Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review 2016: Google+ - Creators, Collections and Communities


In June 2016, Google+ turned 5 years old. It was a relatively quiet birthday celebration, with special wallpapers and shared memories. But after all that time, 2016 seems to me to be the year Google+ is finally starting to come into its own.

Rewind back to July 2015, when Google+ announced a shift in focus from being the social layer across all Google products to a simpler and more focused interest-based social network. To that end, a brand new Google+ was launched in November 2015. And this year, the focus was on building up that new Google+, both transferring features from classic Google+ and adding entirely new features.

When the new Google+ web experience became the default in September, it looked like Google+ had indeed been reincarnated.

Collections - which turned one year old in May - are the centerpiece, and new search and discovery features promote Collections before people or individual posts. As Eli Fennel opined "Complaining that your G+ engagement has gone down because you're refusing to use Collections, is like being on Twitter 8+ years ago and complaining that your engagement has gone down because you refused to use hashtags."

Communities got a major spam-fighting update with the ability to hold posts for review. Community post are also now sorted by "relevance" by default, which annoys me (I like to see them in chronological order), but probably makes good posts more discoverable to community browsers or new members.

And finally, after all these years, Google+ became a core G Suite Google Apps for Work service. "This means that Google+ will have the same technical support and service level commitments as any other core service, like Gmail or Google Drive" for G Suite customers. The catch? G Suite users can only use the new Google+ interface. Classic Google+ is no longer supported.

But most of those classic features can be found elsewhere:
The only major feature that's missing is Events. We know those won't be moved in their current form to to the new Google+, but I'm hoping that 2017 brings some kind of Events replacement. 

There are other settings and features that haven't yet made it to the new Google+ (such as setting a custom URL), and others that could use some work (such as posting photos and videos). 

Overall, I think the new Google+ is mostly ready for prime time.  For  users who have been clinging on to the old classic Google+ user interface, I think it's time to say goodbye to the old, and in with the new. 

My top Google+ 2016 Updates



Read on for all this year's Google+ updates and tips!


2016 Google+ Updates



I just want to note that looking through the list of this year's updates, it's really fantastic that Google+ is sharing all this information with us. Other Google products make updates all the time too, but most go unannounced, and often largely unnoticed.

Programs, Communities and Creators

This year Google+ created programs to support and promote its most active and passionate users.


Desktop and cross-platform general updates

Common themes: better search, better content discovery, more account tools. And that's in addition to new features like images in comments. Note that Community updates get their own section below.

Community updates

There were enough updates for Communities to put them in their own category. Nice!

Brand Accounts and the separation of YouTube and Google My Business from Google+

Up until this year, if you had a local business listing or a YouTube channel using a business or other name) you automatically had a Google+ Page. The Page *was* the account - delete Google+ and your YouTube channel would be deleted as well. 

However, YouTube and Google My Business have been in the process of separating from Google+ for over a year. As part of that process Brand Accounts (myaccount.google.com/brandaccounts) were introduced. Now you can delete your Google+ Page without affecting your YouTube channel. This change appears to still be in progress.


The separation of Google+ from other Google products

A Google+ Profile is no longer needed for much of anything other than using Google+ and social features in Google Photos and Google Games only require a Google account.


Google+ Gets Mobile


iOS Google+ app

The Google+ iOS app has been lagging behind it's Android counterpart. There have been regular updates throughout 2016 and it will hopefully get parity with Android in 2017.

Android Google+ app
The Android Google+ app was also regularly updated this year.


Top 2016 Google+ Tips

Lots of great tips this year, including some official guides from Google+ for using Communities and Collections.

General

Collections
Want more Google+ Tips and Updates? Follow my "Get the most out of Google+" Collection!




Posted by Peggy K

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