What are Google Circles and how do I use them?

Google’s social platform, Google+, has a feature called “Circles” that allows users to put various different people in specific groupings or lists.

This feature is intended to:

  • Share relevant content with the right people
  • Follow content posted by people you find interesting

Why Circles are private

No one in a circle can see who else is in the circle. They also don’t know what you’ve names the circle, or how many other people are in it.

This makes sense when you think about the real life “private circles” we all have in our minds:

  • People we look up to
  • Our closest friends
  • Potential project partners
  • Crushes ­čÖé

The people in these circles usually don’t know they’re in the circle. Some might eventually know (potential project partner becomes project partner), or they may never know (crushes).

Circles are not Groups

Jeremiah Owyang wrote an informative post on Google plus, but I have to disagree with his comment about Circles being a newer version of Google Groups (I can’t image Google not eventually adding Groups into the Plus mix).

Groups are very different from circles in three important ways:

  1. All Group members know the name of the group
  2. All Group members know the purpose of the group
  3. All members know who’s in the Group

A more accurate comparison to Circles would be Facebook friends lists, or private Twitter lists. People you add to Circles have no idea what you’ve named the Circle/List. See how Ross Mayfield visually explains Circles in a series of slides.

How to see who a post was shared with

If a post was shared only with specific people or circles, you’ll see “Limited” in top right of the post. When you click on that, you can see the total number of people who received the post. This doesn’t tell you what Circles people are in because posts can be shared with multiple Circles, and even combinations of Circles and individual people.

How to add other users who commented on a post

To add users mentioned in a post, all you have to do is over over their avatar. You’ll see their name, a short blurb (usually where they work), which of your circles they belong to (if any). Additionally, you’ll see “Add to

How to change the order of my Circles

This tip from David Svet: To rearrage the order of your Circles, use your space bar: 1 space for some, 2 for others, 3 for some.

For more basics on using Google Plus, see this video.

What do you think of Google Plus so far?

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