Google+ is actually a very powerful business tool when you know how to use it correctly. It can help you make connections with the right types of people and using it will also add a highly visible profile to Google search results for your personal brand and business. The key to success with Google+ lies in mastering your circles.
What is a Google Circle?
So first, what the heck is a circle? Well, on Google+, it’s the way you can sort and organize your connections. It’s a bit like Facebook lists but a lot more dynamic. Basically, circles are the groups that you categorize your connections in.
However, the difference with Google+ is that there is actually a point to organizing all those connections into circles because it is incredibly easy to send specific posts only to the circles you choose. For example, here are some circles I have:
- Social media connections
- Writers & Authors
- Empire Avenue peeps
If I have a social media tips article, that might appeal to people in all three circles. However, a blog post about how to increase Empire Avenue activity scores may not mean anything to my other circles. I can choose which circles see the content I am sharing and I also have the option to make my content public.
Should I Do Reciprocal Circling?
The next question I hear a lot is “Should I circle people back?” Well, that’s actually up to you. There are no social requirements that demand you must circle back someone who circles you. When they circle you, it means they are interested in following your content. You will not see their content unless you circle them back.
I don’t recommend circling just because someone circled you. Your stream will get flooded with loads of content that may or may not relate to you. Instead, circle back only people who post about things you are interested in or that relate to you. Remember also that you can remove someone from a circle so if you add them based on what you think they will post on and it ends up they are a spammer or have unrelated content, you can just remove them.
How Do I Know Who Circles Me Back?
Are you wondering who is circling you back? There are several reasons why this data might be important to you and there are actually different ways you can do it.
- You can see if a specific person has circled you back by clicking on their profile. It will say “so-and-so has you in circles”
- You can also go to your main circles tab and click on “people who have added you”
- The final way is to use your Notifications to see who has added you to circles and who has added you back
What Do I Name My Circles?
Naming your circles is part of the fun of using Google+. You want to pick names that will help you remember who is going in each group but you don’t want to make names that are confusing or too similar to one another. While it’s totally up to you what you name your circles, I recommend creating a system of some type that helps you sort them.
For example, I have “close” friends and family in a specific circle because I may share different types of content with them than with people I do not know intimately. I also have a circle for “prospects” or potential clients. If they become a client, I move them from “Prospects” to the “Clients” circle. I also create circles for some things not related to my business such as hobbies. I have a circle for “Video games” where I add gamers, people who work in the industry or people who post about video games.
Can People See What Circles They Are In?
No. They can only see that you have them in circles. They will not see what the name of the circle is. However, just in case this ever changes in the future, you may not want to name your circles “People with weird haircuts” or “those stupid guys”.
What if I Need to Go Back and Sort Old Circles?
Now that you have this information about how important Google+ circles are, you might be wondering what you should do about the circles you already have. The best part is that you can go back and organize existing circles at any time you wish. Of course, if you added a lot of people without sorting them previously, it might take you some time to organize. I’d suggest setting aside some time each day to do a little at a time until it’s complete.
Luckily the Google+ circles dashboard is user friendly and intuitive. Most users have had very positive feedback on Google’s user interface itself, and the ease with which you can makes changes to your circles is a testament to that quality.
Posting to Circles on Google+
Creating your circles is one thing but they won’t do you any good if you don’t use them correctly. It pays to take the time to learn about posting to circles on Google+. The good news is that it is incredibly easy so once you invest the time to set up those circles, using them is a piece of cake.
Do I Make My Posts Public?
Making your posts public will increase the amount of people who will see your stream but be cautious of over sharing. You may overrun someone’s stream and they are likely to remove you for it. Also remember that you want to post things that are related to your niche and not post just for the sake of posting.
I try to post at least 3-5 public posts a day because it keeps me in the minds of my followers, and organically grows my following as users share my content.
Posting to Specific Circles
One of the most unique things about Google+ is that the circles allow you to fully customize who you share your content with. You can choose to post content to:
- Your circles
- Extended circles
- And below those options you will see all of your circles listed by name
Select the circle or combination of circles you want content to go to and then make your post and hit “Share”. If you want to tag specific people in the post, you can do so using the +. For example, to tag me on Google+, you would type +LisaMason.
You can also sort the order of your circles to make it easier to keep track of them. You can do this from the main circles page which allows you to drag them around to whatever order you choose.
One of my favorite things about Google+ circles is the ability to curate shared circles with other people. As you file your connections into groups you have the ability to share those groups with other friends. This becomes especially useful when integrating your interests into your network. There are hundreds of shared circles already assembled for everything from Google employees, to social media , to photographers. Curating circles specific to your niche is a networking strategy that has given several users some influence over how Google+ has grown as a network, and it’s a great way to give back and showcase your favorite friends.
A top-notch resource for finding pre-made circles for your favorite interests is the Shared Circles on G+ page. An even more comprehensive list of Google+ shared circles exists at Chris Porter’s Google+ Shared Circles Database.
The more you use your circles, the more comfortable you will become with them and the more ways you will likely see to use them to your advantage for business and personal use. One final point to remember is that you will need to revisit your circles regularly to clean, organize and re-sort them as needed. Then you can fully appreciate all that Google+ has to offer.