This probably won’t matter to basically anyone who isn’t a marketer or techie, but Google has finally announced they are doing away with Google Plus. The writing has been on the wall for years really, but picked up steam with the departure of Vic Gundotra, who left just about a year ago right now.
So what happened? Well, it never reached critical mass. Not that many people outside of SEOs (I mean, which SEO company doesn’t want a link from a DA 100 site) and certain groups ever really used it. And as someone who spent time in the trenches, I have a pretty strong feeling as to why it fizzled.
First, it never really differentiated itself. Facebook is for socializing, Twitter is direct messaging and broadcasting, LinkedIn is professional, Tumblr is for entertainment, and the list goes on. The difference is that each successful social network has its own niche, a way that’s different from all the others. Google Plus had a wall, like Facebook, had circles (which I compare to being a contact in LinkedIn)….and that was about. With no niche defined it was kind of like Facebook 2.0, but not an advancement. It was just another property to update, with far less people and interaction. Because it didn’t stand out, no one went over to it. Why build something that is already built somewhere else?
Also, there was the complexity. You obviously had to have a Google account, and I guess if all you wanted was Google Plus it might not have been a big deal. But the fact is that no one joins Google for that – it’s usually for another service like Youtube or Gmail. And therein lies a problem, which is probably best told with a story.
Here’s what happened to me. I had a Gmail account, and then set up a Google Plus account. Of course I added some content and got it verified. Then I decided to use Gmail for my domain email via Google Apps for Business (I didn’t know at that time there is a free option to import domain email accounts via POP). No big deal. Except I had to create a whole new Google account.
Everything business related should be tied to same account, and so I transferred ownership of the established Google Plus page to my new account…but I had already used that account to set up a Youtube channel, and of course that creates a Google Plus account that cannot be deleted (warning: link contains coarse language) This little detail of course only comes to light after the fact. So now I have 2 Gmail accounts, 2 Google Plus accounts…and my YouTube channel is linked to the wrong Google Plus page.
It’s not that big of a deal, but it is irritating. And I’ll fix it for the links, but what do you think the average person would do? Yup – never come back. Contrast that to joining Twitter…you sign up, follow a few people, tweet a few things and you’re done. Simple.
Which brings us to the caveat of sites like these. Web 2.0 or social sites come and go, so it’s best not to have your business using ones of these for its primary web presence. Remember MySpace? How about Flickr? While the latter is still around, it is nowhere near what it once was, or could have been. But that’s a whole other story.
I think social accounts should be used to broaden a brands reach, and give customers a platform through which they can communicate with the business. In return, the business has an established communication route should PR crisis unfold. It comes across as a little disingenuous building them out after the #$%^ hits the fan.
Anyway, good riddance Google Plus. I can’t say you’ll be missed.