Google Plus notifications explained and explored!

Your settings on Google+ are central to your experience, and your notification settings can transform who/what punctuates your attention by dingalinging Mr Jingles for you.

I will largely be focused on the desktop experience here, but it should apply to mobile as well (see the settings toward the end of the article).

So let’s run through the options so you can start to see the wood for the trees, as they say in the forest...

The settings

Firstly, you will find them here:

Who can send you notifications

 And if you wan to see the Official Google+ Help Page then that has some great information here.

 The settings really matter to your Google+ experience

I did an experiment for a few days by changing my settings and seeing how it altered my Google+ experience.
At this ‘lowest’ setting it was incredibly restrictive. It was lonely. It was all about me. OMG, it was like I was on Facebook or something like that.

Let’s dive in with the ‘lowest’ setting...

Setting: 'Only you'

For 'Only you' you will find notifications 'at the top', including...

when people +1 your posts,

when someone notifies you on my post

a comment alone when on your posts

Note: if you comment/+1/share you just get one notification

You will still get notifications when people are in a circle which you’ve asked to receive notifications

+1s one of your comments

When someone comments on a post which you have also commented previously, you get a notification.

When some plus ones your comment on your post

As an aside, this led me into a ‘muting a post’ more, otherwise you will continue to receive notifications.

Shares one of your videos on YouTube

When people upload images to an event which you said you were attending

Notifications for communities to which you have opted in to receive them

When someone replies to your event, comments on your event, invites people to your event

You will also receive notifications for people who are posting when you are subscribed to them (i.e. to a circle to which they belong)

NOTE: if you choose ‘only you’ people on another thread they will be able to +mention you in comments, but you won't receive the notification (the same applies to e.g. circles and extended circles below)

Everything else:
If people ‘add you’ to their circles

When people +mention you (including e.g. not on your content but a reshare of your content)

When people notify you that you are in a circle - this is great as keeps those out of the way

Note: if you get +mentions on your Page’s posts (i.e. you not your Page name, your Profile name) then they will end up in everything else.

When someone comments on their photo in an event and plusses your name (hence why email notification is helpful)

When someone shares your post (that gives a notification) and plusses you names in the post (doesn’t)

Note: also, if for instance you are invited to a hangout/video call, then on my testing it won't show in either area.
But you can receive a notification by email (see below).

Setting: Circles

As you may expect, this allows people from with your circles (or you can choose custom circles) to send you notifications.

Setting: Public

This means anyone can send you notifications. And this means they can ‘notify’ you by clicking on the check box to ‘notify’ by email.

Ok, as you may have guessed, I skipped over ‘extended circles’ as this one needs a little more attention. Ready? Here we go!

Setting: 'Extended circles'

Before we get to ‘notifications’ and how they relate to extended circles, let’s get a definition of it:

Here is the official Google version.

When you share something, you might notice an option to share with your extended circles. Your extended circles include people in your circles' circles. Content shared with your extended circles will be visible on your posts tab to people who have access.

For example, let's say Nediva is in one of your circles, and Jadon is in one of Nediva's circles. You don't know Jadon and he's not in any of your circles. If Nediva chooses to have Jadon visible on her profile among the people in her circles, and you choose to share with your extended circles, your content could appear on Nediva's Home page and be visible to Jadon on your Posts tab of your profile.
You aren't able to see a complete list of the people included in your extended circles -- it's a collection of people that's frequently changing.
Your extended circles may also be used to help generate suggestions of people Google+ thinks you may know.
Here is some of what you will find when you click on the link to ‘suggestions’ above.

"If you choose to not reciprocate, people who aren't in your circles will only see content you post if you share it with your Public, and possibly your Extended circles. When someone adds you to a circle, it won't give them additional access to your profile information. It may, however, make it easier for that person to take actions that generate notifications for you -- like commenting on your posts or sharing with you directly."

Here is my version: People who you have in circles, and the people who THEY have in circles too. This could be a lot of people e.g. if you have 1000 people in circles, and they all have 1000 people then it could reach up to, say, 1 million people (but it really depends on overlapping circle membership).

What does this mean for notifications?
Well, if your settings are ‘extended circles’ (the default if you are over 18 years old, ‘circles’ if you are under 18) for notifications then the people you have in circles, and the people they have in circles could send you a notification.

There is something else here too though…

When you visit some people’s profiles, you may see ‘In common with you’ (and ‘People in common’ you once click).

“These are people that connect you to the profile owner. You can see which of your circles you've already added them to.”
You are also likely to see it on a person’s hovercard.

 Mark Traphagen hover card

The number in common comes from the number of people who YOU have in circles who also have THEM in circles.

The bigger the number then the more people you have circled also have this person circled, even if you don’t.

In summary: if you have people in common, then they are already in your extended circles, unless you have already added them to your own circles. So the people you have in your circles, and the people they have in their circles are your extended circles - therefore they can e.g. notify me with posts just because THEY have that person in circles.

i.e. by you having ‘them’ in your circle, they act as a bridge for who can e.g. contact you when you opt for ‘extended circles’ for your notifications.
As such, who you have in your circles really will make a difference to your overall Google+ experience; but also, who they have in theirs will do too.

Extra find: when you have your settings on e.g. 'extended circles', a Page (even when in extended circle) won't be able to comment on your threads (they look closed off) unless you add them into your circles.

Are you with it? Good. Now let’s move on a little...

Who can comment on your public posts?

This is the other setting you will want to get your head past in relation to this whole area.

Comments on posts

This one is simple though. It just gives access to/or stops people being able to comments AT ALL on your posts.
So, if you want to build the broadest network possible, you will want ‘public’.

More on that here.

Note, however, that is someone calls in a person to a thread that is public, then that person will be able to comment on that thread as well, even when they are not ‘supposed to be allowed to’ in your settings. Think of this like someone bringing a friend to the party.

Next let's look at a question which comes up regularly in the Plus Your Business community...

Do people receive a notification just by choosing ‘circles’ or a specific circle?

No, people don't receive a notification just because you select 'circles'.

You would need to click the 'notify by email' box and then, dependant upon people's settings they will get the notification in email as well as in notifications unless they have filtered this out.

Who sees when you select to ‘a circle’...

Jodi Kaplan gave a great answer on this: “It depends on what you do and what they do. If you check the email notification box then they get an email notification (generally not recommended, unless it's a specific circle that requested notification of posts on a particular topic). Otherwise, it just shows up in their stream, unless they have chosen to be specifically notified when you post something. It will also depend on the settings (fewer, standard, more) they have chosen for the circle you are in.”

Now let’s take a look a quick look emails and mobile settings too.

Receive notifications - Get notified by email or phone when someone…

Notifications email and mobile

This has proven to be an AWESOME way of managing my notifications. I have it set to make sure that +mentions make their way into the social tab in my gmail, as well sharing posts and other content on the web too.

Have a play with this one yourselves and see what works for you.

I don’t have the need for notifications on my mobile, but may well give that a go soon. Just for fun.

And finally…

My settings for notifications as of writing this are set to extended circles (the default), and if anything I would look at moving to public more than restricting it to e.g. circles. If you are looking at building a global network then I think this approach could well work for you too, anything less and, well, you are making it more hard for people to reach out and connect.
There we have it! A bit of a experiment and hopefully some useful findings for the community.

Did you read this far?

Well, as a bit of a bonus for you (you know I like to do this by now) I will give you an idea on why this matters if you are a business...
Think network. When you connect to people with who matter to you most, you are beginning to build bridges to people who have already connected with them. This is why, increasingly, who circles you as well as who you have in your circles really matters.