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.
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.
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+.
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+.