Exploring Circles

One of the intriguing aspects of Google Plus is the concepts of circles.  They’re designed to allow you to target your messages and posts to specific groups.  Yesterday, I tried my luck with a two part blog post on Google Plus to first of all see what it would look like and secondly if the circles do truly allow you to control who reads the messages.  In schools that are protective of student blogging, I see this as a way of addressing the reach of messages.

The first message was intended to be open to the general reading public.  I knew where it was headed since I wrote the post but how does the reader know?  If you look at the title bare, it was posted at 4:42 with me further editing it at 5:01.  The key, though, is the word public which lets everyone know who can read the message.

The second post was an attempt on my part to make a post available only to a small group of people.  It appears as:

Geesh.  Can this guy not get it right the first time?  Anyway, you’ll noticed that this message is flagged limited.  That would imply that not as many people can read it.  That is true.  If you click on the word Limited, you see that the message is available only to:

You may well recognize some of the avatars.  Many people are reusing their personna from other services.  So, this little experiment actually did work as I thought it might.  I did receive a few messages from folks who indicated that they could read the first message but not the second one.

As you post a message, the option to share appears in a banner under the message.  You can share your message with the various groups that you have defined.  I’m going slowly creating groups with Google Plus but have defined the following groups.

As you can see, I could have one or a few of these circles as the target audience for my post.  That lets me funnel the audience from "public" to the smaller collection of readers.  The public setting does give me a full URL so that I could make reference to a message/post anywhere I wish.

There is one final option.  This is the equivalent of the "Friend of a Friend" setting.  In this case, my friends have friends and my use of the setting extends to them.  Google Plus calls this "Extended Circles" and thankfully colour it a little differently so that presumably you don’t accidentally spread your good words too far.

You’ll want to use this one judiciously.  Provided your friends choose their friends wisely, it could be an excellent way to spread a message.  It could also have undesirable effects so you’ll want to be careful.

When you get your Google Plus account, you get some suggested circles but go ahead and create some more of your own according to your needs.  Mixing and matching, going public or using extended circles does give you a great deal of options other than just posting once and having it available to everyone.

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