NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More than 10 million users have jumped on the Google+ bandwagon since the site launched two weeks ago, and that number will likely only continue to skyrocket in the coming weeks and months. For many, the allure of the site can be explained in one simple word: circles.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ users can organize their connections into groups called circles, sharing content with some circles but not others. In that way the user can exercise greater control over who sees their posts.
The default options Google+ offers include circles named “friends,” “family” and “following,” but some Google+ users have thought of some creative circles to help manage their online lifestyle, ranging from silly to incredibly useful.
One of our favorites, which was originally suggested in the unofficial Google+ user manual compiled by 120 people with accounts, is to create a circle called “Read Later” and add only yourself to it. This way, whenever you come across an article on the Web you’d like to bookmark for later, you can just post it quickly on Google+ and share it with that circle. Only you will be able to see the post, and when you click on that circle, you’ll see every article you’ve bookmarked.
In a discussion on Google+ about how businesses and websites can best use the service, Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, offered one innovative idea: create a circle for loyal customers. Essentially, businesses could reward their most engaged customers by adding them to this circle and sharing special deals and announcements with only them. It costs the company nothing to implement and provides an incentive for customers to stay loyal and engaged with the brand.
According to the unofficial Google+ manual, users can tweak their feed by placing an asterisk in front of a circle name, making posts from those in that group default to the top of your news feed. With that in mind, you might create a group called *Inner Circle that features your closest friends and contacts, so you are guaranteed never to miss their updates from day to day.
One circle I’ve found to be particularly useful is the oversharers group, where I place interesting people I’m connected to who generally dominate my news feed by posting too much. By placing them in one group, it’s that much easier to filter out their posts from the rest of the feed.
If none of the circles above strike your fancy, you might follow the advice of Tim Carmody, a writer for Wired, offered on his Google+ page, and adopt some Lord of the Rings terminology to organize your connections. Carmody breaks it down as follows: “Hobbits” for your family and old friends, “Elves” for people you look up to, “Dwarves” for people you work with and “Orcs and Trolls” for people you hate. It might sound silly (it is), but the beauty of Google+ is that you can customize it however you want.
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