Have you discovered Google Plus yet? The more I learn about Google Plus the more excited I am about its potential. I ran a two-hour “Google Plus For Business” Workshop and hosted the “Rock Your Marketing” Google Hangout last week and one area that raised lots of questions is circles.
Google Plus is not like the social media platforms
Google Plus is much more than just another social media platform. It’s the “new Google” and the glue that ties social search together. Google have done an amazing job of bringing all their free tools and services under one umbrella so your gmail address is the central connection to your Google Plus account, Google calendar, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Local, YouTube, and much more!
With Circles you can effectively build your business by using Google Plus for targeted promotions and tailoring the information you share, and receive.
This ability to target information is crucial to the quality of Google Plus. Unlike the other social media platforms where everything is posted to everyone (although only a small percentage of your friends and fans see your posts), with Google Plus you use circles to segment your contacts, and the information you share.
How Do Circles Work?
It’s probably easiest to show you as circles can be hard to explain, but they make sense when you start using them.
Getting Started With Circles
When you’re just starting out, you will have 4 pre-created circles that you can edit or delete. Google will also suggest people to add to your circles based on the contact lists from your Gmail, Android and other Google services and products that you’re a part of.
You may want to edit the titles of your existing circles before adding people, so you can easily categorize your contacts. To edit one of Google plus’s default circles, double-click on it to open its panel.
A pop up window will appear that contains the circle’s name, a brief description, and a snapshot of who you’ve added to the circle.
Click on the + to create a new circle or click on a circle to see who’s in it. Then you can drag and drop into other circles, edit the circle name, remove people from circles or delete the circle.
Your circle strategy will evolve as you get familiar with Google Plus but it’s totally flexible and easily updated.
Once you’ve started engaging on Google Plus, you can build your circles using the “People” tab to find contacts and drag and drop them into your circles.
You can have as many circles as you like and it’s a good idea to organise your circles based on the information you want to share. Think about how you might want to segment your contacts. Perhaps based on where they’re located, so you would invite local contacts to live workshops or 1-2-1 sessions; or customers (share special offers and members’ content), prospects (share your best blog posts and ezine updates), or friends and family.
And a great tip is to create a circle of influencers. If you’re working your circles strategically to build your business you should focus on circling the people you want to learn from.
The Secret To Building Circles
The key to building circles is not to focus on the numbers but on the relationships you have with the people you circle. Actively engage with people you want to learn from by circling them, engaging them in conversation, sharing their relevant posts with your communities and circles, leaving thoughtful comments, +1 their content. By engaging, and sharing relevant, helpful content you’ll get yourself noticed, and build great relationships.
Unlike Twitter where you follow as many people as possible in the hope that a certain percentage of them will follow you back, with Google Plus, it’s about quality rather than quantity.
So only circle people you look up to, and want to learn from. Then you can share their updates and cutting-edge content with your followers (who hopefully will be circling you because you’re sharing such good stuff!).
Growing Your Circle Following
Focus on providing value and building strong relationships and your circles will grow as people get to know you and like what you share and how you add value. And focus on long-term, quality, relationships, rather than for lead generation or just to promote a product.
Spam and promotional posts do not go down well on Google Plus. People are there to connect, build relationships and grow their businesses, not to make a quick buck. One thing I love about Google Plus is the community’s intolerance of junk, which keeps the calibre of content and interactions high.
Another Handy Way To Add People To Circles
Simply hover over someone’s name and your list of circles pops up. Click on the circle(s) to add your new contact. This applies whether you’re in a community, your home stream or receiving notifications.
Decide Who Sees What You Share
What’s exciting about circles is that they determine the updates you see in your newsfeed. As you can see from the screen below, I have streams for each of my circles and can choose which stream I want to receive information from (you can also change your notifications to control how much content you receive from each stream).
Similar to Feedly I can choose to receive updates from specific people or groups. For example, if I want to see what my Women Unlimited contacts are sharing (or check when my article is being promoted!) I would click on the Women Unlimited circle.
Circles make sharing easy
When you’re sharing content you can choose whether to share with the public (everyone sees what you post), or just to specific circles or communities.
This is VERY powerful, because instead of posting an update as you would on Facebook or Twitter to your entire following, you can create content around specific audiences, which gives you the opportunity to connect in a very different, and far more personalized way. It’s social segmenting at its best!
Google plus is not a replacement for an email list like Aweber or Mailchimp, but it does have its benefits and can be used for very targeted and effective communications. It’s a great business tool.
Your action assignment from this article is to begin creating a handful of circles, each one categorized by the people you’re in contact with. And do connect with me (Cassie Hicks Kerr) directly or through the rapidly growing MMSpark community.