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Is Google+ adding up?

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By Danny Murphy

There’s no shortage of hype about the Internet and product launches related to it. When Google+ launched in 2011, there was a lot of hype. Google+ was Google’s response to popular social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Google wanted their piece of the social media market. However, Google+ has not lived up to the hype. Some big changes were recently made to Google+. Naturally, Google cranked out some hype over those changes.

“Today we’re taking a big step toward making Google+ an even better place for your interests. To do so, we’ve drastically simplified nearly every aspect of the product. You’ll see this clearly in our new navigation centered around Collections and Communities. Collections let you immerse yourself in content about topics like surfing or tiny tilt-shift photography scenes. Communities enable groups of people with the same interests to join up and geek out on anything from Game of Thrones to Painting. With Collections and Communities, discovering amazing things is simple: just follow or join whatever happens to pique your interests. But we didn’t stop with Collections and Communities; the new Google+ also makes it easier to post, search, connect, and keep up with great content in a fully redesigned home stream. And we’ve worked hard to make our new web experience load fast and work beautifully on devices of all sizes.”

Here are some of the significant changes:

  • Profiles in the new Google+ were simplified. They include Collections, Communities, and Posts.
  • The "Photos" tab on Google+ profiles no longer shows up. Google Photos, a standalone app, is available to store, share, and manage your photos.
  • The new Google+ doesn't include Hangouts. To use Hangouts, users can visit the Hangouts homepage or download the Hangouts app.
  • Games have also been removed from Google+. Games can now be found on Gameplay.

Google+ Communities debuted in 2012. Communities are essentially groups and forums which bring users together around specific topics. There seems to be no limit to the types of communities that can be created. There are Communities about Running, Gaming, and Tea. There’s even a Facebook Community with over a million users. The Photography Community has nearly two and a half million users. There are lots of other Photography Communities with specific focuses, like Nature Photography (six separate Communities) and Sports Photography (six separate Communities).
Communities are not the same as Circles. In Communities, users ask questions and make comments related to the area of interest they share with other users in that Community. For example, posts in a cooking community will generally be related to food. For businesses, Communities are like niche markets where you can easily network with potential customers who have interests related to your product or service. If you don’t see a group that fits for you, you can create one. However, if you choose to do that, you’ll also have to grow it.
Google+ Collections debuted in May of 2015. They’re similar to Pinboards on Pinterest, allowing users to organize content around topics and themes. Collections are sets of posts focused on a particular topic. There are collections related to Taiwan, Railroads, and Street Art. Collections can be shared privately, publicly, or with a selected group.
According to Google, the users who like Google+ the most are people who connect with others around shared interests and passions. Other users can follow Collections, with or without following someone’s Google+ Profile. When you follow a collection, it appears in your stream. Featured Collections are also promoted in Streams. When you see something you like in a Collection, you can easily get to similar content by that author.
One of the features of Google+ that people have liked the most and used a lot has been Circles. Circles allow users to organize their contacts into groups.  Circles can be customized and there’s no limit to the number of Circles you can be associated with. You can have a Circle for work, another Circle for the family, another for hobbies – the possibilities are endless.
Circles also enable users to filter their streams so that the user’s Circle selection controls the stream. The Circle you select can determine which posts you see. You choose who you'd like to share content with. For example, someone in your Family Circle will probably not be interested in something you're thinking about sharing with your Work Circle. Circles are helpful for keeping your content relevant for the people you’re presenting present it to.
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The New Google+ is user friendly and it focuses on the features that users have been using the most: Communities, Collections, and Circles. If you make the switch to New Google+ and you’re not crazy about it, you can easily switch back to Classic Google+. There’s a link in the lower left corner of your Google+ page which enables you to make the switch.
(Here, I must digress for a moment. Google itself refers to “Classic Google+”. Ah, so  Google+ is a beloved brand, like Coca Cola? Newsflash: No, it’s not. Google+ has only been around since 2011 and its performance has been a bit disappointing. Google redesigned Google+ because it didn’t catch on anything like they hoped it would. There probably won’t be very many people who are going to lament the day Google+ got refurbished.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all still going strong and there’s no reason to think that Google+ will displace them in the very near future. On the other hand, Google is a major player on the internet and it appears that they want to be much more of a player. With this redesign of Google+, Google has shown that they’re paying close attention to the ways people use their services.

“While this is an exciting new beginning for us, we’re definitely not done yet.We got here by listening and learning, and will continue doing so.
Luke Wroblewski of Google on November 17, 2015

Meanwhile, Google is relentlessly pursuing ad revenue and that’s what the redesign is really all about. With the pinpointed focus of Communities and Collections, businesses may find that Google+ is worth looking into for marketing purposes.
Working the Web to Win has previously written several articles about  Google and Google+. Check them out.
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In this article I have discussed the New Google+ which now focuses on Communities, Collections, and Circles. While Google+ has yet to prevail among more established social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, this redesign may help. Communities and Collections may be of particular interest for business marketing.
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Danny Murphy is the Lead Blogger at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also the author of Humor 101: How to Tell Jokes for Power, Prestige, Profit, and Personal Fulfillment which is available from Amazon on Kindle.

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  1. Nice article Danny, Google keep shuffling the deck on its products trying to get the mix right. Too bad they are also pissing off as many users as they are making happy by the continually rearranging the pieces like they musical chairs.

  2. The changes in Google+ seem to make some sense. As I wrote, the changes are all about their bottom line. I plan to experiment with Google+ Communities more than I have in the past.