The rise of Google+ and its new communities launch

There has been big news recently about one of the latest digital media tools and, so far, one of my favourites: Google+.

In a blog post last week, Google announced that the number of people that currently use its social network has surpassed 500 million. Out of these 500 million Google+ users, 135 million of them are said to be active members.

I consider myself one of them. Its Hangout (group video chat) feature is what I like the most. I’ve used them for Stutter Social sessions, interviews with various folks and general meetings. Its circles feature is also appealing, as it allows you to group your connections in different “circles” and share specific content with particular circles based on relevance.

Google also announced the launch of its latest Google+ feature: communities, which allow users to join private and public groups based on specific topics and interests, similar to Facebook groups.

“From photography to astronomy (and everything in between), Google+ has always been a place to crowd around common interests and meet new people,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior VP of Engineering, in the Google blog post. “What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there.”

Google+ users can join public or private communities on a variety of topics, or create their own communities. Within them, you can share content or engage with fellow community members in discussion categories, and start a community-specific Hangout or event.

The feature’s interface is clean and users aren’t overwhelmed with ads like on Facebook.

With a number of innovative features, Google+ certainly has a lot of potential. Gundotra described it as “the fastest growing network thingy ever.” And Mashable reported that the network’s “user growth is certainly impressive, though at 135 million monthly active users, the social network is still behind competitors like Facebook, which now has 1 billion monthly active users, and Twitter, which passed 140 million monthly active users in March.”

Please feel free to check out my recent guest blog post for IABC/Toronto on how Google+ can be particularly useful for marketing and communications professionals. If you’re on Google+, feel free to share your thoughts on its communities and other features.

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