Is Google Plus Toast?

Google Plus is just 3 years old, far to young to have already entered that “awkward” stage. But just like a maturing adolescent, Google Plus seems to be trying to find itself, to figure out what it is, and to find the crowd it wants to run with.

Recent events have broadcast strong signals that its dream of being a major social network has begun hitting the wall of reality. Kind of like that moment it dawned on you the band you formed with your slacker friends that practiced in your basement was NOT going to be the next Beatles.

When that moment arrives, the next logical step is to figure out what plan B is going to be. Plan A was to make G+ a foundation from which identities (real, not anonymous) would be established, and that would be used to log into all Google’s products and services. Thoughts of being a full-on competitor to the likes of Facebook reportedly faded coinciding with the departure of the farther of Google Plus, Vic Gundotra.

Technically, Plan A was a success. The single login was created and G+ was integrated into YouTube and Gmail. If you wanted to use Hangouts, Photos, Talk, gChat, Auto Backup, you were going to be a G+ user. In fact, if you used Google products for personal and work, you were probably going to have several G+ accounts. Many blanched at the imposition of it, but Google Plus user numbers soared.

Now recent developments:

All things that make you go hmm, as is the fact some users got a survey from Google asking what they’d think if G+ didn’t exist anymore. Data says it wouldn’t exactly rock monthly schedules. Nielsen saw in November US site users spent an average 6 hours, 15 minutes there, compared to G+’s visitors spending an average 7 minutes on that site. Smartphone usage paints a similar story.

And yet…you’ll find plenty of Google Plus defenders. Forrester’s Nate Elliott points out 22% of US online adults told them they visited G+ monthly, the same as Twitter and beating out LinkedIn, Pinterest, & Instagram. Of even more interest to marketers, they saw that on average, top brands gathered 90% more fans on G+ than on Twitter. Like engagement? Looking at interactions with over 2,500 brand posts across 7 social networks, Forrester saw G+ generate almost as much per follower engagement as Facebook, and almost twice Twitter’s engagement.

But arguments that Google Plus is an effective social network don’t mean much if Google itself does not intend for G+ to be a social network. Analysts like Scott Strawn of International Data believe it will instead be a means of linking Google products, this time more for business customers & purposes vs. for connecting and sharing by the masses, with the Google Plus brand moving steadily into the background.

So even if you want to say that Google Plus as a social network is “toast,” that doesn’t mean it can’t then be effectively reimagined for different purposes, like say croutons.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial


Wow, missing so much with this article.

It is a lazy sign of journalism to take a rumor of a rumor and present as fact. You claim that surveys happened, but you quoted another lousy piece from ibtimes, that said:

"“I don’t believe that G+ is going anywhere, but coincidentally I received a survey from Google about G+ on Tuesday,” Google user Curtis Jacob wrote on a Google Plus thread. “Some of the questions even asked what I would think if G+ didn’t exist anymore.”"

The original post doesn't even exist any more! I doubt it was legitimate whatsoever. There is only one Curtis Jacob it seems, and he has 300 followers, I highly doubt Google is asking his opinion and advice.

On top of the fact that the ibtimes completely misread the real news. Just because teams for photos move to android doesn't mean the death of Google+, lol. Google+ is the central nervous system for every Google product. Please do some research.

Posted by Andrij Harasewych on August 08, 2014 at 01:12 PM EDT #

I appreciate your passion, it underscores one of the points made in the piece that those who embrace the Google ecosystem are true champions of it.

And I agree 100% with your final graph. The post is not that G+ is going away, but that it is possibly being re-imagined or repurposed.

Posted by Mike Stiles on August 08, 2014 at 01:36 PM EDT #

Good to hear, sorry so harsh the first time around, this just came off a bit too much like the TechCruch "Everything-That-We-Don't-Personally-Use-Is-Dead" technique of judging things for my tastes ;)

But yeah, I would definitely change:

"All things that make you go hmm, as is the fact some users got a survey from Google asking what they’d think if G+ didn’t exist anymore. "

"All things that make you go hmm, as is the fact that one user claimed to have received a survey from Google asking what he'd think if G+ didn’t exist anymore, on a Google+ post quoted by ibtimes that does not in fact exist any more." Or you know, something to that effect.

Posted by Andrij Harasewych on August 08, 2014 at 01:53 PM EDT #

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