Google+, Day 3: Filling In the Circles

On Day 2 of 30 Days With Google+ I walked through the setting up a Google+ profile once you get an invitation to join the limited Field Trial. Having done that, though, it is now time to start adding some contacts to make it a social network instead of just a profile page. To add contacts in Google+, I first have to grasp the Circles concept.

Understanding Circles

Here is how Google explains the concept of Circles in Google+: "You share different things with different people. But sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn't be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself, just like real life."

OK. I can wrap my brain around that. I don't usually announce everything I have to say to everyone willing to listen, and there are certainly many things I want to say to one group or person that I don't want the rest of the world to see.

Organizing contacts in Google+ requires segregating them into Circles.
So, I can set up one Circle for work, another circle for family, another circle for close friends, one for a golf or bowling league, etc. Then, when I want to share information about a client or project, I can post it to my work Circle and not bore my friends and family, and when I want to post something about a birthday party for my kid I can post it to just the family Circle, or maybe family and friends Circles without sharing personal information with those I just work or golf with.

You can create any Circles you want to fit however you choose to organize or segregate the people in your social network. By default, Google+ starts with four Circles: Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. Friends and Family are self-explanatory. Acquaintances is for people you know that don't really qualify for the inner circle of "Friends", and Following is for a more Twitter-like relationship where you follow and read the public comments from specified users even though they aren't really in your Circles and don't have you in theirs.

I added some accounts like Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg to Following. I assume they have no intention of putting me in their Circles, but I'd like to see what they post on Google+.

My Google+ Circles started off looking pretty barren.
Empty Circles

I just set up the Google+ profile yesterday, so my Circles are empty. Normally, Google+ will at least start by suggesting people from your Gmail, Android, or other Google services, but I set up my Google+ profile using a brand new Gmail account that has no other data associated with it yet, so Google doesn't even know where to begin.

I clicked the link to connect to my Hotmail account and import contacts from there. That gave me a few hundred people to add to Circles, spanning the range of friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and other such groups.

The problem, however, is that few--if any--of my contacts are using Google+ yet. I can still drag them into Circles if I want. What will happen is that when I post something to that Circle, contacts not set up on Google+ will instead get an email--ostensibly with an invitation to join the party on Google+. It is a creative way to enable me to go ahead and create my Circles the way I want, while also setting up a sort of self-perpetuating marketing and growth for Google+.

Shop ▾
arrow up Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.

Subscribe to the Best of PCWorld Newsletter