Google+ Collections Just Skyrocketed My Views by 700%/
June 3, 2015
The new Collections feature on Google+ was all anyone could talk about on May 4th. Collections were covered by CNET, Engadget, The Verge, TechCrunch, Mashable, and on and on and on.
Then May 5th and nothing. Like, quiet on all fronts. Cue the Google+ jokes.
Nearly every article focused on the “Is this the new Pinterest?” angle, which is click-baity and easy to hype. Very few articles tried to help marketers understand if this release had any clear value. (Special shout out to Bill Slawski for a fascinating look at how Google can use Collections to cluster and better understand topics and Mike Blumenthal for assessing potential uses for local marketers.)
But the question remains:
Do Collections Have Any Value?
I was an early adopter, launching a featured collection the first day, and the initial results were staggering. I accrued 200,000 profile views within the first two days. That number climbed to 600,000 within the first two weeks. Now, roughly four weeks after launch, my total views have climbed by about 750,000.
My first thought: That’s a lot of exposure.
Second thought: What does that actually mean?
Evaluating 750,000 Google+ Views
The better part of one million profile impressions has value, clearly, but how much? Here are several things I have noticed over the last four weeks, aside from all of the profile views.
1. Collections Increase Post Engagement
My last 6 public posts leading up to the launch of Collections had 3 +1s and reshares. Total. (Really, I’m much more approachable than my Google+ profile would have suggested.)
After Collections, my most recent 6 posts have 163 +1s and reshares. That’s a 5000% increase in measurable engagement.
2. Collection Followers Are Not Profile Followers
My top Collection, Best New Data Visualizations, quickly amassed 2,000+ followers. Compare that to the 250ish that follow me personally. That’s quite a difference.
Despite the (relatively) large Collection following, my personal following only increased by 3 over the last month. Put another way: 750,000 views led to 3 new people in my network. That conversion rate leaves a bit to be desired.
3. Views Are Not Visits
I was amazed by the volume of both views and interactions. But neither of those would make a business any money. The best way to monitize this feature, I figured, was to drive traffic back to a website. If 750,000 views led to 750,000 website visits, these Collections would have my full attention.
I used click tracking on my two latest posts to test traffic potential. These two posts only generated 10 combined clicks.
How Collections Become More Interesting
A coworker, the wise Dan Wilkerson, pointed out that the potential of Collections is far more interesting than the reality. Here’s another reason keep your eye on Collections.
Collections in the Search Results
With the exception of personalized results, I am have not often seen Collections in Google’s search results. I had to use a site: search to find my own.
Collections could provide a new way to compete in the organic search results for competitive terms, like “data visualization,” for which this collection does not currently rank in the first 5 pages. Perhaps a more authoritative business page, already of capable of creating their own Collections, could fare better.