+Jaana Nystrom

Welcome to my Circleverse!

Google+ is my passion: I want to help others to get the most out of it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Who sees your Google+ post?

Let's look closely at the whole posting on Google+ and how the posts are distributed.

One aspect of circles seems to be unclear to many:

Extended Circles

The definition of Extended Circles is "the people I circle and  the people who are circled by people who I circle."

The posts shared to extended circles don't necessarily appear on all those people's streams, but they get permission to see them if they visit your profile.

+John Skeats has written a good post about circles:

Testing the Google+ features

I do a lot of testing on Google+ and because my approach sometimes is a bit unorthodox, I call it "The Dumb Blonde Testing".  Trying to clear things up so that even I can easily understand the results, being a non-techie.
:-)  #JaanaResearch is the hash I use for these.

+mention someone in a post - private message

There has been some uncertainty what mentioning someone in a Google+ post actually does.
I did some tests with the help of +Michael Banks and +John Elstone and also my business Pages, here are the results:

If you wish to send a private message to someone, all you need to do is to type + and immediately start typing a name, attached to the + sign:  +Gplus Helper for instance. When you start typing, you get suggestions in a drop down menu, by clicking a name there you will get a hyperlink.  The first suggestions are from your circles.

Remember always to check the share box and see who is getting access to the post: Remove the Public (green) or Circles (blue) share indicators if necessary.

If you have problems in finding the right person to +mention, then you can go to their profile and copy the 21-digit number series from the web address or URL: +109164280656499025716 becomes a Plusmention in the published post.
The people with vanity URL's or short address only have the name instead of the number in their profile, but by clicking on a posts' time stamp and copying the link you'll see their number ID.

Sharing a post with someone

You can share or re-share a post, link photo etc. with the Public, circles, one circle, a person / page or a community.

Here is more about the Notifications 


Desktops: When you click on the grey "Google+ notifications" link under the bell, you can see the following tabs:
All posts, Your posts, Other people's posts and Mentions of you.

The difference between +mention in the posts' body or typing it in the share box as a +Share:

Shared a post with you:  When you type a name in the share box of the post, this is what the notification to the recipient says, sharing not being as personal as mentioning.
This post can be found under "Other people's posts".

Mentioned you in a post: When you +mention someone in the actual post body, the name also appears in the share box automatically and the notification says that you were mentioned.
This post can be found under the "Mentions of you" tab.

Sometimes a post can be found under both tabs.  The "Shared a post with you" can usually be found in "Other people's posts" if the original poster is not in your circles? Hmm. Interesting.

Both post types that we tested showed under +Mr. Jingles or the notification window and the All notifications stream.

It didn't matter if a post was also shared to Public simultaneously, the results are exactly the same.

In the images above and below,
Test 1 was private with the names +mentioned in the body of the post: Mentioned
Test 2 was shared to Public but I also +typed the recipients in the share box: Shared
Test 3 was shared to Public with the +mentioned names in the posts' body: Mentioned
Test 4 again private with the typed +names only in the share box: Shared

Please note: Who gets your notification also depends on the recipient's Google+ Account settings!

If the person has the settings "Who can send you notifications" on Circles only, no matter what type of +mention you make and you are NOT in their circles, they won't get a notification.

They'll only see the post you've given them access to if they happen to visit your profile.

Who sees the content you post in the stream?

Remember: Your public posts show also in the streams of all who have you in their circles, depending on their settings. No need to post limited unless you really don't want anyone not in your circles or  outside Google+ to see your content.

Public = Everyone
- who has circled you, looks at your profile, stumbles upon your content in Google+ search or elsewhere...  Even if you have blocked someone they still can see your public posts when they log out of Google+, use the Chrome Incognito mode or use a business Page to check your profile.

If you tick the Send also email to -box when sharing to Circles then your post is pushed to those people you are sharing the post with. This is very close to spamming, so be careful. Read more about this feature here.

When you share something, you can identify exactly who you want to send that content to by specifying specific circles or people. You can also choose to share with your extended circles or share publicly OR share to a Community. The people in your Communities won't be able to see your posts to circles unless they belong to those. The Community posts will show up in your own profile; The private groups' posts are only visible to the people in those Communities.  You can stop showing the community posts on your profile, from the Google+ settings.

When you post publicly, anyone can see your posts when visiting your profile.  Any people or pages who've added you to one of their circles will see your update in their stream unless the circle you're in is "muted", in which case they have to visit that circle's stream or your profile to see what you post about. 
The circlers have control over how much they see from any given circle by adjusting the visibility of each individual Circle, from the Home stream and by clicking on each circle name on top of the page and in the drop down. 

Your posts will be displayed on the Posts tab of your profile and are visible to anyone who you have granted the access to see them (Persons, circles, extended circles, Communities or public). If you share a post to your empty Later -circle, only you can see that post in your stream / profile. Still you can reshare your own posts to public even if they have been shared to a private community, circles or Drafts circle originally.

If someone else shares a limited post with you, that cannot be reshared in public.

Public posts may appear in search results. If your public post is very popular then it may appear on the What's Hot stream. Then anyone who has not muted that stream may see it in their Home stream.

What if I add or remove someone from a circle?

Adding someone to a circle lets them see also older posts which have been shared to that circle.
Removing someone from a circle: They cannot see any more posts even if those were shared when they were in that circle
There's an exception: Unless they have engaged with the post, for instance commented on it. Then they'll keep on seeing the post.


Some Community posts may also be shown in all the people's Home stream who belong to that community, depending on the settings.
For Control: You can choose different settings for each community from the community itself, there is no general place to do that.

Go to each community, click on the cogwheel on top of the profile pic, then choose "Show posts in Home stream": Fewer - Standard - More.

Or if you uncheck it, you won't see any posts from that community, so you need to visit it to catch up.

The posts you share in Communities will be seen on your profile page unless you disable the function:

- Private Communities posts will be seen only by those who belong to the same community 
- Public Communities posts can be seen by anyone taking a look at your profile

Community posts are a great way for people to see your different interests when they visit your Google+ profile. If you don't wish others to see your community posts when looking at your profile, disable them:

Simply visit the settings, look for the "Communities" section, and make your choice.

Remember that your private community posts will only be visible to people in those communities, regardless of whether or not you show community posts on your profile.

Posting to communities

Sharing a post to many communities is not possible, you must do it one community at a time.
Why?  Spamming and privacy.

Many people may belong to same communities around a topic and they are not happy if they see the same post in different communities simultaneously.

Spamming with a same post is a good way of getting banned from communities and perhaps even blocked by those people in them...

Share to a community, wait for a day or two and then share to another. Or better, create a new, slightly different post?

Again from +John Skeats about the privacy side for not being able to share posts to Public and communities at the same time:

There is a very good reason for the restriction: Communities are intended to be limited. Posts to private communities can only be seen by community members. Posts to public communities can be seen by anyone but only members of the community can comment on them. If you could cross-post to a community and people outside that community (which would happen if you could post to multiple communities), it would break the integrity of the community because people outside the community could see and comment on the posts. There have to be separate posts to maintain that integrity and, in the case of private communities, to protect the privacy of the community members.

Subscription circle:

If you wish to get notifications from a circle, click on the bell

Get notified by email or SMS:

Go to your settings on Google+ and choose how you'll get notifications:

Control the posts from your Circles and what you'll see in your Home stream:

Now there are 5 different levels how the posts from your Circles are showing in your Home stream:

- If the circle you're in is muted, then that person will not see your posts in their Home stream.
- If the "Red notification bell" is ON, then all the posts from that circle will notify the circle owner.

- "More, Standard and Fewer" should be self-explanatory.
- Un-ticking the "show posts in Home stream" mutes the Circle.

You can do the same for What's Hot and recommended tab:

Go to the What's Hot tab. Top right box next to the "What's Hot and recommended text:
Click on the cogwheel, uncheck the "Show posts in Home stream". 
(Does not necessarily show up in Single-column stream if stylized for wider posts).

Each of your Circles has its own: Go to Home page, top left you can see four of your circles displayed and more in the drop down. Click on a circle name, click on the settings and choose the volume for the circle.

From +Thomas Morffew here's a clarification:

The mapping (for Circle settings) is:

None -> None
Some -> Fewer
More -> Standard
All -> More

Despite the renaming, "More" is actually "Almost all." (Long story as to why this naming was chosen -- I would have preferred "All" myself) "All + Notifications" was changed to separate out the notifications into a separate control, so you could even have "None + Notifications" if you wanted. (And, in fact, some people did)

What it means in practice is that "more" means "take active measures to ensure that most of the posts make it;" "standard" means "normally send the posts through, unless there's a particular reason not to;" "fewer" means "limit how much of this stuff actually gets in;" and "none" means "none." However, that's an unofficial summary, and you shouldn't take it as representing an invariant which will be preserved in the future.

A tip: How you can see all the posts from your circles in chronological order

Search Google+ for /
Choose "From your circles"
From the blue bar click to "Most recent"

Now you see everything from your circles.  If you refresh the page, it goes back to the default "Everything" and "Best of", so you need to choose your circles and Most recent again.

If you have a post you'd like to be well spread also outside your circles, then it's time to think about how best to make the post searchable.

Keywords and hashtags are the obvious answer.

But also nice formatting of the post and the use of images will help to catch the eye of your 'audience' or circles and help with potential re-shares. More about formatting and images.

Using your own hashtag on posts and comments is a good thing: This way people can save that search and take a look at your posts even if they're not in your circles. Good way to promote your Communities, too.

Original post and all the comments are here.

I'd like to pick some tidbits from the comment thread:

"But it makes extended circles a bit weird. If I post to extended circles, the friends of my friends can see my posts, but only if they follow me (have me in their circles). How often does that happen? If I allow other people than my friends to read my post, then I post publicly. In what situations would you limit your post to extented circles?"
- +Riemer Thalen

Extended Circles = All the people who you have circled and all the people who they have circled etc...

RSS from Google+ feed

"I think of G+ as a blog with an RSS feed. People only see your posts if they subscribe to your RSS feed or stumble across you via a search. Sharing circles is posting your blogroll."
- +Doug Tyrrell

"The circles you post to basically are 'access rights'. So only people that are in the circles you post to can see that particular post. In case you post to "Your circles" that will be everyone in your circles now or later if you add them after you made the post."

"Note: if someone searches something or goes to your profile they only see your particular post if they have 'access' based on who you shared it with."
- +Tino Kremer

"I have always just assumed extended circles was pretty much worthless.. meaning you never really know who has who in their circles, so if a post isn't going to be "limited", then it might as well be "public".

I have also assumed that fewer people than you think will see your posts due to the nature of the G+ stream and how many people someone is following."
-+Bernard Katz

"I think current system works quite well.
1) Only people who follow you "can see" your public posts.
2) People who are in your circles "can see" your circles only posts.
3) People "subscribe" to your postings by following you."
- +Pasi Ääpälä

If they would look you up (your profile), it would make a difference how many posts they can see, based on whether you shared to circles or extended circles. This could in turn make a difference in whether they choose to circle you or not."
- +Hayo Jongbloed

My summary:

What an interesting discussion and great answers, thank you all!

It's important that we ponder about all things Google+, so that people will truly understand what it's all about.

Unless there is a reason to post to circles or extended circles, like privacy issues, not wanting to show up in search, niche topic or controversial subject; Then it's better to share in public. 

To grant an access for everyone. Remember, use #hashtags !

Here is a great image from +Philipp Steuer :  Post visibility simplified!

About Hashtags on Google+

For instance I use #jaanatip on my personal profile and #Plushelp from the +Gplus Expertise page (In Finnish #jaanavinkki from +Gplussa page) and try to remember adding those to posts about Google+ advice / etiquette etc. This way people can find more about the topic by clicking on the tag in the post.

Good example is #finlandinyourstream which I use for my posts about Finland.

Also for newcomers from your own country or language specific area it'd be nice to use the name of the country or language because that's a word a lot of newbies search for. Like #Suomi (Finland).

Other good hashtags are #googleplusupdate #googleplustips #chrometip

Now you can also post a weblink to all your hashtagged posts thanks to +Jari Huomo, like this

Just exchange my G+ ID and hash from the end of the URL with your own.

If you wish to get even more Google+ goodness in your email, subscribe to these:

EvanG+ list by +Guy Kawasaki
Google+ Helper webmag by +Jaana Nyström

My dear Circleverse; What do you think?

Would you like to add something?


  1. So... just to be clear... circles are definitely private entities unto themselves? A person from one circle can't see what's going on inside another circle? For example, let's say I like two people. But they can't stand each other so I keep them in different circles, and only post to the circles?

    1. Hi Dave;
      Exactly. If you wish your family to see something you post it to the circle the family members are in. You can temporarily also take someone out if Aunt Miriam doesn't need to know all. The stuff you share for the family is not visible to anyone else.

  2. Hi Jaana !

    I am thankful that I have seen your post. I wasn't on Gooogle+ at all, yet a year ago. I have noticed, that it is very important to structure people on Google+ accordingly to their interests ie. within the properly organized Circles.
    I have started to build the circles, and I had desire to structure people within my circles - both geograpphically (to know from which country or city they are coming, on the other hand it is important to keep division between cirles - based on interest of people in particular circles.

    Whe I started to build circles accordingly to Countries or Regions, it quickly resulted in the greater number of circles, but at the same time, I have noticed, that Google all the time tells me - what I have exceeded number of people in my cicres daily - which is not the truth. I Have heard that it is possible to add max 500 people daily - to our circles. On the othet hand - when I am adding only 10 - 20 peopple a day ( few structured peple -in particular circles) - i hear the same comment from Google. THat I have exceeded number of people and that I can't add
    more peopple today ?
    Do you know What am I doing wrong ?

    +Robert Lach

  3. That sounds strange , Robert.
    The lowest number for adding people in Circles I've found to be with Google+ Local pages, that's adding max 50 profiles in 24 hours.

    Moving people around in circles counts as "adds", perhaps that's why you get the notice?

    If the problem persists, please send Feedback to Google.


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