How to Manage Your Google+ Circles

By Janine Warner, David LaFontaine

When Google+ was launched, the entire marketing effort was modeled after the way that Apple has managed to create such fanatical loyalty amongst its adherents and detractors. Only a select few were initially invited to create profiles and start playing around with the interfaces and tools. These early adopters quickly realized that the most radically different feature of Google+ was that all your friends belong to what Google called Circles.

Unlike every other social media platform at the time, Google+ seemed to recognize that usersall have wildly different sets of social contacts that they interact with in our daily lives — and sometimes there are things they share with one group but don’t necessarily want to share with another.

The pictures from the wild weekend party with college buddies aren’t things you want corporate managers to raise an eyebrow over, while the latest technological advances are of little interest to family members who just want to coo over cute videos of their grandchildren.

With Circles, you can set how much access to your life and your updates you grant to the contacts in your social life — and this allows you a shortcut to checking in on what’s happening in these various aspects of your life. You can switch from checking in with your artsy friends to see what they think of the latest music video, over to a Circle devoted to political activists.

Your Google+ account comes equipped with default Circles to allow you to sort and organize your contacts and connections: Friends, Family, and Acquaintances. However, you can create as many new Circles as you want to define your relationships. And you can add someone to more than one Circle.

For example, your sister can be in both the default Family Circle and your custom-created Circle of “People I grew up with” that also includes your grade school classmates. The default Circles always stay at the top of your list, but after that, they are sorted alphabetically.

Google+ also empowers users to organize themselves into communities. Your Circles always remain private to you (unlike, say, Twitter, where if you add someone to a list entitled “People I Despise,” they are notified). On Google+, Circles are always private, but Communities are both open to the public and visible to everyone. As you can see, there are thousands of communities, catering to every conceivable interest.

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If you find a community that particularly appeals to you, you can add every person there to your Circles. You can search for them by browsing through the All Communities tab or see what Google+ thinks you may be interested in by clicking Recommended for You. Some communities are closed, and you must ask and be approved to join.

You may select more than one category for each Google+ user you connect with.