Today, Google launched one of the best features to come to Google+ since the network’s launch nearly 4 years ago. It’s called Google+ Collections. This latest feature allows for content creators to manage and organize their posts in a very powerful manner and allows users of Google+ to only subscribe to the content that they wish to see in their own social stream.
Collections are what Google+ should have been in the beginning. Google touted Google+ circles as the new and best way to organize our social network. Though, it quickly became evident that Circles were more about organizing people and not so much about organizing the content that those people post.
For example, if a Google+ user loves to drink craft beer, you might put them in a craft beer circle. However, maybe they rarely post about craft beer and are often posting about technology. Since you circled this person, you’d see all of their posts, including the technology focused ones that you might not really be interested in seeing. Maybe you only cared about their rare craft beer posts? So, you’re left with a decision. Do you circle this person and see everything that they post and sift through the noise, looking for something that you actually care about or do you try to reduce your social clutter and not circle them altogether? A lot of people avoided Google+ because of this potentially spammy nature. Google has fixed this problem with their platform, and it’s wonderful.You’ll find the new collections feature located on the Google+ navigation bar as well as users profile pages. If you select the collections heading from the navigation bar or select collections from your own profile, you’ll be taken to a list of your collections and also be given the option to create new collections. If you’re visiting another user’s profile, you’ll have the option to view and subscribe to their collections, which we’ll get into later.Think of collections as categories on a blog or simply a collection of similar posts. When you’re ready to create your first collection, you have the option of making that collection visible to the entire public, only your Google+ circles, yourself, or a customized option which might include one or more specific circles. For example, if you wanted to post family photos to a family collection that was only visible by your family, you’d create a Google+ circle with your family members and then create a collection that’s only visible to your family circle. You can even create a private bookmark collection for saving posts you’d like to read later if you’d like.
After you’ve decided on the type of collection you’d like to create, you’ll need to select a cover image and a border color. Google+ provides a handful of stock photography to choose from or you may pick one of your own.Now that your new collection is created, you’re ready to start filling the collection with content so that you can organize your posts and so that your followers can easily find what they’re looking for. For example, I have a collection for all of my Android posts as shown below.
While you won’t be able to change a collection’s visibility from private to public or vice-versa once you’ve created it, you can still edit the name of the collection as well as change the collection subscription method. By default, anyone that circles you on Google+ will automatically follow your newly created collection, depending on the collection’s privacy settings of course.So, you have a brand new collection and you’d like to fill it with content, what do you do? By visiting your Google+ profile page, you can select the downward pointing menu arrow on individual posts and move those existing posts to a collection.
You don’t have to move all of your old posts if you don’t want to spend the time doing so. Depending on how often you post and how ambitious you are, the above can be a daunting task. Thankfully, you can easily create new posts and send them directly to a collection as shown below. All of your collections will show up in the To: field’s drop down menu alongside your circles and communities.
It’s important to mention that you do have the option to share your own posts into collections. While this seems like a quick way to move your own posts into a collection with a share, it’s not the best method as you’ll be sharing old posts with all of your followers as you populate the collection. It’s best to use the move method as outlined above so old posts do not show up in the stream.
Now that you know how to create new collections on Google+ and how to move existing posts into collections, what about subscribing to collections to reduce the clutter or noise in your own stream? You have a few options and all of them are quite simple. As mentioned above, just visit the profile page of a Google+ user to view their collections, checking out the list of featured collections, viewing the collections from your existing circles, or click on a collection name if one happens to pop up in your stream as pictured below. You’ll notice the heading of a Google+ post that’s part of a collection contains an new icon as well as the collection name. Once you’re viewing the collection you’d like to subscribe to, just click on the follow button and you’re all set.Collections is one of the best features to come to any social network in recent times, because of the sheer amount of manageability and control offered to users on both sides of the stream. This powerful feature should completely change the way people experience Google+, and hopefully thwart those ridiculous Google+ is dead rumors.
Have you setup any noteworthy collections? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check’em out.
Please note: The above was written showing mainly desktop screenshots and from the desktop perspective. Here is what collections looks like in the Android app that’s now rolling out to everyone.