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Warning by buggolo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  buggolo 

 

A couple of warnings

Since it is possible to set up a Google+ account without completing much of your profile, there is a greater chance of someone adding you to her circle without providing much information about herself. And there is no guarantee that the photo is of the person either. Both men and women have been using this to their advantage, luring others into their circles for less than honorable purposes.

I noticed an unusually large number of notifications that single men, very often listing themselves as widowed, with profile photos of what appeared to be high ranking U.S. military officers, had added me to their Google+ circles. MyGoogle+ advisor, also my brother-in-law, told me he often receives notices that women with very attractive photos have added him to their circles.

If I receive a notice that a man I do not know has added me to one of his circles and that man has not added anything to his profile – or if all that is listed is that he is looking for a friend or relationship – I block him from my Google+ account. I want to use Google+ to hear from people who have common interests, not as a match-making site. Don’t consider blocking Blocking someone ensures your content will not appear on that person’s stream nor that his or hers won’t appear on yours.

For more ideas on why it is appropriate to block users from Google+, check out this post from J.C. Kendall.

Advice About Circles

It isn’t necessary to add people to a circle, although that is the best way to ensure you can share content privately with only those you choose. It is possible to see others’ content by following a community or a collection. Or just checking on the items posted publicly. The three tips below

#1: Fill Your Google+ Circles

Not everyone in your larger circle of friends, coworkers, family, or colleagues will be interested in everything you want to share. By setting up circles and placing people with a common interest in each one, you can post items only for those people you feel will be interested.

Circles are what make Google+ different from other social media platforms where whatever you post will appear in the stream of everyone who follows you (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter) or to all your friends (Facebook) or connections (LinkedIn). Unlike Facebook which offers a variety of ways for you to set up your privacy settings so that you limit who can see your posts, but everyone among your friends are treated the same, Google+ allows you to post publicly so anyone can see your posts, or to collections or communities where they are visible to those who follow them, and Google+ also allows you to post to a circle so that only those in the circle can see.

Google+ has four default circles: Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and Following. You can use or delete them and add your own circles. The challenge is deciding how to  name them – by city or region, by interests, by organization, or by ?  The good news is that individuals can be assigned to multiple circles so your uncle from San Francisco who writes poetry can be assigned to your Family, Writing, and California circles.

Start by looking at public posts and decide how you will categorize them. Then begin assigning your contacts to the Circle or Circles that fit.

#2: Filter What You See by Circle

Once you have created circles and assigned people to them, you can view all the posts assigned to a specific circle. The top of your Google+ page will show options for All, for three of your circles, More, which opens a drop down menu of all the rest of your circles, Mentions, and Explore. See below.

Google+ top menu

If you select one of the circles from the drop down menu under More, it will replace one of the three labels for your circles. See below.

Google+ More drop down menu

Explore shows topics and hash tags that are trending on Google+. See below.

Google+ View of Explore option

With circles created and contacts assigned, begin posting targeted messages for each group.

#3: Target Your Circles

From a marketing point of view, targeting specific individuals with specific content is ideal. A message targeted at those who haven’t read your books may not resonate with those who have read it. Instead of choosing between the two, set up two circles and prepare one message for those who have read your books or taken your classes and one for prospective buyers or students. It is also possible that potential buyers are not necessarily potential readers. For example, it is more likely that women will buy Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul as gifts for husbands, fathers, sons or other men in their lives than that men will buy it for themselves. If buyers of your books are likely to give them as gifts, craft a message targeted using that purpose.

Once you begin thinking of how multiple messages should be targeted at different audiences, go back to your circles to see if you need new ones and if your contacts need to be assigned to different or additional circles.

For more information about how to use Google+ Circles more effectively, check out this post from Social Media Examiner.