How to Sort and Manage Circles in Google+

Google+ is quickly becoming quite noisy. Social media strategist Jesse Stay blogged recently about how burdensome the constant notifications from Google+ can become, especially if you follow people like Chris. While I’m used to the constant firings of random blog posts, links, images and videos from him (you should honestly consider yourself lucky if you don’t have him in your Google Chat list), many others consider his posts and the barrage of comments that follow too much to handle. If you follow Chris, or people like him (such as Robert Scoble), you may want to reduce this noise factor. As more and more of your friends, colleagues, and favorite bloggers join Google+, this may also make your Google+ stream noisy, too. To make Google+ easier to read, here’s how you can sort and manage your circles in Google+ to control the flow of information.

When you first join Google+, you can navigate to your Circles page to see who is in your circles, people who have added you to circles, and the link to find and invite people to Google+. This last link will show you people you may know on Google+, based on your contact list. If you use Gmail, this list will be imported from the contact list you maintain in Gmail. You can also import your contact list from Yahoo!, which is also a useful way to import contact information from your friends in Facebook. You can click on each name, even multiple names at a time, to add them to circles, which are groups of contacts. These circles are the heart and soul of Google+ privacy. When you share an update, you can choose which circle or circles can see what you share. (There is also an option to default what you share to public, too.) Google+ starts you off with a few circles, but you should feel free to micromanage circles and create as many specific sets of people as possible. This is beneficial not only to really control who reads your Google+ updates, but these Circles also act as lists for you to read, such as in Twitter or Facebook. If you only want to read updates from your family, you can create a family circle and click on that stream on the Google homepage to only see updates from your parents or little sister — granted, they share those updates with you.

Manage circles on Google Plus

If you’re still finding the amount of conversation on Google+ overwhelming after sorting and micromanaging your circles, Jesse mentioned a few tips and tricks suggesting how to control what notifications you receive via email that could be helpful. Visit your Google+ settings by clicking on the gear icon in the top right corner and making a few adjustments to your email notifications. You will want to uncheck Comments on a post after I comment on it and Comments on a post I created to start with. You may also want to uncheck any of the other notifications you may not care about. Alternatively, you could create a filter in Gmail to direct all Google+ emails away from the inbox so you can read them at your convenience. To do this, just check the box of a Google+ email in your inbox, and then click More at the top of your Inbox. Select Filter messages like these, and then click Next step on the next screen, unless you want to add additional criteria to your filter besides the From field. Then, choose Skip the inbox and Apply a label — you may want to create a new one. (I called mine “Google+.” Creative, I know.) Finally, check the box Also apply filter to ## conversations below and click Create filter.

Managing your Circles on Google+, and controlling your email notifications from Google+, are both helpful ways to control the noise level on Google+ so you can actually read and respond to others. If you have any other tips and tricks for managing your activity on Google+, leave a comment and let us know.