Google+ has had a major revamp in another effort to convince all but its most loyal users to log on.
Here’s the official announcement from the Google blog.
It strikes me that Google is seeking a middle ground between Twitter and Medium. A place that’s definitely not Facebook (in fact, it’s not really about people) but revolves around individual interests and a hunger for micro- (or macro) blogging.
Collections have been available for five months but are now ‘front and center’ in Google’s words, alongside Communities.
See the screenshot below and you can see that the footer menu on mobile includes these two buttons (with Home and Notifications completing the set).
These Collections allow users to group posts together. Other Google+ users can follow any of your collections at will, receiving updates when new content is published there.
Putting the focus on compartmentalising posts is smart. It allows users to create what’s closer to their own categorised blog (or photoblog) than a social network.
Encouraging users to create and share content is the lifeblood of any social platform.
As Medium pulls users away from blogging platforms such as WordPress, perhaps Google+ can do the same for people who want a publishing platform more expansive than Twitter, but not quite as longwinded and text focused as Medium.
One can easily envisage publishers making better use of Collections, as well as businesses on Google Apps, making use of the ability to share Collections privately.
In much the same way Medium allows the tagging of posts, Communities streamlines the G+ experience for browsing users and helps to encourage users to get involved though already thriving groups.
In practice, a lot of these Communities are redundant, with few members and posts, mostly old, and often including borderline spam.
Of course, some Communities are actually thriving with loyal G+ users, so putting the emphasis here should mean Google will eventually provide a better way of sorting the wheat from the chaff when searching Communities.
Most commentators have pointed out that groups of users centred around a specific topic represent a great target for advertisers (in partnership with major publishers).
There’s a way to go yet before Google decides to try this, but as its press release states:
…these are the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love.
Simplicity for user uptake
Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly…
This is the most important part of the update, streamlining the user experience, making it easier to adopt on a whim.
Surely multiple streams will be dropped after a while, in favour of the ubiquitous single stream?
Making articles quick to load and simple to share will be the foundation for a better mobile experience.
‘Discovery’ (or data) is the key word
Wherever you look – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat – all are prioritising the ability of users to discover new content and share it.
Whether Google pursues an advertising model through content discovery on G+, or simply uses the anonymous data for better targeting elsewhere, the mantra for 2016 is ‘once more with feeling’.
Finishing with a final quote from the announcement:
..we look forward to seeing how today’s changes help kickstart even more conversations around everything from Zombie Cats to Vintage Calculators.