Now with +135m active users (and +500m members overall) Google+ is no longer a “Ghost Town” but rather a 2013 must have. Today Google launched “Communities” (in essence, places to chat about your passions with other likeminded obsessives) and further hit home that value and relevance are the main plays for Google+ and not (at least for now) in-feed ads etc.
In summary: Four types of communities are available: two public, two private. 1) Open to all + all can post, 2) Open to all + only moderators post (but all can still comment/view, 3) Members only group (discoverable by search) or 4) Private group through accessed through specific URL only. All public communities are searchable.
Great! High signal, low noise (God willing). But what surprised me most about the coverage was its lack of nod to how exciting this could be for Enterprise on a few levels. 1) Inside the business – team work, special projects, pet projects, internal comms, mini committees etc. The addition of a safe space has potentially made Google+ a much more viable option to replace intranets etc when you combine it with Hangouts and Google Docs… can you see the stars aligning here? b) Outside the business – Most businesses have a core army of fans, most don’t know who these people are (or how to activate them) though – “Communities” effectively does two things – 1) It allows people to self-identify and therefore businesses can “help” (read: market to) those people, just observe or they could really use the space creatively and make a free MyStarbucksIdea for pretty much time spent and internet charges. Either way Christmas came early from Google this year.
I’ve been using Google+ (some say too much!) since it launched. I find it incredibly useful and thanks to IFTTT I now use it to update Twitter with relevant posts too. Personally I find Circles intuitive and like all things social, you get value out when you put in a little time. Google+ is increasingly showing how it is not a social network and living up to the “layer” spiel they originally came out with. The addition of communities is a giant step to not only adding more value for the users (passion = narcissism = time spent) but also further enriching their main cash cow – search.