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The Future of Google+ : Boom or Bust?

2015 has only just started, yet people are already predicting the untimely demise of Google+. Based on what we’ve seen from the platform in the last several weeks, the outlook does look grim. With the departure of the brains of the operation in mid-2014 (Vic Gundotra) and the reassignment of about a thousand employees it looks as though Google is divesting itself of the millstone that is G+.

But, can they truly get rid of something that has been in development for so long?

From a user’s point of view it would be the biggest fail Google has had to date. Their economic state is by no means bad, but the amount of time and resources spent on a project that failed so spectacularly is liable to rankle in the company’s psyche for years to come. Based on what we see from Google’s development in the last couple months of last year, we can speculate that Google is looking to close up shop on Google+. However, you can just as easily take it to mean that Google is streamlining its development team to make designing and implementing a new version of G+ easier.

The jury’s still out on what Google is planning to do with G+, but I don’t think Google’s going to give up on their brainchild just yet.

The Naysayers Preaching Doom

Quite like the soothsayer in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, tech and social media gurus have warned about Google’s abandonment of the Google+ project. A few of the arguments used to support this point of view are quite compelling on the surface. Google+ isn’t the “Facebook Killer” it was touted to be, but even so, it commands far more active users than Facebook’s nearest social media rival Twitter. It just doesn’t utilize them.

Although Google+ isn’t as active as other social media networks, it still has a dedicated user base that posts regularly. A few million people using the service is far from the “ghost town” that many articles make it out to be.

The unbundling of apps such as Hangouts from the Google+ framework can signal a move to the dumping of G+ altogether, but I think it’s more of a situation where Google realized that hangouts would be far more successful as a stand-alone app than as a G+ widget (which it turns out to be right about). These arguments provide much of the criticism surrounding Google+, but when you break it down, Google has managed to deal with most of these already, and they’re just picking at straws in the wind rather than providing any compelling proof that Google is planning to dump G+.

Why Google May Aim to Salvage G+

No matter what you think Google is, it’s a business first and foremost and the most important thing for any business is the bottom line. The sheer amount of users G+ has makes it a powerhouse in the world of social media. The only thing it lacks is the spark to set it off. Google+ was late on the scene and the platform it introduced to the world was one that was familiar to many users, but far blander than Facebook. The result is that most users opted to stick with their original social media network rather than uprooting themselves and transferring over to the Google+ network.

Google tried their hardest to make G+ acceptable and they had good ideas. Authorship tried to encourage writers to join G+ and use it to host and tag their work in order to gain relevance in search rankings. Authorship was discarded after the poor response from users (mainly because writers found the process of tagging their work clunky and too technical to bother with) adding another failure to Google’s scrap heap of ideas.

The thing that sets G+ head and shoulders above the competition, though, is its sheer number of users. Once Google can find a way to get popular users over to G+ and from there start drawing the crowd, they’re guaranteed to have a massive money-making venture on their hands. Their major problem is getting people to buy the idea.

Google+ in 2015: Boom or Bust?

This pretty much comes down to what Google can do to make G+ more attractive. It’s already an issue with users on Facebook when the layout changes every few months as a result of Facebook’s administration “keeping it fresh” strategy.

If they could utilize that in some way to bring users across they could see a turnaround in the fortunes of G+. The most important thing for Google at this juncture is to find a way to draw the crowd.

Unlike P.T. Barnum, Google can’t just get a traveling elephant and expect the people to come. A social media platform is not a field of dreams: If you build it, they won’t just come. You have to make them want it. Google+’s survival in 2015 comes down to how much Google can make people see the benefit of using Google+. If they fail, it could put the final nail in the coffin for what started out as such an ambitious and well-meaning project.

About the author

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Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

42 Comments

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  • For me G+ i more than success, I love it.. I use it and I get many benefits: A lot of new people seeing my business.. clients.. and two newspapers articles and 1 tv contacts because of Google+.

  • As a tool for business it definitely has a place. For personal users it still has a long way to go and never really caught on (unless you owned a website and wanted your face to appear in serps). For networking and generating business contacts it’s a great resource.

  • G+ = Garbage
    The main reasons people use it are:
    – to get google to send the crawler to their site
    – an attempt to get better rankings
    – to connect with others who will share their stuff

    Google has jerked so many people around that they’ve created more enemies than fans.

    It would be nice if they would crash and burn, then they can feel what it is like when google destroys your business. They will have done it to themselves.

    I knew G+ would never last, just like all the other stupid stuff they did and shut down.

    Do no Evil indeed. Yeah, right!

  • I use facebook as I appreciate the informal contact with “friends” and familly. i’m in twitter, not sure why. i didn’t want to join another so not in G+.

  • To be honest, I have recently seen G+ working for me. I see my posts about my articles coming up high in the search engines and recently had one article go reasonably viral on Google+ itself. In the meantime, FB now hides my articles from most of my friends because they want me to pay…

  • I love G+ for multiple reasons but I hope it does keep getting better instead of it giving up. I use it mainly for the content people add like LinkedIn. Facebook is nice to keep in touch with old friend but I honestly cannot trust any news or content on there. I’m not saying G+ and LinkedIn are perfect, but there’s a lot less spam news.

    • I agree with you, maybe Google needs to get more G+ more people, add some features and security. For now G+ does have similarities with other social media just this less popular, some of my friends even still do not know this.

  • It will be a shame if they stop it because it’s good for business but it can be confusing as to what Google Widget you are using because there are some many. Most the time I’m not sure if you’re posting to Google+, Google Local etc. It needs to be better designed and easier to use.

  • If it goes it will be one less thing to worry about… It has always been complicated to use, and the changes that have been made to it have not helped.

    I have never had any leads from it, but then I have found that for my demographics none of the other social networking sites work either!!

  • Why does Google have to copy every good idea that pops up? How many social networks do they expect us to join? Dumb idea from the start. Stick to search.

  • G+ is nothing more than posting your stuff to get it crawled fast by the big G and maybe receiving a higher ranking in the search results. But that’s a big maybe.

  • Its hard to say, but another potential signal is the recent announcement that Twitter would be once again powering Google real time search. Does that take away another business driver of Google+ which was born shortly after the Twitter/Google relation went south prior? Google+ Local replaced Google Places so local business who want to be on the map now have to have a Google+ local listing which is integral to the local search results. Google+ reviews add value to search so make Google+ Local a little more sticky. I,for one, am not ready to signal the end of Google+ just yet.

  • Hi there. My assumption was that G+ is going to be better for SEO marketers, because of such strong correlation with serp results in Google. After all, digital marketers are those who are trying to be better in serps. As a personal user I think G+ is to complicated. I can’t even edit my meta text published on G+, once it is cached. LinkedIn and FB make it so simple.

  • I love G+ and I think that making it simpler to use would be better. Some platforms have so many features that you don’t have time for them all. Like Linkedin it has many features I don’t even use. I think the separation of Hangouts was good. Google tends to make things too “fancy” and it turns out complicated. They should do what users want in G+.

    Rose

  • Whether G+ stays or not, it is just another social media platform for me. Just like Facebook and many other social media program, I have not experienced the effectiveness of being involves with such platforms after 3 years. Everyone seems to be only interested in “their own business” to really make a difference.

    I think its a time-waster!

  • At its height people must have thought Rome could never fall. This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. Google should start Google Dating, they have all the info on everyone to do scientific matches, all the personal links and networks, they just need a working concept like the starlove algorithms to create something as big as search. They should stop trying to own everyone and start trying to regain trust.

  • I’d like to see G+ completely separate personal and business pages as I like to keep my personal and business life separate. This has been a constant irritation for me – just as it is with Facebook. Simplify this and I’d be a very happy G+-er.

    • It is really a nice and helpful piece of info. Im glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Thanks for sharing.
      Regards
      Mary

    • As we know that G+ is from Google and created huge effects in online world. But it is also a truth it couldn’t defeat Facebook.

  • Facebook at least originally created its social network with an intent to connect friends. Google created its social network to keep up, and mine data. Most users subconsciously know this.

  • thanks for sharing this post. Google plus is indeed among the top 5 social media site and creating google plus profile and linking it with our webpage build the link popularity of our website