The Life and Death of Google+

The Life and Death of Google+

NewsSearch Engine OptimizationSocial Media

It seems like every few months, a new development in the slow and inevitable death of Google+ makes headlines.

But last week’s announcement that Google+ was splitting ties with YouTube sent many people clamoring to proclaim it the final nail in the coffin for the troubled social platform.

Of course Google hasn’t officially announced it’s completely obliterating Google+. At least not yet. But from all appearances, it looks to be moving in that eventual direction.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed viewing Google+ as the weird, forsaken middle child of the social media world. When it first showed up to the social media scene back in 2011, Google+ was the talk of the town, like the hot new guy at school who every girl likes at first, but after the first week they realize he has zero personality.

It’s true, Google+ could never evade the comparisons of being “just like Facebook, except pointless.” But for many, Google+ has proven to be a viable option for B2B marketing on social media.

As we mentioned here on the inSegment blog two years ago, “content that is shared on Google+ and positively interacted with (+1s, comments, and shares) ranks more highly in Google searches than content that is not on the site.” Naturally that was great news for SEO results, and many marketers (hopefully) kept that in mind when posting to the site.

It used to be that if you wanted your business to be taken seriously, you had to cover all your bases by creating accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+, the so-called “Big 7” of social media. But it soon became apparent that creating a Google+ account was nothing more than a formality for some businesses.

And so Google+ has hobbled along for the past four years like a stray dog, just hoping someone (or a few million someones) would swoop down, give them a hug, spend a few hours with them, then tell all their friends about how great they are. But in the end, the public didn’t buy into it.

So What Went Wrong?

Simply put, Google+ wasn’t different enough from its competitors to stick out—it didn’t have a unique selling proposition. By the time the network had launched, it was too little too late, and it soon became the laughing stock of devoted Twitter and Facebook users, as well as techies everywhere. (For a more in-depth look at the history behind the ill-fated Google+ concept, this Mashable piece is a must-read.)

And to boot, its partnership with YouTube in connecting users’ accounts to both sites was viewed as a nuisance to many, as was its general layout and frequently unresponsive mobile app. In short, Google+ just wasn’t user-friendly enough to engage its audience and cultivate a passionate following.

Learn from Google’s Mistakes

For marketing professionals, there’s a few key takeaways from the demise of Google+. First, find a unique way to tell your story. Maybe Google+’s biggest downfall was that it never stood out enough from other (and frankly better) social media platforms.

Also, if something isn’t working, make drastic changes. Tweaking a thing or two here and there isn’t good enough. Listen to your audience. What are they expecting from your services? What would they like to learn more about from you? What do they want to see changed that would improve their experience?

Google+ in the Future

So does your business need to create a Google+ page still? And if you do have one, should you continue to update it?

Like so many other business and marketing decisions, the answer is: it depends. The platform still serves a great purpose for many, including digital marketers, SEO experts, and content marketing specialists. At inSegment, we continue to update our Google+ page because it provides a great community for cultivating helpful marketing information. And as we mentioned earlier, the link between content shared on Google+ and Google search results can be a practical SEO tool.

Since it isn’t time to officially say goodbye to Google+ just yet, we’ll continue to make the best of the site while it’s still standing. And perhaps like so many other stories of failed ambitions, the lessons we take away from it in the end will be worth all the trouble.