Thus far Google+ hasn’t really grabbed me as a much use service for organisations wishing to build communities online. They are however rolling out a new feature called Google+ Communities that will be worth checking out.
It’s Google’s attempt at replicating the Groups feature on Facebook, and offers users the facility to create a group and connect up with others of like mind.
Now that’s very nice and all, but there are lots of other sites that already offer that kind of functionality, and many will already have well established communities on other platforms, or even on their own sites.
The new Google+ Communities therefore seem designed to provide extra functionality for those that already actively use the platform to engage with people, thus providing them with a central space to share their thoughts, photos or whatever.
The feature isn’t available to all users yet, but is being rolled out as we speak. Initial use suggests that in terms of functionality, Google+ Communities are richer than Facebook Groups, and there does appear to be a gap in this marketplace.
I’m far from convinced that LinkedIn groups offer facilities for professionals to talk about whatever topic they want, but the majority of groups are over-run by people looking to promote rather than engage. A quick scan of the stats for each group reveals far more posts than comments, which doesn’t suggest they are particularly engaged.
So I can see these new community areas as having potential when it comes to individuals finding people with similar interests for focused and professional discussions. I still think however that in terms of social business, most value will come from branded communities elsewhere. It will however be interesting to see how this new functionality evolves.
You can see the promo video for Google+ Communities below. For those that have had a look around, what are your initial thoughts?