Google just unveiled an overhaul of Google Plus, a social network that has gone through many transformations since it launched in 2011. The site now has an emphasis on communities, giving people a place to meet likeminded individuals online. Google said it will host forums for everyone from hummingbird enthusiasts to astrophotographers.
“Today we’re taking a big step toward making Google+ an even better place for your interests,” Luke Wroblewsk, a Google product director, said in a blog post. “To do so, we’ve drastically simplified nearly every aspect of the product.”
The two main upgrades include Communities and Collections, one is about discussing topics like Game of Thrones and the other is about posting content related to hobbies and interests.
Since it seems Google Plus couldn’t quite topple Facebook, the new focus makes it more like Pinterest or Reddit, giving people a place to share content around their unique tastes.
Google has never truly broken down how much activity Google Plus receives, but a recent report from Business Insider said that Google Plus has 2.2 billion people signed up, but less than 10 percent post there. Still, it’s a key part of any brand or publishing strategy, because Plus can impact search results.
The site has a lot of people signed up because Google owns platforms like Android, Gmail and YouTube, which funnel signups to Plus. At launch, Plus was meant to embed itself in every aspect of Google’s business and services, ambitions that were severely curtailed in recent years. For instance, Google tried to get all YouTube users to sign in with Google Plus to leave comments on videos, but that was eventually overturned.
Still, regardless of activity, Google Plus is ubiquitous. The app comes installed on every Android phone, and comScore ranks it as No. 4 in reach, behind Facebook, YouTube and Messenger. “While this is an exciting new beginning for us, we’re definitely not done yet,” Wroblewski wrote. “We got here by listening and learning, and will continue doing so.”
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