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Google+ gets the pivot of the year

Mike Elgan | Nov. 24, 2015
Google transforms its everything-for-everyone social network into a site that does one thing really well -- connecting supernerds.

Finally, Communities and Collections were also successes, and they are now the central focus of the new Google+, while Circles are de-emphasized.

You can re-emphasize Circles by navigating to Settings and then Advanced Settings, and then throwing the switch on "Enable circle stream in navigation." This will add a new "Circle Streams" button to your left navigation bar. Pressing it will show your top 10 Circles. You can see all your Circles at any time by clicking on People, then choosing the "Following" tab.

The new emphasis on Communities and Collections means that instead of being an alternative to Facebook, Google+ is now an alternative to Reddit and Pinterest.

People either like or dislike any given social network. People who want to explore their passions might prefer either Reddit or Google+ Communities. Reddit's interface is a throwback to the 90s, and (like Craigslist) it's still clinging to the design-free, text-only model. Culturally, Reddit is more in tune with the Internet's Zeitgeist, while Google+ Communities are more insular. Reddit's upvoting system may improve the discovery of new stuff, while Google+ is vastly superior for conversations and discussions with other users.

Google+ Collections are pretty and richly visual like Pinterest. In general, Pinterest is more materialistic than Google+. The content is more about shopping and products, and it contains ads and "Buyable Pins." Google+ is far better than Pinterest for how-to and DIY-type content and still has zero ads. Google+ skews male, while something north of 70% of Pinterest users are female.

It's also worth noting that the new Google+ makes the social network better for new, casual users and worse for experienced, active ones.

One big change is the automation of comment flagging. Google used to flag potential problem comments and place them in a secure area where only the person who made the post could see them. From there, they could be deleted or restored. Now, Google does this automatically without giving post owners the ability to override the system. So now I see that about 10% of the good, constructive comments made on my post are flagged as spam and I can't do anything about it. This change even affects Communities, where community moderators have been sidelined by a flawed automation system. For new users, however, it's all much easier because there's no comment moderation to worry about (and unlike early adopters, they won't have to unlearn the old system as they adapt to the new changes).

I conducted an informal poll and found that the new Google+ redesign is extremely polarizing: Users either love it or hate it.

Who uses Google+?

Over the past few years, Google+ has developed an interesting user base. For starters, hardcore Google and Android fans love the place, and they are heavily represented. Google employees and executives use it heavily, and Google makes many official announcements on the site.

 

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