How to Better Manage Your Circles in Google+

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With the release of Google’s new “Community” feature on Google+, you can take a deep breath and stop trying to sort each and every person you come across into the right interest-based circle. The community function allows you to focus on not only who you are interested in, but what you are interested in. As communities begin to develop and mature and you continue to use them, you might find yourself spending less time managing your circles.

Photo By Leo Reynolds used under Creative Commons 2.0

Photo By Leo Reynolds used under Creative Commons 2.0

Communities take the guesswork out of circles.

Up until this week, you were charged with the task of keeping up with people on Google+ exclusively through circles. If you found someone that was also interested in Technology, you might have added them to your Tech circle, but realized they are also passionate about cats. You hate cats. Communities solves that problem. Sometimes we aren’t as interested in the people we interact with as we are interested in the topic at hand.

Now with communities, you can focus on conversations focused around topics that interest you and not just people that may have said something interesting at one point in time. No longer do you need to blindly create circles centered around topics in fear of “missing” something relevant. With communities, you can rely on quality curation of the content you’re really looking for.

So what should you do with all of those topical circles, or the random circle shares you added? Give them a rest. Go into the individual sliders and pull the volume down to ‘Mute.’ Give it a week or two. Notice a difference? Less noise? I guess you can live without that circle after all…

5,000 People, That’s It?

The notion of being able to “follow” 5,000 people is ridiculous and if you claim to be able to do it with any sort of consistency, then you have super-human powers. In fact, a study with Facebook users found that if you follow too many people, you might become unhappy.

“Among the group who read updates, the study revealed that having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives.” – Menshealth.com

When you look at the way you manage circles on Google+, ask yourself “Why did I follow these people?” Maybe you thought that keeping in touch with a group of people could lead to a new job. However, if you were following people just because you thought the picture they posted that one time was interesting, you are probably circling for the wrong reasons.

Today I chatted on the phone with Laurie DesAutels, a talent acquisition expert that specializes in connecting with people based on their skills and talent. “If I’m going to be interacting with 5,000 people in my circle, I’ve got to be kind of picky. I want it to be people that post regularly and people that I want to see in my timeline.”

She went on to say “It’s not all about quantity, it’s about quality.”

Use your circles to connect with the people that you care about.

Keeping your topical correspondence and your personal/business correspondence separate has just become that much easier. Focus less on strangers that only peak your interests 10% of the time and start focusing on the people you care about through your circles and the topics that interest you through communities.

Now that you have a degree of separation between relationships and interests, you should be able to better strengthen and develop your relationships while enjoying more relevant content centered around your topics of interest.

Give it a try, hit the mute button on your random circles and leave the Home stream to people you care about.

What do you think? Are Google+ Communities the best thing since sliced bread, or just another distraction? Will Communities help you turn down the noise and turn up the volume on the things you love?

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  • Bud Fields

    There are a few really good ideas here. Thanks for spending the thought and time to help new communities, and their users, make a bit more sense of the new opportunity.

    • http://www.petergmcdermott.com/ Peter G McDermott

      Bud, thanks for taking the time to read the post. I’m glad you found it useful and welcome any constructive criticism you have! I’ve made a commitment to myself to keep this site updated with some more consistent content in the near future. Stay tuned!

  • Jason Petefish

    It will be interesting to see how Communities changes the G+ culture. I agree that centering around Topics is a more meaningful way to interact with others versus centering around “people”, since Communities would gather people “around the table” with a common interest. That’s better than first gathering people around a table and saying “okay, what should we talk about?”.

    On the other hand, the [very] few “meaningful connections” I’ve made on g+ of course have been facilitated by G+’s original “random” people-centric method (vs. topic-centric). The idea of jumping into “people randomness” for the moment can be enjoyable, for the moment, and I’ve found some interesting folk this way.

    Alas, however, Communities I think will not lose that “randomness” culture that could take place inside the Topic-Driven method to connect. We all are curious perhaps to find meaningful connections with those “like-minded” (not more than 350 to your point, maybe more like 5 people tops is about all I could maintain).

    On the other hand, what can also be meaningful is to “discover” other people’s interests (Topics) as being something we might also find very interesting, and vise-versa, that jumping over to a Topic-centric culture only would mean I may choose not to join because the topic may not particularly be of interest, but I might find that some of the people behind the Topic may be interesting [to me].

    I would not necessarily like to see all of g+ migrate to a Topic-based culture entirely. After all, we are all people of the planet, and sometimes a person him or herself can be a “point of interest”, despite a common topic.

    …I think I’m making sense here, lol (??).

    • http://www.petergmcdermott.com/ Peter G McDermott

      You’re making sense and some great points as well. I think what is important to understand here is that we no longer have just the one large table, we now have many different sections that we can meet, greet and discover new people. Conversations can always be moved outside of a community, I think they offer a stronger method of discovery as most individuals are more inclined to develop relationships with people they share a common interest with. (I have no scientific study to back that up, just life experience.)

  • Pingback: Your Community Sucks and Here’s Why | Peter G McDermott

  • stephaniemanley

    Wow, that’s pretty amazing that the more facebook friends you have the less happy you are with your life.

  • Yves Goergen

    I’m missing the essence in your posting, sorry. I have circled a few people that I’ve found through taking part in events (here photowalks) or looking at other people’s circles or commenters. If somebody posts too much stuff that I’m not interested in, I also uncircle people or put them in a second topic-specific circle with a lower volume setting. (That’s a hack actually.) But I myself see the very problem. I have a lot of photographers circled and circled me. I’d like to start posting more on software development, a totally different topic. This will be irrelevant to many of my followers.

    So how can communities help me? Or them? Should there be one single community about all things photography? And another one on software development? What about different topics in them? I cannot relate so much with architecture photography. And I’ve got nothing to do with Perl or PowerShell programming. I’m seeing multiple communities of overlapping or similar topics showing up. Do I have to find them all and post my stuff to all (matching) of them? Also, the posts in communities are still a lot like in traditional web forums: lots of off-topic stuff. I can’t read all that. I hear very enthusiastic advertisement about communities everywhere these days, but I just don’t see it working. At least not yet. Nobody can provide a real example. It’s all theoretical.

    I’d still very much prefer my proposal to solve the problem I mentioned above: Aspects of an identity. I should be able to define rough topics that I post on, then optionally assign a topic to each of my posts. Everybody who circles me could then select the topics or aspects of me to subscribe to. If somebody only selects my photography aspect (or ignores my other aspect), they won’t get to see my latest C# musings. But since everybody interprets communities as a different approach on this problem, I’m not very confident that my proposal could be implemented anymore now.

  • Dale Jackson

    Hi Peter – really enjoyed the article thanks for sharing – I am relatively new to Google + and had found it a little difficult to navigate through to find “like minded” people but really think that with new communities it will help me connect knowing that there is already that area of common interest. Thanks for taking the time to share