Welcome to Google+ Collections! Here’s How to Use Them. [PHOTOS]

The +Google+ Collections feature is something that Plussers have been wanting for a long time (see, for example, +Jeff Sayre's post from 2011: http://goo.gl/2VO5uy). We wanted to be able to publish posts grouped by a specific topic, so that people could follow our posts for just that specific topic. Collections does just that - you can get the specific posts from a person that look interesting by following their Collection on that topic. You don’t have to publish or subscribe to posts on Google+ using Collections, so you can still see the variety of what’s available - just more of what you like the most. I have been using Collections in the pre-launch test group, and I think that it works great in both the Web and the Google+ mobile app. 

Here’s how to get started (photos in this post’s album follow the steps in the text below, with additional comments and hints in the captions).

What Will I Start Seeing?
You’ll start seeing posts in your Stream and Notifications now with links to people’s Collections at the top of a post when they’ve published it using this feature. It looks like a link to a Community, but instead of the little green circle on the right, you’ll see a little blue diamond symbol (in the mobile Google+ app you’ll see a small blue triangle to the left of the Collection name). You will see posts from some Collections automatically if someone who you follow already has decided to use Collections.

To look at posts from a Collection that appear in your Stream, click on the Collections link at the top of the post and you’ll be able to look at that person’s whole Collection on that topic. If you’re not already following that Collection, just click on the “Follow” link on that Collection page to start seeing its posts in your Stream. If you want to see Notifications for these posts, click on that Collection’s Settings gear icon to turn their Notifications on (Notifications are off by default). If you don’t want to see posts from this Collection any more, just click on the “Following” link on the Collection’s home page and it won’t appear in your Stream or Notifications any more. Don’t worry, you can always change your mind and follow it again, and you can always visit a Collection’s page just to browse through it.

Another way to check out a person’s Collections is to click on their Google+ Profile link. You’ll see a Collections link at the top, right next to their Posts and Photos links. You can see your own Collections this way, or, click on the Collections link on the left-hand dropdown menu of Google+ to look at the Collections that you follow and that you post.

If I Don’t Follow a Collection, Will I Miss Seeing Things?
A Collection is set up to push new posts automatically to someone’s followers, so by default you will always see those posts. Some Collections, though, will be set up to push new posts only to those who choose to follow that Collection - even if you follow them in your Circles already. You can always to a Collection’s page in Google+ to follow it. You can also unfollow a person’s Collection if it doesn’t interest you. So Google+ is now like an awesome magazine stand - you’ll be able to follow posts on a given topic much more easily. And as with Communities, you can turn off Notifications for a Collection.

OK, sounds great. How do I start?
Well, to get Collections, you won’t have to do a thing - it’s all baked in to Google+ now. Look on the left-hand menu of Google+ services, right below the Photos link, if you want to look at a listing of the Collections that you follow and the Collections that you use to publish posts. You’ll see on that listing a link to recommended Collections - browse those to get a flavor for some of the great posts that are out there already in Collections. When you see a post from a Collection that looks interesting, follow it - if you don’t like it after a while, you can unfollow a Collection. You don’t have to Circle a person to follow their Collection, but following their Collection will increment their followers count.  

Awesome. how can I make my own Collections?
First, think of what you post on a regular basis. What topics do some people like best? Go to the Collections page for your account, and click on “Create a Collection.” choose whether you want it for your Public stream, everyone in your Circles, or click on “Custom” to choose specific Circles to see it. You can also set up an “Only me” Collection that only you will see - kind of like bookmarks. Now customise its look if you want (you can use your own photos if you’d like), and you’re ready! The people who you chose will see new posts in that Collection automatically (just like they do for posts without Collections). If you’d rather they have to follow that Collection first to get those posts - say, those baby photos that your family loves and that others might not want - then turn off the automatic follow setting in the Settings (gear) menu for that Collection. You’re all set!

OK, here goes, let’s build a Collection!
Well, first off, maybe you want to put some of your existing posts into that Collection first, so that people will understand what they’re getting. Find a post that you want in your Collection your own or someone else’s. Next to the Reshare button at the bottom of that post (The curved arrow) you’ll now see a little triangle that opens a menu for your Collections. Choose the Collection that you want this post to appear in, and click on it. That’s it - it’s now a part of your Collection! It won’t be pushed out to people who follow you as new posts- it’s already been published (If you want it to be like a new post, then click on the Reshare link at the top of this menu). Put as many existing posts into your Collection as you want, or none at all - you can start from scratch if you want. Now when you make a new post, you’ll see that the “To” drop-down menu will list your Collections just before your Circles. So posting to a Collection works just like posting to anything else in Google+. Very simple.

Great! I have a Collection. I want to tell the world about it!
Fantastic! That’s easy to do. Just go to that Collections home page, and you’ll see a curved arrow next to the Settings gear icon. That will set up a new post where you can choose who to tell about your Collection. That’s it! You’re in business - you have topic-specific Collections now that are just right for posting to the world, to special people or to just people who really like what you really like. Now, go follow some Collections so that you can make Google+ even better for finding the posts that you like the most! Tune out the over-noisy ones by turning off their Notifications if you like the Collection’s posts but want to look at it later. 

Does the Google+ mobile app work differently than the Web app for Collections?
The mobile app works pretty much exactly the same as the Web app for Collections. You will see suggested Collections in your Stream along with your upcoming Events and  

Awesome. What’s Next for Collections?
Collections is launching with a pretty basic feature set, but just keep the suggestions coming to the folks at Google. This makes Google+ a very powerful publishing platform - you can get just the kind of posts that you like from a person sooo much more easily. 
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