Circles are Google’s answer to the diverse social layer issue that is found in most online social networks. In the digital age we live in, we are constantly trying to simplify our lives. Although this is possible with menial tasks, such are paying our bills online or researching the next piece of camera gear we want to purchase, the various degrees of human interactions are far more complex.
A computer system cannot predict the organic and dynamic flow of a relationship over time. Life is not stagnant, but instead is dynamic—always changing and always moving forward. To accurately and effectively manage your interpersonal relationships online, you need control. You need choice. This is where the Google+ Circles feature steps in.
In this chapter, I’ll explain what circles are, how to use them, and how to organize them so that you can get the most out of your time on Google+.
What Are Circles?
As individuals, we are constantly interacting with a multitude of different types of people throughout life. On a given day you might pick up the phone and call a friend or a professional colleague, or maybe even a family member to share and receive specific information. Although you wouldn’t necessarily have the same conversation with all three, there might be some overlap. For example, in Figure 4.1, you might have three groups of individuals that you connect with on a regular basis: Friends, Clients, and Photographers. Even though Rose is a friend, she also happens to be a photographer. However, she is not one of your clients. So although you might share with her some personal information because she is a friend or ask her to go on a photography trip with you because she is a photographer, you would not send her the marketing newsletters that you send your past clients.
Figure 4.1 An example of the often complex interpersonal relationships we all have in our daily lives.
Interpersonal communication is rich, has depth, and is not always symmetric. Google+ addresses these complexities by allowing you to selectively gather those you want to connect with into various groups, otherwise known as circles. Circles are arguably the most important feature of Google+ you need to understand because they control how you communicate and connect with customers, clients, photographers, and everyone else on Google+.
How Do Circles Work?
Circles (Figure 4.2) act as filters for all content being shared on Google+. They allow you to control not only who you share your content with, but whose content you want to view as well.
Figure 4.2 A selection of my top Google+ circles containing people I connect with more frequently than others.
They function in a manner very similar to how lens filters work. For example, as photographers, we have the ability to filter out certain spectrums of light or even color with specific filters that we attach to our lenses. These tools give us more control over what we see and what we are capable of capturing with our cameras. Google+ circles work in the same way. You have the ability to create a circle that contains just your family members, your clients, or other local photographers. By doing so, you can then share content and information with just those individuals. On the flip side, you can utilize those same circles to filter out content, information, and media coming to you through Google+. If you want to only see what your clients, friends, or other local photographers are publishing, it is as simple as a mouse click (see Chapter 5).