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There are so many horrible tech journalists. Thanks for telling the truth +Mike Elgan 
Sorry, tech press. Google+ is alive and well.

(Read my column: http://goo.gl/Z6sQ6w )

A chorus of tech journalists this week is saying that Google is phasing out its social network, Google+.

Where did they get this juicy nugget of information? Well, they made it up. And I'll tell you why.

But first, let's look at what the press is saying and compare that with reality:

http://www.eweek.com/cloud/google-is-alive-and-well-despite-persistent-media-reports.html

#GooglePlus #Google+
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The Future of Google+
No, it's not being dismantled.
Pinterest as Google+'s New Target

If it's not abundantly clear already, Pinterest is emerging a much more clear competitive frame for understanding the future of Google+. It's an over-simplification, as there are significant difference, but it's still a useful one. 

A Newly Emerging Google Plus Strategy
The catalyst for this post were some thoughts from Bradley Horowitz just a couple hours ago: 

"Relieved of the notion of integrating with every other product at Google, Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine."

Connecting people around "interests they love" is another way of saying connecting people through an "interest graph." The battle for the social graph is pretty much over, and Facebook clearly won. Google's new strategy is a clear acknowledgement of this and an indication that it sees the battle for the interest graph as: a) important and b) far from decided. 
 
So, why is the interest graph so important, you ask? 

Supporting the Knowledge Graph 
Google is making a huge bet on its Knowledge Graph, as a central strategy for maintaining the technological superiority of its search engine. In fact, you could say that this service is actually in the midst of transforming from a search engine to a knowledge engine. Google Now is the visible end of this wedge, a wedge which will soon emerge as a Virtual Personal Assistant, and eventually as a much more powerful artificial intelligence agent. 

Understanding which people care about and have influence on particular topics will be one of the very valuable products of deepening Google+ investments in the interest graph. That, in turn, will strengthen the company's ability to execute on its Knowledge Graph strategy. 

The Bigger Battle with Amazon
In the big picture, the real competitive battle that Google faces as a company - is with Amazon. People were recently asked their top three places for researching gift purchases in the holiday season. “Online search” registered 45%, down from 49% a year ago. Meantime, the channel growing the most in popularity was the one that includes Amazon, jumping to 37% from 31%. 

The Google-Amazon battle is actually a battle of business models, with Google running an advertising strategy and Amazon a commerce strategy. Sure, there are exceptions, and the lines can get very blurry with things like "buy now" button ads, but by and large, that is how the competition is falling out. When you think about it, the searches that Amazon is increasingly winning from Google are searches that are most closely tied to actual sales. They are, in other words, some of the most lucrative advertising that Google has. 

Going back to the interest graph, perhaps more than any other company in the world, Amazon has a very detailed and extremely valuable mapping of the products and services you care about. It has, in short, a very lucrative interest graph, deeply embedded into its commerce business model. 

As noted above, monetization isn't the only reason that Google is building its interest graph. That said, it will be monetizing its interest graph, and it will be doing that through an advertising strategy - not primarily a commerce strategy like Amazon's. 

The Pinterest Opportunity
Pinterest was founded in 2010, one of many startups launched around that timeframe based on the premise of the interest graph. The rest have long-since failed, but Pinterest is now valued at $11 billion and its revenue generating potential is just starting to build steam. 

Pinterest's monetization efforts around things like "buy now" buttons are generating lots of intrigue, but I believe the company represents something more than that. They are a kind of fusion between online advertising and a retail environment. Pinterest's CEO Ben Silbermann likes to differentiate Pinterest from Google by noting that the service is about "discovery," not "search." People like to browse collections in Pinterest, to become inspired, to have their interests piqued, to discover stuff through seeming serendipity that they weren't specifically seeking in the first place. In other words, there's a kind of grazing, browsing behavior on Pinterest that does sort of feel like a retail store. 

In other words, Pinterest, with its strength in discovery, falls someplace in between the Amazon and Google commerce and advertising strategies. Just as importantly, behind the scenes, Pinterest is building an interest graph, tied to commercially valuable topics. And unlike Amazon, they're not integrating this interest graph with the core competencies of warehousing, returns, fulfillment and other aspects of a commerce company. In short, they're building the kind of interest graph that's of interest to an advertising giant; an interest graph chock-full with all kinds of insights into what end users care most about. 

Like Google. 

The Differences
Just to be clear: I'm not saying that Google+ will or should suddenly start looking and behaving like Pinterest. Despite the new Collections feature, Google+ is a very different beast. I would be very surprised if we woke up one day to find "buy it now" buttons showing up on Google+. And I don't even think that we'll be seeing many collections of "my favorite lipsticks" or "my favorite dresses" - the kinds of collections that are very common and natural on Pinterest. 

That just isn't the culture here on Google+. No, I don't see Google attempting to replicate the kind of "retail" environment strategy that Pinterest seems to be headed towards. The management here is smart enough to recognize the culture differences between G+ and Pinterest. Although now that Google+ is freed from its broader corporate mandates, which I think helped it take a pass on revenue-generating expectations, I will go on record here saying that I would not be at all surprised to find Google reversing its policy of 'no ads' here on Google+ - possibly within the next year or two.

What I do see quite clearly is Google moving down a path where Google+ becomes a more powerful addition to its interest graph building capacity. Search is already a very powerful tool for tracking end user interests over time. What it's missing is the ability to note interest in a more passive browsing mode. This is the discovery mode that Pinterest makes so much of, and it maps nicely to the streams, photos and sharing that now describes the team that will be remaking Google+. 


 
Bradley Horowitz post on Google+ changes:
https://plus.google.com/+BradleyHorowitz/posts/Aq59SxzyjWT

Pinterest CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann, talking about Pinterest's strategy and the central importance of the interest graph:
https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/video-ben-talks-about-interest-graph-and-future-pinterest

The Interest Graph Maps Our Connections to Ideas and Things
http://www.the-vital-edge.com/shared-interest-graph-in-work/

Google’s  Biggest Competitor…is Amazon
https://medium.com/@gideonro/the-google-amazon-slugfest-8a3a07a1d6dd

What is Google+ (Really)?
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GideonRosenblatt/posts/fxp3viNzg9d

#sharedinterestgraph   #pinterest   #amazon   #googleplus  
    
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Sadly, this was a feature overabused by spammers, scammers, and #megaball  nonsense.
#Breaking Shared Circles on Google+: Deprecated

+AyJay Schibig and +John R. Ellis have told us about the missing share buttons on the circles page. After checking our database we can confirm that there haven't been any new shared circles in the last 1.5 days.

The Top Contributors +John Elstone, +Marc-André Beauchamp and +John Skeats have confirmed that the shared circles are being deprecated.

Shared Circles have always been pretty difficult.
Sharing a circle is a pretty useful feature. You can help a new Google+ User get a good starting point without having to use the SUL (=Suggested User List).
But it was also used often in a bad way ("reshared to get included") which led to unrelated/uninterested new followers.

Regardless of what you think about shared circles, it feels pretty strange that this feature is being removed. At least our service isn't called SharedCircleCount, so that we don't have to worry about loosing this feature ;)

What do you think?
Is it a good or a bad move?
Will it help improving the engagement on Google+?

#googleplusupdate   #sharedcircle  
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Upgrade and Updates!
Among other things that were updated - I've also added a template that you can use to create Collections images. Either use the JPG with your own editing software, or if you use Adobe Photoshop, you can use the PSD file included there. Head to the Image section and download the template for yourself! http://andrij.co/blog/google-plus-collections#coverimage

#GooglePlus    #Collections
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Andrij “Andrew” Harasewych commented on a post on Blogger.
Updates, Updates, Updates!
Already added a "Benefits" section as well as a "FAQ" section, plus the super awesome GIF that Google provided about creating collections on your Android device!

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Google Plus has always been special for the quality of the community and conversation.
Now they are taking it to a whole new level, by releasing a feature that Google Plus diehards like myself have been waiting for since its launch. Looking forward to a more relevant, natural stream of the things that are truly important to each user.

#Google+ #GooglePlus #Collections

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Announcement from Google. See the complete guide at andrij.co/blog/google-plus-collections

Don't mind the meta title typo. That's what I get for using my phone to prep the post. Autocorrect struck again! It's updated, and should refresh with Google soon enough. 

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Announcement from Google. See the complete guide at andrij.co/blog/google-plus-collections
Introducing Google+ Collections, a new way to group your posts by topic

Our happiest Google+ users are those who connect with others around shared interests and passions. So we set out to give people a place to express the things they love. Today, we’re announcing Google+ Collections, a new way to group your posts by topic.

Every collection is a focused set of posts on a particular topic, providing an easy way for you to organize all the things you’re into. Each collection can be shared publicly, privately, or with a custom set of people. Once you create your first collection, your profile will display a new tab where other people can find and follow your collections.

Posts in collections you follow will appear in your Home stream, with a link to easily jump right into the collection so you can get to similar content from that author. Collections give you a great way to find more of the stuff you love from the people you follow.

Collections is available on Android and the web, and iOS is coming later. For Android users, make sure to update your Google+ app to get access to Collections.

For inspiration on interesting topics, check out our Featured Collections page here: g.co/collections

Create your collections today and share what you love.

If you have questions then also be sure to check out our Help Center content http://goo.gl/zyIVMH; if you still can’t find an answer then please post your question in the Collections subcategory. 

Best,
Moritz & Claire
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Something big is happening tomorrow morning, right here on Google+

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What is the real truth about Google+ activity? Find out in this epic post from +Mark Traphagen 
The Hard Numbers for Google Plus Activity

JUST PUBLISHED: +Eric Enge's massive study of over half a million Google+ profiles

Click here >> http://stonet.co/GPlusRealNumbers

Learn how much public posting actually occurs on Google+ from real data on real Google+ profiles.

Please share this important study!

Read at http://stonet.co/GPlusRealNumbers

#plusonly  
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