After a redesign in April 2012, Google+ is gradually increasing its presence in the vast array of social media. One feature of the social network that stands out from other platforms are ‘Circles’.
What are the purpose of Circles?
Ultimately to organise people and share information with the relevant target audience. Google state that Circles help you organise your connections “according to your real–life social connections”, therefore enforcing the social aspect that some social media sometimes forget.
Google embrace simplicity, reflected in their latest redesign of G+. It is simple to search for people or brands then drag and drop them into the relevant Circles to group them as you wish. ‘Google is working hard to introduce new algorithms to match users based on friend connections and interests, ensuring that it can continue to boost engagement on its network.’ reported The Next Web.
Circles can allow businesses to specifically target content to the appropriate users. Therefore, in theory, people only see the information that is relevant to them and they aren’t exposed to irrelevant posts which could cause annoyance. This could be likely to increase the chances of sharing and interaction.
As well as sharing content with people in your Circles, the Circles themselves can also be shared. So, if you were to create a specific Circle containing news sources for a particular field, then this could be shared with another Circle of people who would be interested and find it of value.
Circles can also be used for businesses to display their employees publicly and to communicate with them. The employees Circle implies transparency online and can make the experience more personal for users.
Building Circles and being connected to a large number of other people’s Circles is one way to try and get your business profile ‘verified’. The advantage of this is that as usernames cannot currently be secured on Google+, duplicate pages can be created by anyone. If a page is verified then it demonstrates authority given from Google.
Targeting Circles effectively with interesting and engaging content can give people a reason to want to share and involve themselves, therefore boosting your profile. Integration with your website, blog, or other platforms can increase awareness and encourage users to add you to their Circles.
The introduction of the Facebook style cover image provides more of an opportunity to personalise your Google+ profile and make it more attractive so it catches the attention of passers by, possibly provoking interaction.
Earlier this year, Google launched “Search, Plus Your World”. When Google+ users are logged into their account then their Google search results will be enriched with relevant information shared on Google+ by their connections.
Each post on Google+ has the option to view its ‘ripples’, in other words how the post spread through the platform from user sharing and re-sharing. This assists in the identification of key influencers that you might wish to add to your circles and interact with.
Google+ Circles are an integral asset to the platform for building relationships, sharing information and improving transparency. For brands, building their Circles is one way to try and get their page verified, therefore increasing authenticity and making it easier for the page to be discovered.
Each time Google+ updates or redesigns, the usability and functionality improves. So what is next for the platform?