Google+ Collections: A new way to curate your digital life.
Google just released its newest addition to Google+ and it’s called Collections. So what in the world is it? How do you use it? Or even better— why?
Those are all great questions, and I’m so glad you asked!
According to the official Google+ Page:
Essentially, Google+ Collections are a way of grouping together posts in a specific category. Not only does this allow you to categorize your own posts, but other users can follow individual collections.
Think Pinterest boards.
Google+ users have wanted something like this for a long time— a way to follow only certain topics that people post about rather than having to follow everything they post.
This is quite a big leap from other social networks. Pinterest was really the first social network that allowed users to follow other users “boards” which are essentially categories of posts. No other social network that I’m aware of has this ability. Until now.
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Creating Google+ Collections
To create your first collection simply open up your Google+ menu and click on the Collections tab (or just click here). Once there you’ll see a white box with a ‘+’ sign with the phrase ‘Create a collection’ beneath it.
Name your collection something relevant. Make it descriptive of the type of things you plan on sharing into it. You can rename it later if you choose. Once you’ve named your collection you now need to set the visibility (or level of privacy).
Like most things on Google+ you have the option to make this Public or limit it to Your Circles, Only You or a custom privacy setting where you can choose exactly which circles and/or people will be able to see it.
It’s important to note though that once this setting is chosen, you cannot change it later. Once your Collection is created you then have the ability to customize it further. More on that later in the article. (Skip straight there.)
Posting to Google+ Collections
There are a few ways you can publish to collections and they’re all built into the current ways you can share to Google+.
Share from the Collection Page
The simplest way to share into a collection is to go right to the Collection itself and use the post box right at the top.
My guess is that you don’t always want to click all the way there in order to post something. That’s why the following methods will likely be more commonly used.
Normal Post Sharing
You can easily share to your Google+ collections just as you would a normal post on Google+. You can use the post box found in your streams, the ‘+’ box found next to your profile picture in the top right corner of Google+ or by resharing someone else’s post.
It works exactly the same as normal Google+ posting. All you need to do is start typing the name of your Collection into the To: field just as you would if you were sharing it to circles or to a Google+ Community.
Your Collection name will pop up and you can select it from the drop-down list. You’ll recognize that the items on the list are a Collection when the have the collections icon next to them.
Once you have selected a Collection all the circles will be removed from the box, just like if you were to share to a Community.
Move to Collections
You’ll also notice a new addition to the Share button— a small extension to that button with an arrow icon indicating a hidden menu.
When you use this you will get a quick drop-down list of your Collections and you can easily share the post to that collection.
There are two important nuances that you need to know about this feature though.
Firstly, if you use it on one of your posts, the post will be “Moved” to a Collection. That means it will change that post from being Public to now being a part of your Collection.
Secondly, if you’re doing this on a post that is not yours using this option will automatically reshare that post to the Collection you choose with just a single click. The caveat here is that you don’t get to add anything to the post— it’s like a one-click reshare.
Customizing Google+ Collections
One thing that I really love about the Google+ Collections is the customization ability. In addition to naming your collection you can also add a bit of personality to it in the form of a Cover Photo and color scheme.
When viewing your collection you can see a Customize option on the bottom right of the cover photo. Click that link and you are presented with a customization box like the one you see below.
You can choose one of the photos Google has provided from the scrolling list or you can Add your own photo as the cover.
If you choose to add your own cover photo you should take note that the size of the photo should be 1080px wide by 607px tall.
But also be aware that the top and the bottom of that image will be cropped out. 124px on top and 123px on the bottom of the image will remain hidden until a user clicks on the cover to reveal the entire thing.
So be sure that if you’re creating a custom cover that you place any critical elements in the center. This should be natural for those who have read my article about making visual content that doesn’t suck.
Collections Cover Template
Since I know you’re going to want to customize your Google+ Collections to make them super-attractive for your legions of followers, I’ve got another one of my cover photo templates for you. I’ve done the work of marking out all the important dimensions and guides to make sure you know exactly how to frame your cover.
(Click image for full size.) Go ahead and steal this template to be your blueprint for Google+ Collection covers. I’ve got it all mapped out so you know exactly where to position things in the center and avoid the circular arrow icons.
One Last Thing
There’s no better way to experience and learn collections than to actually just start playing with them! I recommend you visit the Featured tab on your Collections page and follow a handful of Collections that look interesting. Here’s a few I have created that you might like:
And you can see all of the Collections I’ve created on my Collections page.
Now go create some awesome stuff and share it with the world!
What are your thoughts about the new Google+ Collections? Do you think it will completely change how you share on Google+? You can leave a comment by clicking here.