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JANUARY 2015 - Social Media
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Social Media 101: Google+

by Reg Levy

This article will cover Google+, the last of the “main” social media networks. In a lot of ways, Google+ is similar to Facebook, which was previously covered, but with some notable differences.

Circles: Venn Diagrams for Your Online Life

Google+ sorts your contacts into circles (Friends, Family, and Acquaintances are the circles you start with) and, although this functionality is available with Facebook, with Google+, it’s automatic. As soon as you attempt to connect to someone, it asks you what circle they belong in—and they can be put into multiple circles. A friend you met in law school who is now a family lawyer might be in “Friends,” “Law School,” “Family Law,” and “Baking Recipes.” Your circles are fully customizable.

When you share a post on Google+, you choose what circles you share it with—your holiday spice bread recipe might be shared only with your Baking Recipes circle, but your new year’s wishes might be “Public.” (“Public” will allow it to be seen, not just in all of your circles, but by anyone online.)

Non-Reciprocity

Google+ is like Twitter in that someone can be in your circle without you being in theirs. You can follow posts that people make public without having to share anything with them. This is helpful for following businesses—you may well want to see all the updates of a company or group without that company or group seeing any of yours.

If you’re using Google+ to promote your company, sharing your updates publicly means that anyone can find and follow you. Because of the extremely granular control, you can also share updates just with current clients or just with potential clients.

Sharing Others’ Updates

Because of the granular control of updates, if you choose to share an update that a contact shared only with a few of their circles, you will get a warning to respect their privacy. If you choose to share it anyway, their name continues to be attached to it. Something to keep in mind if you share things privately.

How Google+ Fits Into Your Social Media Strategy

Google+ combines the ability to share private moments with friends and family with the ability to share public updates with potential clients and work contacts. Because of the ease—and requirement—of separating contacts into circles as soon as you add them, Google+ encourages a focus on audience. You are required to think about who you want to share an update with every time you post one. For someone just starting out on social media, this can be a very helpful focus, making Google+ a good place to start.

Google+ also lends itself to public updates for companies and groups that want to promote themselves. A public update to promote your business or firm can easily be shared by those who follow your updates, boosting your signale.


Reg Levy is the WLALA Website Committee Chair.  She is VP of Compliance + Policy at Minds + Machine.

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