Google Plus A to Z: C=Circles

C = Circles


Today’s topic falls under the general heading – ‘Community Management’

As you start to share and engage, your community or ‘online connections’ will start to grow. People will start to form a picture of who you are and what you’re about, you’ll start to connect…

Connecting on Google+ is done using ‘Circles’.

When you identify someone who’s posts you want to follow, you have to assign them to 1 of your circles. By default you start with a choice of standard circles (Friends, Acquaintances etc) but you can create multiple custom circles of your own. (Note: The person who you circle will only be notified that they have been circled ‘not’ the name of the circle, so get creative, use a naming system that works for you!)

This process of correctly assigning people to circles is essential if you want your community to be effective. Trying to do this when you already have several hundred connections is a nightmare (trust me…) so try and get into the habit as early as possible. Your circles will evolve as you evolve.

Ultimately you will have a number of circles to accommodate different kinds of people. Then when you post things, you can include only the people you think will be interested.

Post your kitten pictures to ‘Cat lovers’ and your SEO studies to ‘SEO techies’ and NOT the other way around.

google+ circles, google plus, circles


To hopefully clarify what I mean, here is an analogy:circles, google+ circles, google plus

If you imagine that everybody that you’re connected to resides somewhere within a football stadium. On the stands, on the pitch and even in the posh rooms upstairs, everywhere. If your post is ‘public’ the entire stadium will see it, and be able to engage with it – which is fine if it concerns everybody.

If your post is a question about how muddy the playing surface is, then I would suggest posting it to your ‘The pitch’ circle. If it’s a comment about the pies then post to ‘The kitchens’, or if it’s about player selection maybe post to ‘The Boardroom’ and ‘Season ticket holders’    …is this begging to make sense?

Circling and uncircling is like following and unfollowing on Twitter, but with a lot more control. ‘Targeted marketing’, ‘niche networking’, ‘limited publishing’ or ‘common sense’.., call it what you want – it will help grow your network and make you more effective.

Also, just like you can indicate on your website how many Facebook ‘likes’ your company has, you can display how many people have circled you – another example of’ social proof’.

If you like, you can start by creating a ‘bald cyclists’ circle to put me in  😉

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Author: Pan Aveyard

With a background in IT, training and more recently Social Media Analysis, he has over 20 years’ experience helping people understand and then utilise ‘new stuff’. Passionate about New Media and actively engaged across many platforms, he uses this knowledge and insight to act as your guide to building an active and profitable online community.

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  1. The one thing that makes me a little hesitant about selectively sharing a lot of content is what happens with people who look at my profile and wonder about adding me to their own Circles. If they want to see what types of thing I share, they won’t see much, because I don’t know about them, so haven’t added them to any circles.

    Another useful aspect of Circles, as well as filtering your outgoing content, is filtering the incoming; selectively seeing content posted by people in a given circle.

  2. It’s a balancing act Albert, but if you want to make it easier for ‘strangers’ then state somewhere on your profile the sort of circles you’d be likely to fit into.
    “You can put me in ‘Cycling’, ‘Music’…etc”

  3. Indeed. But if I am selectively sharing with my own Circles, it doesn’t matter which of your Circles I am in. You still won’t see my content unless I have also put you in my Circles, and herein lies a fundamental flaw.

    Let’s say I’m a greengrocer on Google+, and I share two types of content:

    (1) Today’s fresh items in stock
    (2) Trends in the greengrocer community

    I would want to share (1) with my customers. I would want to share (2) with other greengrocers. So, I would have a customers Circle and a greengrocers Circle and would selectively share with each circle accordingly.

    The problem is though, I would have to add my customers and my fellow greengrocers to those two Circles before they looked at my Google+ profile, otherwise they would not see any of the content right for them. They would then possibly assume that I’m not very active on Google+, or that I am not sharing anything that would interest them.

    It is also somewhat implausible to think that I, as a greengrocer, am going to see all my potential connections on Google+ before they find me. On top of that, I probably don’t want to add every single one of my customers to Circles. It’s just not practical to do so. Add to that the fact that they may only add me to a peripheral Circle of their own, and there will be even less chance of them seeing my content. So, the whole system falls down at this point.

    I know the above example is a rather over-simplified example, but it illustrates the point that there are intrinsic flaws in the way Circles work.

  4. Ok, the first thing I would say is the greengrocer should be sharing 1) and 2) publicly.
    The massive benefit of G+ is the fact that it indexes posts to appear in Google search – but only if they’re posted ‘publicly’ As they consistently post around the subject, their search results will rise.
    Selected ‘special’ customers could be circled to be the only ones that receive certain offers, certain suppliers that one’s collaborating with could be circled. As relationships develop with certain customers and you talk of other things, ‘niche’ circles can be created.
    The greengrocer should only post to circles the things that they ‘don’t’ want to be seen by everyone – surely not the other way around..?

  5. I see your points, and yes what you suggest for my green grocer is sound advice.

    It’s just that there’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing with Circles.

  6. The egg came first, then someone added a profile pic :))


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