how i found my place at G+ ...
? ?
and how i get exactly what i want out of the platform ...

» ?#@!!%, it doesn't work ...
i bet there are many of you out there right now who think that #googleplus is a #ghosttown ... most of the time that is, because you don't seem to get anything (or very little) out of the platform ... you write posts, re-share those of others, find funny pictures on the internet, engage and do all the other things you read in various #guides and how-to-be-successful-on-google+ #tutorials you can find all over the internet and G+ itself ... still, you might as well write a diary that you only read yourself, for all the response you get from the community for your efforts ... you don't understand it and envy those who seem to effortlessly collect tens of thousand of followers and get 100 comments and 200 +1s per post ... you might be at a point where you feel like quitting G+ for good and heading back to the other large social network ... don't give up just as yet! ...

» you are not alone ...
i was at the same point you are now ... my +CircleCount stats used to look like this ...

0 comments per posting
0 reshares per posting
1 +1's per posting
(those numbers are from before february)

now they look like this ...

11 comments per posting
1 reshares per posting
6 +1's per posting
(those numbers are from the 18/04/2012)

i've learned how to get exactly what i want out of G+ and i'm sure that you can do that too ... but please don't expect a tutorial that will guide you through all the steps ... i don't have one ... the articles and posts i have collected under the unique hashtag #jgguides might be of some help, but in the end there is only one way that'll work for you ... your way! ...

i've been wanting to write this post for a long time and never had the balls to do so ... why now? ...

» everybody is an expert for what is best for him ...
i just read a post by +Visnja Zeljeznjak explaining that many people feel they don't have the expertise to write about something and therefore choose not to (http://bit.ly/HRHBQ0) ... even people who are generally considered experts in their field sometimes feel like that, as this article by +Scott Hanselman (former professor, now speaker, consultant and microsoft employee) shows (http://bit.ly/HRHxzP) ... i'm one of those too ... not one of the experts ... one of those who feel inadequate ...

i'm no #expert for G+, but i am an expert in how to make G+ work for me ... nobody knows that better than i do, because i'm the only one who knows exactly what i want to get out of the network ... i won't tell you, what you have to do to make G+ work for you, but maybe you will benefit from me telling my story and that is why i decided to write this post now ...

» this is my story ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
how it all started | i needed a break | what i was doing then | what i'm doing now ...

how it all started ...
obviously, when i first came to G+ i didn't know at all what to expect ... it was invite-only then and i got my invitation from an old friend of mine by the name of +Lars Mueller with whom i stay in contact via facebook ... he couldn't tell me anything about the then brand-new platform either, because he is a busy man and hadn't had the time yet to get into it ... i was then becoming increasingly annoyed with facebook and decided to give G+ a try ...

i read everything i could find about how to start and wasn't afraid to ask for help either ... i quickly got the hang of #hangouts (no pun intended) and found incredibly helpful people there ... i gained more followers in the first 2-3 months on G+, than i collected on facebook in two years! ... i was quite happy for some time, but then i fell into the ghost town hole ...

i needed a break ...
for all i posted on G+, the response was rather poor ... nobody seemed to be interested in what i was writing ... it seemed to me, like i was the only one who was reading my posts ... i fell into a G+ crisis ... my fall was made all the more terrible by the fact that i had been so enthusiastic about the platform before ... i had to do something or i'd quit G+ for good ...

i took a leave of absence ... i wanted to find out first, if i'd miss it and i really needed to reorder my thoughts, rethink my approach ... i was obviously doing something wrong ... the posts of others were read and interacted with here, so there was no reason, why mine shouldn't be ... i'm not one of those who start whining huuaah ... G+ is a ghost town because i don't get interaction ... if others are successful it means that i am doing something wrong! ... even if of the more than 100.000.000 G+ members there'd be only one person who got response to his posts, that would be enough for me ... that would mean, that the other 99.999.999 (incl. me) were doing it wrong ...

what i was doing then ...
so, first i analysed, what i was currently doing ...

? posting: i realised, that i was all over the place with my posts ... you see, i tried to please as many people as possible with my ramblings ... i wanted (no, i needed) to be accepted by the #community ... i spend hours on the internet, searching for articles, that i thought might interest the people here ... i posted 4-5 (or even more) times a day, every posts about another subject and usually all together ... i took the advise of some successful peeps here and always added my own take on the story, but that didn't seem to make any difference either ... so, i read through my own stream and tried to figure out, what it would look like to somebody else and if that person would find it worth reading ...

and it wasn't! ... i put myself in somebody else's shoes and realised, that because of me writing about so many subjects, there was too much noise ... sure, if somebody was interested in G+ related subjects, he'd get at least one post a day on that from me, but he'd also get at least 3-4 posts that wouldn't interest him ... also most subjects i wrote about were not what i was interested in or knowledgeable about ... they were what i thought the community would be interested in ... i added my own opinions to the article, but they were not usually based on any expertise ...

i realised that i added a lot of needless noise to the streams of my followers, further "improved" by my senseless babbling ... i'm surprised some stuck with me as long as the did! ...

? interaction: all this posting had a negative side effect too ... i didn't have time anymore to read through my own stream, which meant i rarely interacted with the posts of others and my own enjoyment of G+ was greatly diminished ...

? circling: i had a V.I.P. circle (the one i read daily) of more than 250 peeps ... who is supposed to follow that many? ... dunbar's number suggests that it's viable to maintain between 100 and 230 stable social relationships, with a commonly used value of 150 [sourse: wikipedia http://bit.ly/J41BIZ] ... i also had other subject based circles i would've liked to follow,but there was no time for that ... i could hardly keep up with my important one ...

what i'm doing now ...
i did a 180° turn ...

? circling: first i did some spring cleaning in my circles ... i sacked quite a few people completely (and lost some good ones accidentally), but the most important step was, to reduce my V.I.P. circle ... i now maintain it constantly under 100 ... with the sliders of some other circles set to minimum i still get the posts of about 150 peeps in my daily stream ...

second i decided to care less about my "success" and more about what i wanted to get out of the network ... i decided to make G+ more enjoyable for me rather than try and make it enjoyable for my followers ... as bill cosby said ...

i don't know the recipe for success, but the recipe for failure is trying to please everybody ...

? posting: so, i reduced the number of my daily posts by at least half ... i decided to write about what i am interested in and only that ... i still write some posts about G+ (because i still love it), but generally i leave that to much more knowledgeable peeps like +Denis Labelle +Rahul Roy +Shamil Weerakoon and others ... i now write mainly about #formula1 , a subject that is a passion of mine, but which i completely neglected before ... i like cooking, sci-fi and fantasy movies and book, gadgets and future technology so i add the occasional posts about those subjects too, but all in small measures ... my followers now find far less noise in my stream ... they now know, what to expect from me ... also, because i'm now writing what interests me most and what i'm reasonably knowledgeable about, i increasingly enjoy joining in discussions about my posts and i can make informed comments ...

? interaction: because of my reduced posting i suddenly found myself with some spare time on my hands ... i'm using that now to read through my own stream ... due to the fact, that the size of that is reduced significantly too, i can spend more attention on each post and i have time to write some comments and even get into lengthier discussions if i feel so inclined ... the effect was, that i began to enjoy G+ much more again and with that interaction i suddenly seemed to catch the attention of my peers and people started to interact more with me too ... i noticed a surge in my follower count too ... i found myself in some well curated shared circles and collected followers who are really interested in what i have to say and interact with me ...

» summary ...
i found my place at G+ ... sometimes less is more ... less posting, less following, that was the recipe for me ... quality over quantity ... i'm now having interesting discussions about what i post with my fellow plussers ... one of my posts reached more than 100 comments the other day and all of them meaningful and inspiring ... even if you just go by stats and numbers people interact far more with me now ... regarding my followers i now attract more people who are interested in what i have to say ... less in total maybe, granted, but more relevant ones ...

as you can see, just like bill cosby i don't have the recipe for success either, but what i do now works for me ... you will have to find your own way, but maybe this post helped you a bit ... thank you for reading it! ... please fell free to let me know your take on it and of course share it on! ... my ramblings might be of benefit for some of your followers, who would otherwise miss it ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

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i think my brain is growing

the effect #googleplus has on me ...

» i'm turning into a genius (sort of) ...
due to the stimulating influence of G+ my mental faculties seem to take a turn for the better ... after 9 month of continuous exposure to #greatminds here at the network i feel more alert, can concentrate better and am more open to other people's points of view and ideas ...

» an unexpected discovery ...
yesterday i wrote a little post about the threat the internet is facing according to +Sergey Brin (http://bit.ly/HXawzo) ... this post had an unexpected effect ... it started a fascinating and highly interesting thread with +ers discussing the matter from all kind of different points of view ... clever people like +Eli Fennell +Thorben Groth +Surbjit Singh and +Paul Brown started the thread off, until i suggested that everybody invites 3 of his own peeps to the discussion ... suddenly we had a thread fire! ... +Patrick Sharpe +Bret P Hooyman +Brian Titus +Walter H Groth +Jeff Jockisch +James Pakele +John Kellden +Peter Strempel +Jeff Sayre +Jeanne-Nicole Henderson and +Phillip Hagger joined in and the discussion got really intellectual ... that is when i realised, that #google + has had an interesting effect on my #brain ... it seems to grow! ...

» google+ is good for you ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
we are our environment | i have the mother of all ADDs | G+ changed me | ...

? we are our environment ...
we all understand, that we are shaped by our environment ... no, i don't mean hideous mutations, caused by pollution, but our behaviors, attitudes and intellect all adjust to what is asked of them ... we adapt, for the better or the worse ... just like kindergarten teachers tend to speak to everybody else as if they were small children, a continuous exposure to highly intellectual conversations will have an effect on you too ... G+ is known for bringing forward great discussions ... compared to the other large social network where comments usually look like this ...

wow! ...
great post! ...
u r a ?! ...

G+ers seem to put real thought into their comments and almost always make it worthwhile reading through a thread ... one can encounter great minds here, who discuss matters rationally and with mind boggling expertise ... if you join in and participate in that great community, it is bound to leave its mark on you ...

? i have the mother of all ADDs ...
i have an extremely short attention span ... i can't concentrate for longer than 5-10 minutes, before my mind starts to wander ... usually doing something else for a minute or two gets me back on track ... i love reading ... i read sci-fi and fantasy books all the time, but even if i have a book that you can't put down, i will ... i'll do something else for a couple of minutes and go back to my book ...

if i have to concentrate, i can ... i struggle, but i somehow make it ... let's take the cinema, for example ... our local theater is extremely intolerant ... they refuse to accommodate my handicap by stopping the movie every 10 minutes, forcing me to sit through the whole 1 1 to 2 hours in one go ... i find that extremely discriminating ... i sit through it and i enjoy it ... if i watch games of thrones on my laptop though, i play at least three games of solitaire during each episode ... i guess, if i'd go to the docs, they'd diagnose me with ADD ... why should i do that though? ... so they can put me on ritalin with all its wonderful side effects like aggression, hallucinations and making you suicidal? ... no thank you ... i stick with solitaire ...

? G+ changed me ...
google+ hasn't cured my ADD, and i'm still no intellectoid, but i notice more and more, how it makes me mentally more alert ... i participate in discussion threads all the time and even start writing my own posts about issues that interest me ... and what? you will say ... what's so special about that? ... well, it might not be special for you, but it certainly is for me ...

you see, to write a meaningful comment or post you have to do research ... you don't want to look like a complete simpleton when discussing matters with highly intelligent people ... try and do some research, when you have to put the book down every ten minutes! ... the discussions here interest me though, so i struggle through it ... the threads and posts here challenge my mind every day and, trying to keeping up with the challenges, my mind suddenly starts developing abilities i'd have never dreamed of half a year ago ... last summer you'd have been hard pressed to get me interested in subjects like internet censorship ... today i participate in discussions about it and write my own posts, including all the research that involves ... heck, up to a few months ago i wouldn't have been able to write a lengthy post like this ... now i just have to learn, how to write interesting posts ... ;-) ... i'm still struggling, but i can feel the wheels turning now ...

i'm only a simple trucker, but i'm even in the process of setting up my own language school here at G+ (+CoolLanguageClasses) ... to achieve this, i have to get into all kinds of new areas of expertise ... logo and web design, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, i have to learn how to use all sorts of unfamiliar software ... up to now, i haven't had much success with my project, but i haven't given up on it yet ... it is the biggest challenge G+ is presenting to me right now ...

» summary: to me G+ is something to be grateful for ...
G+ has an extremely positive effect on me ... it is like a fertiliser for my brain ... even if google would close its social platform down tomorrow, that would be something that will stay with me for the rest of my life ... i'm thankful to the community here for accepting me, for giving me the opportunity to develop my abilities and challenging me every day with new ideas, concepts and points of view ... i've become more open, more rational, more understanding ... due to G+ and the wonderful people here i've become a better person ...

what is your greatest benefit you are getting out of the platform? ... have you had similar experiences? ... if G+ would close its doors tomorrow, what would you take home with you? ...

thank you ever so much for every +1, comment and share! ... i appreciate them greatly ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

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pinging +pio dal cin ... #pleasesharethispost ... thx mate! ... ;-) ...

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how i organise my circles ...
? ?
i finally found the circle management system that achieved just what i wanted, chiefly getting more interaction out of G+ ...

there are plenty of #guides and #tutorials around, that teach you, how to organise your circles ... most are pretty helpful and i've taken loads of good ideas out of them, but none really fitted my needs ... regognise yourself in this? ... everybody seems to have the perfect circle system, but nobody seems to have the perfect system for you ... i know somebody who does! ... you! ... as with everything here on G+, there is no one-for-all recipe ... i had to figure out myself, what kind of circle management fitted me best ... i've had a few goes at it ... i even wrote a post not so long ago (i won't link to it, since this one outdates the previous one), but i changed my approach the very same day i wrote it ... that was, because through a comment on that post i met +Bud Hoffman and he explained his intercation ladder to me ... i never looked back! ...

of course i had to adjust his system to my needs and combine it with that part of my existing system that worked ... this is how i did it ...

? how i increased interaction through my new circles management ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
the normal way is not for me | first steps | interaction ladder | targeted circles ...

? the normal way is not for me ...
i think by now we've all found out, that the way #google advertises to use circles is not exactly working ... what does google say about how to use #circles ? ...

"Create circles for every group of people in your life from family to music buddies or alumni. Then you can share relevant content with the right people and find the content you're interested in." [1] ...

i don't know about you, but, though i was initially really excited about the idea, i hardly ever share anything limited, meaning to a certain group nowadays ... i might use my outgoing circles to notify certain groups of certain articles, but even those are usually public ...at the beginning i thought, that i might us limited posts to send stuff only to my real life friends or my family, but those buggers just won't follow me over from the other large social network so i gave up on it ... here i want to make new friends, with the same interests, so i need to post public, so everybody can see, what my interests are ...

same with incoming circles ... yes, it was a nice idea to get interesting content by circling the right people ... in theory! ... reality looks rather different though! ... it is true, that my friend john q. public posts about finswimming (my great passion), but only about 20% of the time ... 80% is all kinds of other stuff ... he could post that limited, but he's made the same experience as me ... outgoing circles don't work ... so, just like me, he posts everything public and i have to sift through it ... and through the stuff of the 250 other people i used to have in my V.I.P. circle (the one i check every day) ... it took me hours and i didn't have time anymore to write my own wisdom down or to interact with the posts of others ... i needed to do something ...

? first steps ...
? reducing the incoming stream ... there were far too many people in my V.I.P. circle to follow ... according to dunbar's number one can maintain stable social relationships with between 100 and 230 individuals, with a commonly used value of 150 [2] ... so, i reduced the members of my V.I.P. circle to under 100 (currently 69) and put everybody else in a probation circle ... the slider for the V.I.P. circle i set to show everything while the one for the probation circle i set to show fewer things ... suddenly my stream became manageable ... positive side effect; i now had more time to interact with my stream and to write my own posts (read more at how i found my place G+ ... [3]) ...

? changing who i put in my V.I.P. circle ... since i realised that curating my incoming content via circles didn't work, i decided to use my circles just like i do in real life ... the ones in the V.I.P. circle should be the ones i most care about ... out went all those that i originally circled because they post interesting suff from time to time and in went those, that are important to me ... the ones that i like to follow, not because their content is always witty and intelligent, but because i care about them and i want to know, what is going on in their lifes ... i also kept a few in there who really post about one thing only and always have something interesting for me to say like +Denis Labelle +Rahul Roy or +Shamil Weerakoon ...

? where do i get my content from now? ... #savedsearches ! [4] ... i saved some of the most interesting searches and come back to them, whenever i want to read interesting stuff ... now this is really content orientated, rather than person orientated ... nice side effect; i continuously find more peeps who write about things that interest me ...

? targeted circles ...
the fact, that i didn't want to read all the ballast in between interesting posts of the people i follow, made it obvious to me, that my followers probably wouldn't want to read my babbling in between the posts that interested them either ... i post about several subjects regularly and i can't expect my peeps to be interested in all of them ... that is when i came up with the targeted circles system ... i've been wanting to do that for ages and a post by +Rahul Roy reminded me of it again ... i thought, if i turn around my #circlemanagement , i might as well do it right ...

i wrote a post about this already [5], so i won't get too much into it, but in short it works like this ... for every subject i usually post about, i have a circle which i notify, if there is a new post for that subject ... you can request to be added to the circle that interests you ... if you like you can then stick me in a circle you never read and wait for me to notify you of the posts that do interest you ... no ballast, and you can rest assured, that you'll never miss an important post ... read my targeted circles post [5] to find out more about it and, if you'd like to be added to one or more of the circles, +1 the appropriate comment underneath the post ...

? interaction ladder ...
when i wrote a post about how i organise my circles, i got an interesting comment which directed me to a post about the interaction ladder system by +Bud Hoffman [6] ... the thing i care about here most at #googleplus is interaction ... i just love to interact with you, my followers, and i love it, when you guys interact with me ... follower counts are hollow, empty numbers, but intelligent, interesting interaction is the key to a satisfying experience here at G+ ... i went the first step to improve that with my targeted circles but when i heard of bud's system, i knew that this is the cherry on top ...

again you can read the post mentioned above [6], if you want the full explanation, but in short it works like this ... every time you interact with me, you get added to a certain circle ... the sliders of those circles are set at different levels, meaning the higher you get on the ladder, the more of your posts will show up in my stream ... these are the circles of my interaction ladder (slider settings in brackets) ...

? interacted with my comment ... if you either +1ed or +mentioned me in a comment on either one of my posts or somebody else's you go in this circle ... (show fewer things) ...
? +1ed my post ... if you +1ed one of my posts you get stuck in here ... (show fewer things) ...
? commented on my post ... if you commented on one of my posts, this is your next station ... (show fewer things) ...
? shared my post ... this is the circle you go if you shared any of my posts ... (show fewer things) ...
? interactors ... if you have completed all of the steps above, you get upgraded to this circle ... (show most things) ...
? regular interactors ... this is the aristocracy of interactors ... here you'll find those of you who perform all (or most of) the steps above on a regular basis ... this circle fluctuates, because people are taking out of it or are added to it all the time ... (show everything) ...

what i like best about bud's system is that it enables me to reciprocate for the #interaction i receive from you guys ... the more you interact, the more the system let's me see your own posts and gives me the opportunity to interact with them ... i love it! ...

? summary ...
as you can see, my circle system is targeted on interaction, because that is what is most important to me here at #google + ... you might have entirely different priorities, and this system might not be for you at all, but that is up to you to decide ... maybe you can take just some ideas from it and tailor it to your own needs ... i like staying in touch with my mates here via my V.I.P. circle, but apart from that my stream is determined by my interaction ladder ... my targeted circles allow me to keep my followers streams free from ballast and provide everybody with just the posts they like to read ... this is the perfect circle system for me! ...

thank you ever so much for reading through this rather lengthy post ... i hope you enjoyed it ... please, +1, comment and (most importantly) share! ... sharing to me is the biggest compliment you can pay my posts ... it means that you didn't only like it yourself, but see value in it for your followers too ... after all you might've found your perfect circle system already, but there are certain to be some amongst your followers who haven't and they will miss this, if you don't share ... +Sharing is Caring on G+ ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

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#jggplus #jgguides #pleasesharethispost #sharingiscaring

? resources ...
[1] google+ help: about circles - http://bit.ly/M0nGxb ...
[2] wikipedia: dunbar's number - http://bit.ly/J41BIZ ...
[3] how i found my place at G+ - http://bit.ly/JzcYfP ...
[4] google+ help: save your google+search - http://bit.ly/JUnIV8 ...
[5] targeted circles - http://bit.ly/JPJxor ...
[6] bud hoffman's interaction ladder - http://bit.ly/KhnHKT ...

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how i can provide you with better content through targeted circles ...
? ?
i want to provide you with the posts you are most interested in ... and only those! ...

» my G+ holiday is over ...
today was the last day of my mothers holiday ... i took her to the airport this afternoon for her flight back to germany ... we had a fantastic time together again, but as always, it was far too short ... there will always be a next time though, so there is something to look forward to ...

there's another thing i'm immensely looking forward to ... jumping back into the G+ waters ... my #googleplus holiday is over too (which i don't regret at all) ... due to me wanting to spend as much time with my mum as possible while she was here, i had to reduce my time at G+ to a minimum ... i apologise, if i neglected some (or all) of you ... i limited myself to some commenting on very few posts and i posted next to nothing myself ... this will now go back to business as usual again ... i'm back! ...

» adding a little twist ...
there's going to be a little change though ... i've always wanted to do a #targetedcircle for people who'd like to get notifications of my posts ... +Rahul Roy brought this subject up again (http://bit.ly/IMtJm6) and i finally decided to go ahead with it ... up to now, i've notified peeps i thought might be interested in my posts ... this is going to change ... from now on i will only notify people i know are interested in my posts ... how will i do that, you ask? ... by asking you, of course! ...

» how does all this work? ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
the circles | your part | your way out

? the circles ...
my 5 targeted circles ...

? google+ -- one of my main subjects ... i like helping newbies here at #googleplus and discuss G+ related news with experts and new plussers alike ... 

? formula 1 -- i'm not the F1 expert here on G+, but i've been a buff of the king class of motor sports for a great many years, so i guess i am sufficiently knowledgeable to post about the subject ... i'm co-founder of a great formula one circle her at G+ and post about the sport regularly, mostly before race weekends ... 

? finswimming -- this is what i'm really passionate about, though i'm aware, that the audience for this exiting sport is still rather small here on G+ ... i'm hoping to change that in the near future ... i'm father and trainer of british finswimming champion cassandra graikowski-hainsworth and heavily involved in the world wide finswimming scene through my finswimming wiki http://WikiFin.info and other projects ... 

? paper models -- this is, what i do to relax ... making paper models is very therapeutic and calming ... i search for free models all over the internet and post the ones i like best on my german paper model blog http://Kostenlose-Papiermodelle.de ... i will introduce the very best from time to time here in english ...

? cream of the crop (i hope +CircleCount, you guys won't object to me taking my inspiration from you) -- if you want to get notified of all my special posts ... these are the posts, that are my personal favorites ... they are usually a bit longer to read, but i've been told, they are worth it ... 

? your part ...
ok, i've done my bit ... now it's your turn ... ;-) ... please be so kind and simply +1 the comment underneath this post that contains the subject you'd like to be notified about (the first 5 i left for you at the very top of the comment section)! ... i wrote a similar post a few days ago and some of you already let me know, that you wanted to be notified, but then i didn't specify certain circles ... so, even if you have responded to the earlier post already, please +1 the appropriate comment here too, in order for me to know, which subject you'd like to be notified about ... of course you can get notifications of more than one subject ...

a positive side effect is, that you'll be able to follow just certain posts of mine and forget about the rest ... just stick me in a miscellaneous circle (the one you never read) and tell me which kind of posts you'd like to get notified about ... as i said, you can get notifications of more than one subject (just +1 the comments you like) ... if you want to read everything i write, you just stick me in your V.I.P. circle and follow me daily ... i believe that i'll be able to cater for your needs (interests) much better this way and hopefully it'll give the level of interaction on my posts a boost as well, since this system should enable them to reach their particular target audience much better ...

? your way out ...
of course if you get sick of my #notifications , one quick comment will be enough for you to be taken out of the system again ... no discussion or questions ... i know how difficult it is sometimes to keep your stream free of clutter here at G+ (that's the reason i'm doing this), so i won't be upset if you decide that you don't want to be notified anymore ...

» summary ...
all this is designed to make both our G+ experience more enjoyable ... for you to only get notified about the posts you are really interested in and for me to reach exactly the target audience i want ... i have learned a lot about how to set up a circle system that fits my needs and these targeted circles are the dot on top of the i, the cream in the coffee, the jewel in the crown, the cherry on top, the final touch ...

i think, after the colossal success i had with writing about my G+ crisis, how i got through it and how i made G+ work for me (http://bit.ly/IM0lhy), i will write a similar post about how i use circles and how i set up the perfect system for me ... again, just like my way of making most of G+ is not everybody's way, this might not be the right system for you (it probably won't be), but maybe you can take an idea or two out of it ... this post would be a perfect example for the google+ circle and the cream of the crop one, so make sure you get notifications for those ... ;-) ...

thank you ever so much for helping me (and yourself) in this! ... now hurry, +1 the comment of the circle you'd like to get notifications from, let me know what you think of my system and how i could perfect it in a comment and share this post, for everybody to benefit from it! ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski

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how i use shared circles ...
? ?
my way of making most of #sharedcircles (in this article often referred to as SCs) ...

how do i use shared circles? ... hardly ever anymore! ... my friend +Kelline Pickett asked me about it though, and i'd hate to disappoint her ... i thought i was really clever, do a quick search (after all there was bound to be an article on the subject, either on G+ or the internet) and just send her the link ... you know? ... trying to make life easy for myself like? ... no such luck! ... i confess, that the search was very quick and very superficial, but it stroke me as odd, that it didn't come up with anthing ... so i decided to make it a post, so that not only kelline could benefit from it, but others too ...

as always in my G+ related posts i'd like to point out, that i'm no expert on G+ ... i'm a normal user, just like you (maybe a bit dafter) ... all i ever do in my posts is to tell you about my experiences and you can take out of that whatever you find useful (if anything) ... i can't stress enough, that there is no one recipe for #googleplus ... there is only one way and that is your way ... G+ is amazingly versatile and configurable and you can make it just what you want it to be ...

so let me tell you what i do with shared circles and maybe there is an idea or two in there for you ...

? shared circles ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
what are shared circles? | how i use shared circles | tutorial | ...

? what are shared circles? ...
this is obviously the first question ... so, what does google have to say on the subject? ... let's consult google plus help ...

When you share a circle, you share a list of the people who are in that circle at that time. The name of the circle isn't revealed. Sharing a circle is a great way to help out other people who may want to create a circle with the same people. For instance, if you already have a circle of sandboarders, you can share this circle with others who may be interested in the same type of people. ... (http://bit.ly/Jt54Bw) ...

and that's about it ... not exactly very explicit, but it gives us a general idea ... i think especially for newbies, #sharedcircles are a pretty good way to quickly find people with the same interests ... that should give them a bit of a jump start ... that is exactly how i use shared circles ...

? how i use shared circles ...
? adding shared circles - i have found plenty of people through shared circles especially at the beginning here at G+ ... i was new, didn't know jack (or anybody else for that matter) and my facebook friends wouldn't follow me to join in that new adventure of mine ... i was lonely ...

i can't remember any more how it happend, but i stumbled over a SC of recommended people who where recommended to me as friendly and helpful engagers ... i added it to my #circles and it was all easy peasy, lemon squeezy from there on ... those people really were helpful in a way that i didn't know from the other large social network ... they took me under their wings, introduced me to other plussers, explained the ropes to me and helped me in any way imaginable (either in posts and comments or in #hangouts ) ... i've added several other shared circles at later dates and though i've changed my circle system around later (and am in process of refining it even further) [1] i can honestly say, that without the people i've met through shared circles i'd have probably left G+ after a couple of weeks ...

? getting added to shared circles - of course it is also quite helpful, (especially to give things a bit of a push at the beginning), to be added to a shared circle ... one way for that to happen is, to catch the attention of one of the peeps in your interest circles with your great content ... i posted as much as i could publicly and managed to get the attention of some peeps who liked what i wrote about and got added to their shared circles ... i noticed a jump in my follower numbers every time that happened ... then i decided to take another step of action ... i had already searched for shared circles with my interest groups and added them to mine ... i now seeked out the originator of the SC and asked him if he'd mind to add me to the next update ... many circles get updated and re-shared on a regular basis ... that was an effective way, to get my profile out to the people who shared the same interests with me ...

? sharing circles - ever since i changed my circle system, i don't have many interest based circles left ... there are really only two, that i could share publicly and several that i only share limited (family, close friends, etc.) ... one is a circle of google plus community managers and the other one is my formula 1 circle ... the F1 circle is the one i share on a regular basis, since it grows continuously ... unlike most people i don't use this circle to get F1 related posts though ... as i've explained in my circle post, i don't consider circles to be a good method to choose incoming traffic ... i use that circle purely as a way to send posts exclusively (limited) to my F1 pals, for example when i invite them to our _formula 1 race hangouts ... i share circles to create communities i can share certain articles with ...

? tutorial ...
let's add a quick #tutorial on how to work with shared circles ...

? how to add a shared circle - let's say, you are new to G+ ... you find a shared circle in your stream who's members are recommended by the creator of the circle as extremely helpful and interactive ... just what you are looking fo to get things going ...

click on add circle in the center of the shared circle! ... a little window opens and you can now see all the members of the circle ... if you want, you can go through them and remove everybody you don't want in your circles (maybe you already had a run in with one of them and would rather not include him/her again) ... you can now add this circle either to an already existing circle of yours or create a completely new one ... once you start typing a circle name into the top text field under type a new or existing circle name G+ will offer you a selection of the circles you already have ... choose one of them or create a new one ... i usually add all people in shared circles to a new circle first, to check them out and include them in existing circles as i go along and interact with them ... once you've added a shared circle of 500 peeps to an already existing circle it is almost impossible (or at least a sh** load of work) to sort through them later, if you decide that you'd rather not have some of those guys in your circles ... click on the blue button in the right bottom corner! ... done! ...

? how to find SCs - if you'd like to find some shared circles with people who share your interest and don't want to wait until they pop up in your stream, go to http://bit.ly/zcW5b7 ... you will find hundreds of shared circles listed there organised by categories ...

especially for newbies i'd recommend to look through the circles my mate +Rahul Roy listed in this post ... you'll find plenty of goodness there ... http://bit.ly/Jjc49o ...

and +Zach Alcorn published a circle of helpful people in april, just in case you ever need some advise on G+ ... http://bit.ly/JjhfGv ...

? how to share a circle - that is even easier ... just go to your circle page, click on the circle you'd like to share, click on the share circle icon (the one with the two up-pointing arrows) and share ... i usually add a comment to the shared circle, clarifying what the circle is about and why one should or could add it ... circles which have a clear theme get adopted more often ... add yourself to the circle and share! ... done! ... you can share a circle either publicly or limited, just like any other post ...

? summary ...
i don't use SCs often anymore, but especially for the newbie they are a great way to find people with the same interest and create communities of birds-of-a-feather ... they can jump start a new G+ career and help newbies and oldtimers alike to find like minded people ... get peoples attention by posting great content publicly and you'll be sure to be added to their circles ... when they share one of those, your follower count will do a jump and you might find yourself in the company of many new peeps who share your interests ... you can create great communities yourself and let others participate in them by sharing a circle ... shared circles are fun if used with a good dose of common sense and moderation ...

thank you ever so much for reading through another lengthy piece of my wisdom ... ;-) ... i hope you got some ideas out of it on how to use shared circles ... even if you didn't, because you had it all figured out already, remember that there are plenty among your followers who are still struggeling with G+ ... help them by sharing this post! ... i'm also always available to lend a helping hand and of course i'd be extremely interested in your opinion and how you use _shared circles, so feel free to leave me a comment! ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

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#jggplus #jgguides

[1] how i found my perfect circle system ... - http://bit.ly/K1RiHt ...

other posts you might want to read:
targeted circles ... - http://bit.ly/JPJxor
how i use +1s, comments and shares ... - http://bit.ly/KhCvJf
how i found my place at G+ ... - http://bit.ly/JzcYfP ...

if you'd like to be notified about these kinds of posts, please read http://bit.ly/JPJxor ... if, on the other hand you are already receiving these notifications and would rather not anymore, please let me know in a PM (no questions asked) ...
how i use +1s, comments and shares ...
? ?
my own rules for when to use what ...

i've seen questions everywhere (and i've been recently asked myself by a good friend), when it is appropriate to use either +1, comments or shares ... do they have different values and are there rules for when to use which? ... of course there are ... yours! ... just like with everything else here at #googleplus you have to find your own way, your own rules ... let me tell you about mine and who knows? ... you might find an idea or two to help you making up yours! ...

? how i interact with other peoples posts and comments ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
interaction on posts | interaction on comments at one of mine or another plusser's post ...

? interaction on posts ...
are there different values attached to +1, comments and shares? ... i would say yes, but don't overdo it ... a #share is always the highest compliment one can pay the author of a posts, but there are different occasions where +1s and comments have an equal value ...

? +1s - for many this is the lowest form of interacting with a post, but i believe, that's not necessarily true ... i quite often #+1 a post, not because i don't believe it merrits a #comment , but because i believe it merrits an intelligent comment and at that particular moment in time i just couldn't come up with anything witty to save my life ... in a case like this, i prefer not to write some facebook-esque reply like "wow", "that's great" or some other mono-syllable contribution ... i +1 to show, that i like the post and that in itself is a heartfelt compliment ...

? comments - when i can think of something witty (it's mostly only me, who finds my replies witty anyway) or when i believe that i have something worthwhile to contribute to the subject of the post, i comment on it ... that doesn't mean, that i like it better than those posts i +1 ... only that i have something to say ...

? shares - well, this is an entirely different matter ... when i share something it has some really important value for me ... that doesn't necessarily mean, that the content strikes a special cord in me ... it can also mean, that the person who posted it, is special to me in some way and i want to help him/her along ... in any case, it is the highest compliment i can pay a post, or that somebody can pay one of my posts ...

? interaction on comments at one of mine or another plusser's post ...
i will not split this paragraph, since my rules here are quickly explained ... there is no sharing comments, so we can safely forget about that one ... my rules for +1s and comments are very similar here ... i comment on another ones comment, if i'd like to join the discussion and have something to say that i believe adds value to it ... i usually +1 a comment if i can't think of anything to add, but want to indicate to the commenter, that i like what he wrote and/or agree with it ... i also use +1 on comments, to say that i consider the discussion finished ... like saying "thx for the great discussion ... i enjoyed it ... until next time" ... it's meant as a friendly good bye ...

? summary ...
that's how i do it ... so don't be disappointed if i "only" +1 your post or comment! ... it doesn't mean it's not good enough for a comment, but that i'm not good enough to think of a good one ... on the other hand, if i share your post, you've really impressed me with it and/or you are very special to me ...

thx for taking the time to read this ... as always i value your input and appreciate every kind of interaction ... what's your way of interacting? ... similar? ... completely different? ... let me know in a comment and of course, +1 and share ... +Sharing is Caring on G+ ... you might not have much use for my little adivse, but remember, that you were not always so G+ savvy ... there are bound to be newbies amongst your followers or even long time plussers who might still not have found their way of interacting ... if you don't share, they'll miss this post, while if you do, they'll be grateful for it ... (or share, if you really want to pay me a compliment) ... ;-) ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

**********************************************************************
permalink to this post: http://bit.ly/KhCvJf ...
#jggplus #jgguides

other posts you might want to read:
how i found my place at G+ ... - http://bit.ly/JzcYfP ...
targeted circles ... - http://bit.ly/JPJxor

if you'd like to be notified about these kinds of posts, please read http://bit.ly/JPJxor ... if, on the other hand you are already receiving these notifications and would rather not anymore, please let me know in a PM (no questions asked) ...
how i use google chrome extensions to make most of G+ ...
? ?
time for another "how i ..." post, i believe ... join me on my on my journey of discovery through the world of google plus! ... in this post i'd like to tell you how i enhance my already magnificent G+ experience by using google chrome extensions ... you'll find all my other "how i ..." posts under the unique hashtag  ...

? nothing is so good, it cannot be made better ...
that is certainly true for #googleplus ... alright G+ fan boys, shut up! ... i'm one of google+'s most avid defenders, but let's face it ... this network is a constant beta ... the googlers are constantly working on it to improve it and a great job they are doing too, but #google + is far from perfect and can most certainly be improved upon ... that is were the #extension developers come in ... as most of you know, i'm not an engineer, programmer or technician ... please don't expect me to get into the technical side of extensions ... i don't make them ... i use them ... i don't have to know how the telephone is made, to use it either ... i use several extensions and if you have a minute (or twenty) i'll tell you of my experiences with them ...

? the marvel of google chrome extensions ...
the post will be divided into sections as follows:
what are extensions? | my extensions and what i use them for | extensions i don't use regularly | other extensions

? what are extensions? ...
as i said, i'm not an engineer, so i won't get into that much ... we'll let the experts talk, shall we? ... this explanation sounds as good to me as any other ...

Google Chrome Extensions are browser extensions that modify the Google Chrome browser. These extensions are written using web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. (source: wikipedia [1])

what i know is, that google chrome extensions make my life much easier and my G+ experience more interesting and that's all i need to know ... i also know that many extensions are available for browsers other than #googlechrome too ... i only use chrome (and opera and firefox in certain cases and internet explorer to download the other three) and can't help you with that ... if you want to get more into the technical side of extensions, i recommend my mate +Moritz Tolxdorff ... he is an extension developer and knows all the ins and outs ... there's also a #sharedcircle of extension developers by +Micah Wittman  [2] ... 

? my extensions and what i use them for ...
there are literally thousands of extensions available in the google chrome web store and throughout the internet ... i use 11 of them ... 9 of them are for G+ and two for other useful stuff (and a few others i don't use regularly) ... i tend to keep the number of extensions i use as low as possible, because i was advised by people more knowledgeable than me, that they can sometimes interfere with each other and even cause browser crashes ... these are the extensions i regularly work with ... you'll find the links to the extension website or their page in the chrome web store in the resources ...

? bitly [3] ... this extension shortens any URL via a mouse click ... It has many more functions like saving and bundling bookmarks and sharing websites, but i use it mainly to create the URLs you find all over my posts ... take the URL for the picture i used for this post for example ... it is 
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Nn6KVQfLvKM/T42-e0xJx8I/AAAAAAAACkg/bbKqR3-vAMw/s1600/Popular+Google+chrome+extensions.jpg  ... that's a bit of a mouthful right? ... so, what do you think of this instead? ... http://bit.ly/OrYFhk ... better? ... that is what bitly does for you ...

 the extension places a little icon in my tool bar and every time i'm on a website and would like to shorten its URL i just click on it ... a little window will open with the shortened URL which i just copy/paste into my posts ... if you link heavily to other articles, this is a god send ... 

? circlecount [4] ... this magnificent extension is to extensive to list all its features here ... if you are a statistics buff and would like your posts analised down to the smallest component, this is for you ... i don't make nearly most of circlecount, i do use it regularly though to check on my interaction stats ... even those are only numbers and i believe that the quality of interaction is more important than the quantity, but they give me a good idea of how my posts are received and which ones are more successful than others ...

 again the extension places an icon in my toolbar ... i can now go to any profile on G+ (mine or anybody else's), click on the icon and get the stats for that profile (as long as the data is public) ... the window that opens will give me the main details like follower count, and interaction stats, but a click on the more on circlecount.com button will take me to more detailed information ...

? doshare [5] ... this post was written on doshare! ... this extension by +Tzafrir Rehan is a beautiful invention for all those of you who (like me) work on several posts at the same time and whose main audience is usually fast asleep when you write your posts ... i live in spain and more than half of my G+ mates are from the US ... if i write a post in my afternoon it is morning in the states and everybody is at work ... by the time they get to a computer (since of course the don't use their work computers for private stuff, do they?) my post has disappeared into their stream ... if i want to wait till the US evening to post my stuff, i'd have to stay up until 2-3am in the morning, which i still quite often do ... not nearly as often as i used to anymore though ... tzafrir's extension is really good for my sleeping pattern ...

doshare autosafes my posts ... i'll never lose a draft again, because i clicked the wrong button or my computer crashed ... i can work on and save several posts at once and just come back to them whenever i feel like it ... i even have a few phrases saved, that i use regularly, to just copy/paste them into my posts ... an example is the part about the notifications at the end of this post ...

i can create my posts in doshare and either send them off straight away, or schedule them ... the only disadvantage is that to send them at a later date, i'll have to have my computer turned on and to be logged into G+ ... this is due to the G+ API tzafrir explained to me (or he tried ... i really don't understand any of it) ...

the developer is working on his baby constantly and it gets improved all the time ... when i started with it, it was a good idea, but lacked important features ... thx to tzafrir (and to all the users who send him feedback and suggestions) the extension can now do almost everything the normal posting feature at G+ does and much, much more ... tzafrir is also an extremely helpful guy ... if you ever have any problems with his extension, just send him a message and he'll get back to you at no time ...

? Gextend [6] ... do you find the empty white space next to your stream useless? ... i'm sure #google has great plans for it (as we are continuously told), but for now it's just that ... an empty white space ... i use Gextend to extend my stream into the empty space ... very useful ...

? google plus1 button [7] ... many websites already have a G+1 button, but not all of them ... that is not a problem though, because this nifty little extension let's me +1 and share any website on the WWW with just a click of a button ... installing the extensions puts an g+1 icon in my toolbar ... whenever i am on website i like, i click on it to +1 it and/or share it with my followers ...

? google+ notifications [8] ...this little friend of mine lets me know if i have any notifications, even if i haven't got my G+ page open ... it does so via a notification indicator in the toolbar ...

? hangout canopy [9] ... ok, now this is the extension if you are into hangouts ... finding active hangouts is not easy ... google itself doesn't really live up to the job on that one ... you know that little field to the right of your stream that says [number] hangouts live? ... i've never seen it going over 3 hangouts at any one time ... really? ... 250 million active users and there are only 3 hangouts live? ... unlikely, right? ... right! ... install this nifty extension by +Robert Pitt and his gang and you'll find out that google's numbers are far off ... at this particular moment in time google shows me 1 active hangout ... hangout canopy shows me 34! ...

but the extension does far more than showing me all active public hangouts ... it shows me the private ones i'm invited to too ... another really handy feature is watching ... it allows me to specify as many plussers as i want and the extension will alert me if any of them enter a hangout i can join too ... i use it to follow all the peeps who are important to me here and whom i'd like see face-to-face rather than only via posts and comments ...

? star bookmarks for google+ [10] ... this extension places a star icon at the top of every G+ post ... if i deem one of them important enough i can bookmark it ... i find this very practical in a number of cases ... if i'd like to read a post, but the author is more like me and likes lengthy pieces, i might not have the time right now, i bookmark it and read it later ... i also like to bookmark those of my own posts that i refer to often ... much easier than finding them in your profile, especially when they are a bit older ...

? G+ show saved searches [18] ... this is an extension by +Ralf Haring that was just recommended to me by+Christian Schlobach and i'm loving it already ... if you've read my articled how i organise my circles [17], you'll know that i get my incoming content on google+ mainly via saved searches ... though i can get to them via the more button at the top of my stream it is so much more practical to have them easily available ... this extension puts them right on top of my _trending_ list in the white space to the right of my stream ... brilliant! ... it doesn't seem to work all the time though ... sometimes i need to refresh the page to get it, but that's a price i'm gladly willing to pay ...

? other extensions ...
these are two chrome extensions that have nothing to do with G+ ... i use them regularly anyway ... not only G+ can be improved upon, the chrome browser could do with some tweaks too ...

? lastpass [11] ... i used to use the same username and the same password for every website i signed up for ... yeah, yeah, i know ... silly! ... i've got a bad memory, ok? ... it would be impossible for me to remember various passwords and especially if they are the ones considered to be safe ... you know, the ones with letters and numbers, 7 characters minimum, and please include capital letters? ... yeah, right ... well, thx to my good mate +Frank Garufi Jr. who told me about this extension, _lastpass_ now does it all for me ... it generates save, unguessable passwords and keeps track of them all ... all i need to know is my lastpass password ... even i can do that! ...

? search by image [12] ... sometimes i really want to know a bit more about a picture i see on the internet ... that is where search by image comes in ... it ads an option to my right click menu, so every time i right click on a picture i can choose search google with this image and get all the info i need ...

? extensions i don't use regularly ...
and these are four extensions that i used to work with, but am not using on a regular basis anymore ... i still think they might be useful for some of you, so i give them a quick listing here ...

? google translate for G+ [13] ... now, this comes in very handy if you have many followers with different languages or just want to know sometimes what that indian/french/chinese guy says in his post ...

? extended share for google plus [14] ... that should be helpful if you like to re-post your G+ on other social networks ... i hardly ever use any others anymore, so i stopped using it ...

? facebook for google+ [15] ... this one adds your facebook stream to your G+ stream, if you want to keep track of the going-ons over there ...

? my hangouts [16] ... this is a practical extension comparable to_hangout canopy_ but it lacks some features i like at HC and since i don't want to have to many extensions (for the reason mentioned above) i decided for HC ... it has some interesting features HC doesn't have though and they might be more important to you ... so check it out! ...

? summary ...
extensions can really make your live easier and/or your G+ experience more enjoyable ... there are so many more, but these are the ones i use ... i often find new ones, try them out and decide after a while, if i'm going to keep them or not ... most of them get discarded after the initial enthusiasm has worn off, but a few rare ones, like the ones above, i keep ... i hope they give you a general idea of what might help you with G+ ... btw, a good place to find new extensions is google+ extended ... 

thank you ever so much for reading through this short post ... i'd very much appreciate hearing your take on this in a comment ... if you are using the same extension as me, please let me know your experiences and send me any additional info you have (+pages, websites, developers, etc.)! ... have you got some extensions you think might improve my G+ experience? ... let me know! ... and (most important of all), please share, share, share this post! ... i write my "how i ..." posts to help newbies and there are bound to be many among your followers ... if you don't share, they will miss my collected wisdom and it is so easy ... just click the share button (if you want, write a nice commentary with it) ... your less experienced followers will thank you for it ... +Sharing is Caring on G+ ... ;-) ...

greez,
+Jens Graikowski ...

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resources:
[1] wikipedia - google chrome extensionshttp://bit.ly/L6ilF8 ...
[2] shared circle of extension developershttp://bit.ly/OrVCWg ...
[3] bitlyhttp://bit.ly/KETw54 ...
[4] circlecount+CircleCount - http://bit.ly/K79WCb ...
[5] doshare+Do Share - http://bit.ly/LEBhXv ...
[6] gextend +Google+ Extended - http://bit.ly/HM7YEK ...
[7] google +1 button - http://bit.ly/MtLzKj ...
[8] google+ notificationshttp://bit.ly/MtLTbS ...
[9] hangout canopy+Hangout Canopy - http://bit.ly/Mq2CRB ...
[10] star bookmarks for google+http://bit.ly/LFmRGe ...
[11] lastpass+LastPass - lastpass.com ...
[12] search by imagehttp://bit.ly/L9WvyX ...
[13] google translate for G+http://bit.ly/tJt2cO ... 
[14] extended share for google plushttp://bit.ly/rDOJl9 ...
[15] facebook for google+http://bit.ly/vE1cO8 ...
[16] my hangouts - +My Hangouts - http://bit.ly/KQkZAi ...
[17] how i organise my circleshttp://bit.ly/LjPnPf ...
[18] google+ saved searcheshttp://bit.ly/MPUvLS ...

if you'd like to be notified about these kinds of posts, please read http://bit.ly/JPJxor ... if, on the other hand you are already receiving these notifications and would rather not anymore, please let me know in a PM (no questions asked) ...
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