The easiest way to describe Google+ Circles is to think of them like Facebook or Twitter lists. When you’re inside Google+, placing someone inside of a circle is the same as curating a list of individuals or companies that you want to hear from every time they post.
You can also think of Google+ Circles the same way you have your own personal circle of friends in your everyday life. Below are some of the most-common questions I get asked when I teach workshops:
Do I need to “Circle” someone back if they’ve “Circled” me?
No you don’t. You have to remember that Google+ isn’t Facebook. Although some of the same concepts apply, Google+ allows other people to follow what you’re doing with the option of not having to “Circle” someone back. This concept is very similar to how you participate on Twitter:
People can follow your Twitter feed, but you don’t have to necessarily follow them and vice versa.
How many people can I Circle in Google+?
Currently, you can only Circle 5000 people on Google+. I tend to be choosy when it comes to people I follow because of this number alone. If I were to give you a recommendation of who to follow, I’d say follow people who are always pumping out good and useful content. Use the Google+ search bar and type in keywords that are interesting to you.
For example, if you want to look for people who are into “fitness”, just type into the search bar “fitness” or “#fitness” and you will be take to a curation page filled with posts where people are talking about fitness to some degree. If you see a post that is well-thought and useful, hover over the person’s name or profile photo and check their profile to see if they are producing more content like the one post you had found on the curation page. From there you can decide if you want to put them into a fitness Circle or not.
How many people can Circle me in Google+?
Tons! I’m not even joking about this either. I have seen individuals have over 500,000 followers while people like Britney Spears have over 8.1 million followers. In your case, the small business owner, you could gain a tremendous following on Google+ if you’re sharing and re-sharing content that fits your audience’s needs.
I’ve noticed a navigation bar on my Home screen that has some of Circle names? What is that?
In the purest form, those are your Circles. When you click on any one of those Circle titles, you are taken to the Circle stream of information. In other words, anyone you have placed into the circles will have their updates show up in this stream of information.
Arrange your Google+ Circles in the order you want them to show up on your Home screen
When people are in their Circle management screen, rarely do they know they can drag and drop their circles in the order in which they show up on the Home screen. In my case, I have the first four circles as the most important circles that I want to read everyday. Once I have arranged them, their order should correspond on my home screen.
Can I receive Google+ Circle notifications from people whose content is really great?
When you go in and start arranging your Circles together, you can do what I do and create a “Notification” Circle. There is a slight learning curve when setting up this Circle, but as you journey through Google+ you are going to find people who either A.) post REALLY AMAZING stuff or B.) post REALLY AMAZING stuff, but only do infrequently. When you’re circling these people, you can place them in a “Notification” circle that will not only send a notification to you every time they post, but it will also notify you on your mobile device (given you have allowed your settings on your phone to notify you).
Can I notify my Google+ Circles about posts I share to to my stream?
Yes, you can but as a word of caution, this can result in people un-circling and muting you if you abuse the privilege.
When a user creates a post inside of Google+, they will be given the option to share their posts with the Public and any Circles they choose. When a user chooses specific circles and shares the post, people you have placed in those circles will receive a notification in the upper right-hand corner of Google+ (the bell in the right-hand corner is where notifications are collected).
Additionally, when you share posts and append specified circles, you are given the option to send these people an email of your post too. Although you can create a circle of people who wish to receive your emails, I would recommend not sending anyone an email when you’re first jumping on the network.
Pro Tip: Create a “News” Circle to start curating the latest and most-important news
In recent weeks there has been some discussion on how people use their Circles. In my case, I use my Circles as a means to curate and read news content daily. I have made it a point to Circle people who are constantly pushing out good content everyday that will allow me to share back into the network.
Because I’m a news hound, I have created a “News” circle where nothing but local and national news outlets share content on daily basis. In fact, I find out about popular news stories before they even hit the mainstream media by utilizing my circles in this respect.