Yesterday marked the launch of Google+ Collections. I’d like to be less cliché than hailing it as Google’s answer to Pinterest at this early stage even though similarities are evident. 'Collections’ undeniably provides us with an easy, efficient way to organise and curate the best content from around the web.
Creating a collection is as simple as navigating to the ‘Collections’ tab underneath your cover photo and allocating your collection a name and its desired visibility. ‘Custom’ audiences are formed from a number of Google+ circles if you’re looking to refine your scope. Collections can also be set to – Only Me. This is my favourite aspect of collections thus far. Share the best posts or ideas from Google+ to your own private collection and create a drawing board for future articles, or simply as a personal bookmarking tool.
After creating your collection you are able to ‘customise’ your collection image and colour scheme. Note – it is not possible to change the visibility settings of a collection after it has gone live. From here on the collection and the content contained within is completely at the discretion of the user.
See Heather Buckley's 'Google Plus Collections and How to Use Them' for a comprehensive guide on creating collections.
It’s clear to us at this point that collections may prove incredibly useful to a business such as ours; providing a range of training on a variation of topics. Therefore we have set up a collection for each of our main training topics: SEO Social Media and Digital Marketing, PRINCE2 and Project Management, Creative Design and Web and Mobile. Much thinking has taken place on how a business could use Google+ collections. We provide such a diverse range of training courses that it is sometimes difficult to write consistently for each topic. Through curating other business’ and author’s content on collections not only will we have a plethora of ideas on a given topic to source in own our articles, but also a platform to publicise our posts on to predetermined audiences. Google+ collections can and should make life a whole lot easier for marketers and personal accounts alike.
So how could a business present their collections to consumers?
Think of a car manufacturer, of course it would be easy for them to create a collection for each car model they make. Visitors on Google+ could visit the collection for each model and find articles, reviews and information about that particular model. Collections could therefore, function as a catalogue for a business with a collection for each product or service they provide. A holiday company could create a collection for each of their resorts - but if the company already has a functioning website then how will this provide anything of any additional value to a customer than a pre-existing website does?
As marketers we need to think to a greater degree about what our customers want to hear from us. This is where curation will comes into play. If a business is constantly on the pulse of a topic like condensing articles and posts of interest into a singular collection then visitors will return to you as a thought leader. No, you won’t actively be sharing articles on the product you sell but you are building brand awareness and reaching out to like-minded authors and letting them know you appreciate their work. In return, one would hope that authors would share the content you provide. However if we pay attention to Google’s featured collections then it’s clear that not one of them is from a business.
This could be because Google intends collections to be used purely by personal accounts for personal accounts. If one thing is for certain it’s that earning a spot as a featured collection is incredible publicity. Let’s take Liz Krane’s featured collection: 30 Days of Web Dev as an example. Liz currently has 824292 followers on Google+. We can either follow Liz’s personal account or the collection itself. The difference being that the only content from Liz that will appear in my news stream will be from the collection I’ve elected to follow. If I follow Liz’ account then obviously each of her posts will appear in stream.
But the sheer fact that I now know about Liz Krane and her work is testament to the power of featured collections.
She hasn’t paid for her feature, she hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary but she’s invested time and effort into collecting great content into a singular collection. This is marketing done right, each article directs the user to her website. One can only imagine the number of new site visitors she’s had since the launch of collections. Featured collections are highlighting how conversational and personal content tailored towards user experience pays dividends. It’s a follow from us Liz!
Similarly our very own Heather Buckley has earned a featured spot for four of her incredible collections. Here's my personal favourite Shapes, Lines, Simplicity and Symmetry and how it appears, clear as day in the bottom right of Google's featured page.
Seeing as Google’s aim with collections seems to be orientated towards consumer interaction with personalities as opposed to businesses - A face behind the business looks to be the way to go. Never has it been more important to create personal, shareworthy content optimised for user engagement.
If collections are to take off and If one wants to earn a spot as a featured collection then marketing will have to adapt.
Well what’s new? Marketing is always adapting and marketers themselves are constantly and rightly sceptical. Collections is what the Google+ community has been crying out for years for. A way to curate and collect the most relevant, personal and best content into a location built for user experience. Of course this is purely speculation but even at this early stage, Google+ collections looks to be the real deal, you wouldn't want to miss the boat.