When I started using G+ I didn’t get it.
I had more than a few questions, like – why do I want another social media platform? What am I supposed to do with these circle thingies? How do I meet people? I don’t know anyone over here. I feel like the new girl on the first day of school.
You’re asking those too? Look at that. You are totally normal.
But do you want to learn how to be awesome?
The truth is you don’t really need another social media platform, no one does, but Google+ is a an amazing entity once you get the hang of it. It’s definitely worth your time.
It has useful content, go figure, and the expertise level is lightyears ahead of other platforms. Where some social media sites are used to show off what you’ve got on the outside, your pouty face, your dream kitchen, your dinner, G+ shows off your brain. It is populated by some amazing minds and they are sharing what they know, not just what they want you to see. You can find answers for anything on G+. Try doing that on Facebook.
Basically, G+ is where smart people go to get social.
Now about these circles. I know. They are a bit strange and to the discredit of G+, it has taken me way too long to figure out how to circles well. However, I recently unlocked the door on them and it opened up a whole can of awesome for me on this platform.
Circles are where you put people you follow on G+. I’ve read a whole bunch of articles on using and organizing them. Some are good. Some, not so much. I’ve also tried several variations that the “experts” have suggested and they were just about average in effectiveness. So what’s a girl to do?
The secret is, treat it like shopping. What else?
Circles are like stores in a shopping mall. You can stand in the middle of the mall and see the goods in all the stores but you can’t see them very well and after a while it just gets to be overwhelming. You need to visit each store to see what you like and what you don’t.
Set up your circles like stores based on your interests, personality, and learning style.
If you like technology, blogging, knitting, and current events, you should have circles that reflect those interests.
You might have a tech circle, a few for blogging – depending on how many bloggers you follow and how much you want to see of their posts, a circle with your favorite knitters and their projects, and a news circle to keep you up to date on the latest developments around the world.
A blog circle can get really big, really fast. The key is to make them hierarchical. Take me for example. I follow a lot of bloggers on G+, but it can get out of hand quickly, so I have 3 groups. The first is the people from whom I don’t want to miss a post. The second is people I want to keep up with but I might not want to see every single post. The third is new bloggers I am discovering and people I want to support, but not feel obligated to read all the time.
CIRCLE TIP #1: Do not make your main interest circles too large. Keep them small with 10-20 people or companies in them.
If you are an extrovert, like me, you will probably have a lot of circles with a lot of people in them. You like the interaction and the fast pace of information, so this is a good way to keep up with what’s going on on G+. These circles can be filled with your friends, family, college buddies, and anyone else who fits into a group. Put the people you like into a circle and keep them organized.
If, however, you are an introvert, too much is always too much. So you will want to create a few circles with just a few engaged people in them. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed while still allowing you to see what’s going on on G+. Narrow your focus with your circles and don’t feel like you have to follow everyone. It will only work against you in the long run.
If as an introvert you are feeling the pressure to be more inclusive than you are comfortable with, make a couple of big groups that you check infrequently. Remember, only you know where people have been circled. No one can see this but you.
CIRCLE TIP #2: Organize your circles according to your personality. No one can see them but you.
3. LEARNING STYLE
One of the best features of G+ is your ability to set up circles that grow your mind. If you are interested in SEO, build a circle and fill it with people who talk about SEO. If you are newly gluten free, create a circle for GF bloggers. If you like graphics or random articles from around the web, build a suitable circle.
Circles are not permanent. You can create them for a time and then delete them. You can put a person in more than one circle. You can move people around as you get to know them. It’s fluid and it’s all under your control.
I have a circle for people I don’t really know (yet). As I interact with them I move them to an appropriate circle. I don’t even have to check that circle, I can be picky and only move them if we have contact in some way, a +1 or a comment or as they interact with things or people I like.
Use circles to your advantage. Use them to increase your knowledge and your network. Make your circles work for you and you’ll get way more out of G+ than if you treat it like any of the other platforms you are used to.
CIRCLE TIP #3: With G+ you go get the information you want, you don’t wait for it to come to you. Make them work for you.
Let’s look at this shopping mall idea again. When you head to the mall you either have a reason for your visit or you just want to browse, or both. Treat your circles the same way.
Here’s how I “shop.” I go to G+, the mall. I visit my circles to see what’s happening, stores. Some stores I visit right away because they are my favorites and I always go there, no matter what. These are my key INTEREST circles. Some stores I just browse in to see what’s new, my PERSONALITY circles. Some stores I know I need to visit for a particular product and I know they have it in stock, my LEARNING circles.
★Now here’s the real bonus★
G+ circles make social media more efficient and less time consuming. Remember when I said it’s where smart people go to get social? It’s not just because the content is so good. It’s also because you can use your time wisely.
When you set up your circles the right way, you can visit G+, check out some or all of your circles, see what’s happening and move on. It doesn’t have to suck time and energy out of your day.
When you make circles work for you, they are curating information and ideas while you are away. You then come back, click the circle, glean the info and you’re off.
Hello? How awesome does that make you? Now you are someone who uses their time wisely, gets the information they need and moves on. I’d say that makes you pretty darn awesome.
No other platform does this quite so well. So, get over to Google+ and start being rad.
Organize your circles. Remember, make them work for you. If you have questions, leave a comment, or come visit me on Google+. When you get the circle part right, all the other parts fall into place and G+ will quickly become your go-to site for information you need and can really use.
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