On April 24, 2014 Vic Gundotra tendered his resignation. Widely regarded as the driving force behind Google+, his leaving raises a lot of questions about the future of Google+. TechCrunch reports in it’s provocatively titled “Google+ Is Walking Dead” article that a significant number of staff is being shuffled away from the project.
Dawn Pier – Palacios Texas, courtesy of Tom Haymes via Flickr Commons
I’ve been using Google+ for about nine months, when I answered Mike Elgan’s Blogs of August challenge. Not really having a natural affinity to social media in general, I don’t post a lot, however for me Google+ is still valuable because of the communities. I’m active in the Technical SEO community and somewhat active in the WordPress community. I learn a lot from the very smart people that hang out in these communities and value them greatly as a resource. So I have no plans to abandon Google+, it fills a need for me that I can’t get anywhere else. Facebook? That’s where I hear from family and friends and some of the SMB focused marketers that I follow. Twitter? Never quite got the hang of it, and it seems to be full of relentless promoters. Linkedin? Great rolodex and some good discussions but not on the level of Google+.
There are some very loyal Google+ fans, witness Amanda Blain’s rant against the Ghost Town characterization, and there is no question that both companies and individuals have successfully leveraged the platform to their advantage. Daria Musk was an unknown when she sang in her first Hangout, and now she has a recording contract. Cadbury’s chocolate campaigns have been well received. There is a lot of excitement and energy around Hangouts. So Google+ is not down and out quite yet, if only because well, let’s face it – it’s Google – who’s monopolistic grip on the search space is in no danger of slipping.
While Google is quick to ditch projects (remember Google Reader?) that it no longer wants, I doubt this will be the fate of Google+. Google+, at least as a platform, is too integral to the vision of the identity web it’s pushing. It’s clear to me that Google hates anonymity because that is where spammers lurk. In Google’s ideal world, the search engine results pages should be full of articles from trusted and verified authorities who have proven their chops. What better way to achieve this then to have those experts set up their Google authorship via Google+? However we are a long way from that world, marketingprofs reports 38% adoption by the top 500 sites, and Google knows this.
It’s interesting to see that Google is backing off from the “forced” integration of the single Google+ identity with all its other services. Like a lot of people, I resisted “linking” my YouTube account with Google+. And the integration of Google Places with Google+ has also been a bit of mess. While I don’t have any illusions that Google has abandoned it’s vision of what I am calling the “identity web”, the company is still sensitive to unhappy users (and the YouTube integration made a LOT of people unhappy), if there is enough of them. However I still expect Google to want to be the dominant identity service provider on the internet and continue with its model of providing free and valuable services such as gmail in exchange for getting its hand on valuable user behavior data. With social media a rich goldmine of user activity, I don’t see Google completely walking away.
So certainly Google+ as a platform will not go anywhere. What about Google+ as a network? Certainly the level of engagement you can find there is unparalleled. As Amanda reports, she has had 239,000 shares of her Google+ posts, compared to 6000 Retweets. Those are very compelling numbers. I’ve experienced something similar but at a much smaller level. So if the users have anything to say about it, Google+ is not going anyway anytime soon.
Crying baby image courtesy of techtastico.com
Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.