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Google Declares Google+ Will Continue As A Connection Platform

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unnamedGoogle+, since it’s existence in the social media world had indeed made a grand entry with constant efforts by Google to make the platform user-friendly and overtake facebook’s popularity that it had believed may have had happened, but unfortunately everything went in vain for the Google+ makers and it turned out to be a doom where the platform wasn’t a huge success among social media users and it was nowhere near around what Facebook and Twitter was for the users.

The reason being :

  • Google+ the social network and user data infrastructure of Google is not going away.
  • However, Google+ the brand may change significantly (or even disappear).
  • That change may be driven by the realization that the future for big online advertising companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google is not so much in social engagement on one mega-network as it is in user data acquisition.
  • The Google+ project has been an incredible success (even if the social network never achieved the success of Facebook) because it drove the unification of Google products, the creation of a unified user privacy policy and sign in, and supercharged the data acquisition needs of Google.

The confirmation that Google+ isn’t going away has been made clear with some focus into the matter. Google CEO Larry Page concluded that the company would “continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever increasing number of Google+ fans.” Other Google employees chimed in on Google+ threads to add their affirmations that Google+ wasn’t going anywhere. It’s nice to have those statements from top people at Google, but (understandably) you might be hesitant to take their word for it. I don’t think you have to. There are more fundamental reasons why I think Google is far from done with Google+. It just doesn’t make sense that Google would now dismantle Google+. Google+ isn’t an added-on product with an off switch you can flip in a moment. It is now truly baked in to the very infrastructure of almost all of Google’s online products and services. Some have noted that Google has in the past killed products without sentimentality. That is true, but turning off something like Google Reader was like removing a sock. Dismantling Google+ would be more like ripping out a person’s central nervous system. Furthermore, because of that intensive integration into nearly all of Google, Google+ performs a number of valuable functions for Google, even apart from the social network that is its most visible component. (Much more about that in my third assertion.) So, I don’t think Google+ is going anywhere.

Deemphasization of Google+

Whether by bad luck or mishandling, or some combination of the two, the Google+ brand has never gained positive traction in public perception. Almost three years in, those of us who are advocates of the platform find ourselves still almost daily having to defend it from ridicule. That’s not a good position for any brand name. However unfairly, the Google+ name has become almost indelibly linked by non-users with “fail,” “ghost town” and something that Google pushes unwanted on users of its other products. After three years, it may be time to admit that the opportunity to overcome that perception has been missed. It may be that the social network continues to be known as Google+, but we stop hearing “Google+ is Google” type statements from Google. Perhaps, as Danny Sullivan speculated, user accounts may return to being just Google accounts. We might see the cessation of Google nagging (or in some cases, forcing) everyone to “sign up for Google+” in order to use other Google products.

Social networking platform isn’t the last thing

Facebook was first to see this. Over the past two years, their users have shifted overwhelmingly to mobile. That created a real crisis for Facebook. Facebook has been entirely revenue-dependent on advertising inside their own platform, and mobile is notoriously advertising-averse. At the same time, Facebook’s revenue model is perhaps even more threatened by another trend: the increasing move of users toward smaller, hyper-niche networks. Many users, and especially the younger set who are the future, seem to be increasingly wary of the “wide open” nature of big social networks. They just want to chat with their close friends, but the big networks tend to make conversations too open, pulling in all sorts of people they don’t necessarily want to interact with. The first response of these networks was to offer audience segmentation options, such as Circles in Google+ or Friends Lists on Facebook. The problem with such segmentation options, though, is that very few users ever use them. It’s just too much work to create all those circles or lists. Furthermore, doing that doesn’t actually match up with the way we engage with people in the real world. Joe may be a co-worker, but he also may be a close friend. However, he may not be someone I want to talk politics with. In the terms of Facebook relationships statuses, “it’s complicated.” So users are turning to micro-network apps such as Instagram, SnapChat, and WhatsApp for two reasons: they are entirely mobile, which is where more and more users spend most of their online time; and, they can easily be set up to engage one tight circle of friends.

Failure of brand Google+ and success of platform Google+

Google+ to succeed as a true social network. I certainly think that was Vic Gundotra’s dream. As much as some like to say, “Don’t look at G+ as a Facebook killer,” do we really doubt for a moment that Google wouldn’t have loved if it were? Look at the first year ad campaigns for Google+ (see an example below). They basically came across as, “Hey, look, you can do everything on G+ that you do on Facebook, but with better privacy (Circles)!” Obviously, that wasn’t a big enough disruption for most people to make the shift. Even if they believed that Google+ was better designed and really did make privacy more up front than Facebook, the Facebook momentum was too much to overcome. Many of us G+ evangelists made fun of the “but my friends aren’t on G+” mentality, but it honestly carried tremendous weight.

Image Credits: Google

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