "Ham Radio Ops", and "Networking Gurus" into the "Tech Heads" Supercircle. I suggested they show Supercircles by an extra concentric ring on the outside of the regular Circle graphic.
      dougbrunelle@...
    • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

      Circles in Google+ is the equivilent of List in facebook. so you can target your post to certain people in your list. <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/essay/">essay help</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/coursework/">Coursework Help</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/assignment/">Assignment Help</a>
      jordanhawk
    • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

      I wish there was a way to make a circle part of another one. I have circles with broader interests that subsume circles with specialized interests. <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/dissertation/">Dissertation Help</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/thesis/">Thesis Help</a>
      jordanhawk
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    People can be added to multiple circles as well, so that's worth considering when planning it all out.
    Captain_Spectacular
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    <a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com"><strong>Chanel bags</strong></a> is very luxury and high-grade. <a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com"><strong>Chanel handbags sale</strong></a> and confidence; make their range stand out above any other. Maybe this is why they are so high profile and craved by many a celebrity. It is a brand that never disappoints with a selection of exploding diamante designs, luxurious quilted arms and interlacing. Buying Chanel from our <a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com"><strong>Chanel on sale</strong></a>. Back to <a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com"><strong>Chanel Bags online</strong></a> to know more products information.Chanel founder Gabrielle Chanel in 1913 Chanel was founded in Paris,<a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com/chanel-shoulder-bags-c-101.html"><strong>Chanel Shoulder Bags</strong></a>, Chanel's products range from clothing, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, perfumes,<a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com/chanel-new-bag-c-71.html"><strong>Chanel New Bag</strong></a>, each product is known, in particular, her perfume and fashion . Chanel (CHANEL) is a famous brand in more than 80 years experience, Chanel Fashion has always elegant, simple,<a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com/chanel-cambon-bags-c-90.html"><strong>Chanel Cambon Bags</strong></a>, elegant style, she good at breaking, early 40's on the success of tied up the ladies into the simple,<a href="http://www.chanelonsalebags1.com/chanel-messenger-bags-c-96.html"><strong>Chanel Messenger Bags</strong></a>, comfortable This is perhaps the first modern casual wear.
    Chaneloutlet
  • RE: How to make good use of Google 's Circles

    Captain_Spectacular mentioned this above- an important point is that you can put people into multiple circles. We all have multiple interests. A member of your "Tech Heads" Circle could also be a member of your "Former Co-workers" Circle and your "Bicycling Club" Circle. It'll take a bit of time, but putting each person in all the circles that they apply to will give you the best results when posting on a given topic. Imho.
    dougbrunelle@...