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social media how toAre you building a network on Google+?

Do you want to keep your connections organized?

Sorting people and pages into circles allows you to read the news you want from your stream and connect with specific audiences.

In this article I’ll share how to use circles to improve your Google+ network.

get more out of google+ with circles

Discover how to get more out of Google+ with Circles.

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#1: Fill Your Google+ Circles

Google+ profiles and pages use circles to organize the contacts they follow. Think of circles the same way you would Facebook interest lists or Twitter lists, but with more functionality. Both profiles and pages can add other profiles and pages to their circles to follow their public updates.

Profiles come with four default circles: Family, Friends, Acquaintances and Following. Pages come with four default circles: Following, Customers, VIPs and Team Members. Use these circles or delete them and create your own custom circles.

There are a few ways to add people to circles. Hover over the Add to Circles button on Google+ profiles or click the Follow button on Google+ pages to add someone to a circle. Add profiles and pages to multiple circles, based on how you plan to use them.

add a page to circles

Add Google+ profiles and pages to one or more circles.

To see people and pages that have added you to their circles, click on the notifications icon near the top right of your Google+ screen. Then hover over the Add button to put those people into your circles.

add people to circles from notifications

Add people and pages to circles from your notifications.

While logged in as your Google+ profile or page, click on People in the left sidebar menu. Those are people and pages that have added you on Google+, as well as suggested people and pages from Google+. You also have the ability to search for your Gmail contacts, colleagues and classmates on Google+.

Hover over the Add buttons to put these people and pages in your circles. You can also drag people and pages into circles in the Your Circles view.

drag people to circles

Drag people and pages into the circles you want to add them to.

Now that you know how to add people and pages to your circles on Google+, let’s look at the ways to use circles to customize your experience and your Google+ marketing.

#2: Filter What You See by Circle

One way to use your circles on Google+ is to filter your stream (news feed). As you add people and pages to your circles, think about how you would like your stream to be organized. Then add people and pages to circles according to those categories. Use the menu bar at the top of your stream to filter by your circles, so you get whatever information you want to read, when you want it.

filter by circle

Set up and filter your stream based on your circles.

The Google+ iOS app has a similar menu at the top to filter your stream. Click on the All drop-down to see a list of your circles, and then select a circle to view its updates.

#3: Target Your Circles

Share Updates With Specific Circles

Sharing to specific circles is just like sharing to friends’ lists on Facebook. Think about the groups of people who would enjoy specific types of updates, and then add people and pages to circles according to those categories. When you create targeted updates, select the relevant circles of people to receive them.

share updates by circle

When creating circles, think about the different categories certain people and pages fall into. Then share targeted updates with people in specific circles.

For updates you want to share with everyone, use the Public option. For updates you want to keep private for friends and family, or share with only members of your business’s VIP group, use their circles.

When you share to specific circles, everyone in those circles will see who received the update.

see who received updates by circle

When you share a post with specific circles, Google+ shows everyone else in that circle who received it.

Keep this “public” aspect in mind when you decide which people and pages to add to what circles.

Email Your Circles

One advantage of sharing updates with specific circles (as opposed to publicly) is the ability to send an email to the people and pages within those circles. This feature works depending on the settings for people and pages in your circles and whether those people and pages have added you to their circles.

email sent to circle

Email updates to people and pages within specific circles, if they have email enabled and you’re in their circles as well.

Remember, the email feature only works for a total of 100 people or fewer. Therefore, you may want to create one or multiple circles for the specific purpose of sharing via email. Recipients will receive an email that looks similar to this.

email sent by circle

This is how an update shared via email to specific circles looks.

Only use the email feature for updates that really count, so your followers don’t unsubscribe because you send too many updates to their inbox.

Hang Out With Your Circles

If you’re not yet ready for public blabs, Google+ allows you to host hangouts for only your circles or certain individuals. As you add people and pages to your circles, consider what groups of people you would want to have as part of your hangout broadcasts, and add people and pages to circles according to those categories.

google hangout audience selection

Google+ hangouts allow the option to share only with specific circles.

Host live video sessions with specific audiences, such as your colleagues, co-workers, friends, customers, subscribers and other groups of people and pages. It works for both hangouts on air (as shown above) and video hangouts (as shown below).

google hangout invite

Invite specific people to a video hangout using circles.

There are a few significant differences between hangouts on air and video hangouts. Hangouts on air allow you to schedule a hangout, and have up to 10 people participating with an unlimited number of viewers. You also get a video recording to save on YouTube.

On the other hand, video hangouts happen immediately, and only allow you to have up to 10 people participating and viewing in total. Plus, there are no recording options.

In Conclusion

Circles are a powerful feature you can use to truly customize your Google+ experience, whether for receiving or sharing information.

To get the most out of Google+, organize your circles according to how you want to use the platform and in a way that aligns with your strategy.

What do you think? Is Google+ part of your marketing strategy? How do you use your Google+ circles? Please share in the comments!

how to get more out of google+ with circles

Tips for getting more out of Google+ with Circles.

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  • Thank you Kristi for writing this detailed article on Google Plus. Its really very informative and detailed.

    I have a question for you, hope it is appropriate for the topic.

    If I have a custom circle of bloggers (Have included bloggers and pages) and I decided to share an update with that circle, so who all can see my update? All of them or those who added me back in their circle?

  • Phil Bradley

    Seriously? You’re posting this now? 18 months ago, this may have been useful, but the world has moved on now.

  • Good ideas for those just starting on this network, which I imagine to be few.

    One of the main drawbacks of Google+ is that you get so many useless followers. And when I say useless, I mean utterly and completely useless. Getting in circle shares is the worst.

    Shame Google gave up on social media more than a year ago.

  • Laura Belgrave

    I’ve learned that although Google+ isn’t on most people’s mind in the way that Facebook is, it IS terrific as an SEO tool—if you keyword correctly. The company I previously worked for looked like it dominated a basic search for our industry and geographic area, and thus appeared on the front page three to four times, largely because of those specifically keyworded Google+ posts. That’s something Facebook, a closed universe, can’t do. Google can’t get into the belly of that beast and show specifics of a post.

  • STEVE KOOP

    Something is missing here…not sure what yet..but circle sharing is great..but a lazy way..and I use it for knowledge and not a business tool…so the cons are too many vs the pros…I work 70 hours a week…every week..so how long will it take me to regroup these circles..probably not worth it just for friends and knowledge aspect…but, it would be if I was a business and wanted growth…Always about follow the $$$$ Thank you..Steve Koop

  • Sorry Kristi but I think G+ Circle sharing is a bad idea at best. Circles are valuable if you

    curate them carefully, remove inactive users from them, and engage with the people you follow.

    Unfortunately, the only circle sharing I’ve seen on Google+ has been from spammers.

    “To see people and pages that have added you to their circles, click on the notifications icon near the top right of your Google+ screen. Then hover over the Add button to put those people into your circles.”

    Oh boy! You need to be careful with that tip. It’s only worth following someone who has shared content worth reading – and that won’t be the majority!

    The beauty of G+ still is that you can choose whose content you see and with whom you engage. That means you have to be VERY careful about who you add to your circles.

    Despite the “G+ is dead” meme, I am a Google+ user, although I’ve always made my own blog the center of my online presence. That’s because I own it and Google can’t remove its features at will.

  • Anyone following within that circle would be able to see your update in that case. 🙂

  • I think so long as G+ is around, you might as well make the most of it.

  • It still has its perks, depending on your niche. 🙂

  • That’s great to hear!

  • It all depends on your goals. I find it works well for promoting content with specific audiences.

  • sabah.ahmed25@yahoo.com

    It is excellent.

  • I guess it depends who you follow. The shares I get via email from people using circles are always ones I’m interested in.

  • louise miller

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  • Phil Bradley

    Well, by that reckoning we should still teach children how to write with dip pens. Google has hived off the key elements of photographs and hangouts. G+ results are not appearing in the serps any longer and it really isn’t active. There’s little point (IMO) in spending time and effort on a dead duck.

  • Sure Profits

    Thank you Kristi, this was very educational and interesting. I never knew the purpose of circles on Google+

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  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing these very helpful tips, Kristi. To be honest with you, I’m having a harder time building my network in G+ compared to LinkedIn and Twitter. I should try these hoping that they would also work for me.

  • Thank you for this great post Kristi. A wonderful insight in handling circles and acquaintances on google plus. These are good ideas to people who are starting to build a network through gplus. Google plus is complicated to use at first, but with these ideas, the people who are just new to gplus will easily understand the use of circles.

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  • Great article Kristi! Google+ is a great platform to network on and these circles help you adapt a more targeted approach. So you can engage with specific audiences, along-with the perfect copy!

  • A lot depends on the industry you are in – marketing and photography people, for example, are still really active there. 🙂

  • You’re welcome Barbara! 🙂

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • ramesh kelkar

    Say for example I add 10 people as friends, they will they see what I share? Or they also need to add me back to see what I share? Similarly if I follow someone, will they see what I share?

  • Hi Ramesh! People will need to follow you back in order to see what you post. Google+ will notify people that you have followed them (depending on their settings), so if you have some good posts set to public visibility on your profile, that should encourage those people you follow to follow you back. 🙂

  • ramesh kelkar

    Dear Kristi Hines, Thanks for explaining me.

  • If I have a circle with 400 people and share with them a post and click the tick that says send email notification, what would happen? Can I do that?

    I am asking this because you have mention that there is a limitation of 100 person to be notified via email. What should I do, create 4 circles of 100 people each one and send them email in 4 different private publications?