Has the era of Google+ finally come to an end? The search engine juggernaut won’t concede defeat, but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, particularly to social media aficionados. Despite all of its hopes and dreams for the fledgling social network, Google+ never really took off. But it will remain a part of our social media vernacular for the near term.
This week, Google began its retreat from Google+ when it announced that it’ll no longer require users to connect their Google+ accounts with a wide variety of digital products, like YouTube.
The company confirmed in a blog post on Monday that users will not have to maintain a Google+ account to share content, post a comment on a video, launch a YouTube channel or communicate with contacts across the website. Soon, users who linked their Google+ profiles to YouTube will be able to remove their profiles from the service.
Also, starting this week, YouTube comments won’t show up on Google+ profiles, and vice versa. However, Google warned users not to delete their Google+ accounts right now because then their YouTube channels will be deleted. Patience will be a necessity over the coming weeks.
"In the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google,” the company wrote in a blog post. “YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change.”
Google did say that further updates will be released over the next several weeks.
"When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life,” the company added. “While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes.”
Google+ maintains approximately two billion profiles, but just between four and six million users have made public posts in the past month. Google+ says it has 300 million active users, but only one-quarter of users visit the website on a monthly basis.
What happened to Google+? The benefits of using Google+ were supposed to be amazing for its users, and the plan was to overtake Facebook and become the biggest thing since sliced bread. Instead, it experienced hiccups and became a laughing stock to the social media industry.
Here are 8 reasons why Google+ failed:
1. Google+ Team Says It's a 'Complete Failure'
When engineers call an endeavor by the company a "complete failure" then you know something is wrong at the Silicon Valley juggernaut. But this is what happened when one employee published a 4,000-word essay on why Google+ is a failure.
Steve Yegge, a senior engineer at Google, opined that Google+ is a superb example of the company’s lack of understanding of platforms from the executives to the low-level employees.
"We all don’t get it. The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought," Yegge wrote. "We had no API at all at launch, and last I checked, we had one measly API call. One of the team members marched in and told me about it when they launched, and I asked: ’So is it the Stalker API?’ She got all glum and said ’Yeah.’ I mean, I was joking, but no... the only API call we offer is to get someone’s stream. So I guess the joke was on me."
Yegge alluded to many other explanations and examples as to why Google+ has been a failure since its launch a few years ago (but we’ll leave those goodies for later). Essentially, when a senior internal engineer is blasting a major product of one of the biggest companies in the world today, then you may have to reconsider your business model.
2. No One There, Nothing to do
Despite the claims of a huge user base, the fact is that no one’s there and there really is nothing to do. Facebook has nearly one billion active users while Google has around half of that.
Social media is meant to be social, but how can you do this when you’re the only person in the room. Moreover, Google+ didn’t have any features to remain engaged or active. Most people use Skype to video chat, Facebook to play games with others and Twitter to vent frustrations on a basketball game.
3. An Attack on Facebook
A couple of years ago, Facebook was one of the most hated social networks around. Of all the social media outlets around, Facebook was usually rated at the bottom. This is perhaps why Google thought there was an opening for a greater market share. However, Facebook has completely turned things around and is now one of the most popular social networks around because of its mobile-friendly activity and advertising efforts. Google+ couldn’t make Facebook crumble nor could it make a dent in Mark Zuckerberg’s armor.
4. It Wasn't New or Easy to Use
Today, there is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Yo! and the list goes on. In other words, the number of social networks out there is immense. In order for a social media platform to stand out in the modern day marketplace, it has to be new and fresh. Google+ wasn’t new or fresh because it was just the same old, tiring social network.
Moreover, Google+ wasn’t and still isn’t easy to use. Unfortunately, users still aren’t as savvy on Google+ as the company hoped everyone would be. As any website or company can attest to, the user experience (UX) is of the utmost importance. Once something is too hard to use then, the visitor will exit the digital premises.
5. Bad Press Flooded the Social Network
Since the opening of its web portal doors, blogs and newspapers haven’t had anything nice to say about Google+. Simply put: bad press engulfed the social network and turned people away, or soured current users towards the product. Everything from complaints about functionality to a paucity of innovation ensured that pundits and tech gurus weren’t too impressed. Now, any news story regarding Google+ is about its imminent demise.
6. Nothing Was Made Clear About SEO
Social media is integral to any website’s search engine optimization plans. Facebook and Twitter are key and make it clear how important they are to the SERPs. But what about Google+? Aside from rumors and innuendos, nothing was made clear. It was just assumed by writers and webmasters that if you maintained a Google+ account and connected it to your author account that you’d rank high on Google. No one knows to do this date if that’s true or not.
7. Mobile Was an Afterthought
As Facebook, Twitter and Instagram transformed into an important aspect of the mobile browsing experience, Google+ was still tweaking its service. Although there is a mobile-friendly version of Google+, it was too little too late. This serves as an important lesson for any new ventures: be sure to have a mobile presence almost immediately.
8. Most Important: Google Didn't Listen to Customers
Finally, Google did something completely different with this endeavor: it refused to listen to its users. The search engine became ultra successful because it gave the people what they wanted. Google+ didn’t. Whether it’s because of failed management or the arrogance of engineers, we don’t know. But for whatever reason, Google thought it knew better and just listened to itself as opposed to the general public.
Google+ will be here for a long time because if it shuts down then Google will have admitted defeat. Google doesn’t want to concede to any loss for a major product, ever. Although Google+ will now focus on its core user base with introductions of new apps and integration of successful products, Google+ will never reach the level of success that Facebook has achieved. It’s not possible. Perhaps Google should just hone in on what it does best: search engines, self-driving vehicles and Google News.
What are your views on Google+? Was it a massive fail or is it a valuable social network?