Tuesday 27 May, 2014
Some recent changes at Google+ have led internet pundits to proclaim its death. They’re saying Google’s shot at social media supremacy is dead in the water. If this is true, it’s really bad news for marketers who have invested time and energy in using the site to reach their audience.
But “Google+ Is Dead” is a much sexier headline than one that reflects the truth – that Google+ is changing and it won’t be the same social media site you’ve been using.
Senior VP Gundotra Steps down
Why are people saying Google+ is dead? Much of it has to do with the departure of Vic Gundotra, who served as senior VP for Google’s social division. For the last eight years, Google+ has been his baby and now he’s jumping ship without giving any clear reason for doing so. Many see this as a warning sign that the social media network is going to crash and burn.
Although Gundotra’s leaving is big news, it’s not necessarily the end. It’s conjectured that his leaving is related to changes that the site is undergoing which are already in progress.
You Either Love It or You Hate It
That subtitle pretty much sums up people’s reactions to Google+. Its adherents love it because of its excellent features, many of which are improvements upon similar features offered by Facebook and Twitter. They also like the site’s clean interface and potential for marketing as the world’s biggest search engine’s social media site.
However, others signed up because they had to. Google forces you to sign up when you want to use its other services, even if you don’t plan to use Google+ and/or are sketched out by privacy concerns. For example, if you want to simply comment on a YouTube video, you need a Google+ account whether you want one or not. This has been universally hated.
Ironically, this forced integration may be one cause of the site’s failure to take on other major social media sites. By integrating with every other service, Google+ becomes somewhat subsumed under Google’s many other products like YouTube and Gmail. It loses the unique identity that’s a major part of the appeal of Facebook and other major networks.
Changes at Google+
We’re not quite sure how Google+ is changing but pundits are having their say. It seems pretty certain that the forced integration is going to go. It seems that the people have spoken and Google has listened. It’s been reported that some of the site’s features will be moved to other platforms so that users can use them there. This means even more dilution for Google+.
Google denies that any major change in strategy is taking place, contrary to what people are saying in the blogosphere. But it’s definitely not the end of Google+. It may be its end as a major player in the social media scene, and is probably the end of its competition with Facebook and Twitter. But there’s no reason to think it will die completely.
One more thing to consider is that all social media sites are starting to lag. Facebook has fewer new users than ever before (although this could be because everyone has already signed up) and Twitter is losing users. What’s most likely is that social media is diversifying. People are leaving huge, generic platforms in favor of the many small niche social media sites that are popping up.