Monday, May 4, 2015

Google+ Collections: Kind of a Big Deal

If you counted up all of the views of  "Google+ is dead" posts over the past four years, they'd probably add up to the current count of people actually using the service actively, which is generally about the same number as use Twitter on a good day - and, perhaps, even more pretty soon, thanks to a new +Google+ feature announced today called Collections. Collections is kind of a big deal - because it could completely change the game of how people publish and select content to follow in social media.

Collections allows you to publish content on a specific topic that gets posted to the Streams of people who follow it on Google+ using their Web or mobile app. That's the simple description of it, and details on the "how-to" are here in my All Things Google Collection, but the implications are far-reaching. A lot of the tech press has compared this feature to Pinterest and blogs, and that's certainly a big part of what this is about. If Collections had been in Google+ at or near its launch, then Pinterest may have never happened. But now that Collections is here, it can become, as Pinterest is already, a great way of focusing people on topic-based content without having to tune in everything that someone posts on a range of topics - or settling for the noise of online groups, forums and communities. This can be quite a boost to both personal publishers and marketers (a Collection for how-to videos and another for coupons, anyone?). Instead of having separate profiles and services for separate purposes, you can segregate your content by topic as well as have a general-purpose stream of content - and have it all credit to a common following count.

On the blogging side, Collections can help to amplify what is already a strong "plus" for Google+: social media comments integrated with blogs. You may notice that the comments section on my blog is integrated with Google+, which enables comments in Google+ related to this post that I share there to appear in the comments of the blog post also. By posting blog posts into Collections, you're reaching a more general audience on that topic who you can feed with little snippets in your topical Collection who are going to be eager to read your blog post - and more likely to contribute to its comments more effectively. You can do this only much more crudely though other services that will not integrate comments in the place where they can do your brand great credit - in your blog posts.

Will this change how the world views Google+? In the short run, perhaps not - the tech press is almost inexhaustibly convinced that the third largest social media network doesn't exist - but I think that in the long run this major re-commitment to the vibrancy of Google+ is going to have an important shift in how people perceive and use the platform. Already it is a strong community for in-depth discussions and great photo sharing, for both public and private content. Communities makes it much more possible for social media content to find its right audiences, for those audiences to focus on what matters most to them, and to encourage people that they can share things with the right people at the right time with both rewards and lack of discomfort. In a world of megatweeters and way too many baby photos from the wrong people, that's not something to be ignored.

So both on amplifying and refining, Collections gets a huge +1 from me - and is worth investigating in more detail.