Is Google+ still relevant? Was it ever relevant? Many SEO ‘experts’ would probably still say yes in a desperate attempt to coerce businesses into including Google+ in their social media plans. But as a competitor to Facebook and Twitter, it never really stood a chance. The design, the interface, and the confusing circles never really caught on among users and it didn’t take much time for memes and jokes on Google+ to surface on social media.
Before moving on to the question of relevance, let’s take a look back at Google’s history with social networks:
Google and Social Media
Google as a company is doing several things right. They are the search engine giants as we know it. Their products such as Android, Maps, Gmail, and Chrome are widely popular. But when it comes to social media, Google still has much to learn. From full-fledged social networks such as Orkut & Google Buzz to location-based services such as Latitude & Dodgeball, Google has had a long history of failure in social media. Google almost had it right with Orkut though. Widely credited with having introduced India and Brazil to social networking, Orkut was launched a month before Facebook back in 2004. While Facebook evolved with new features, Orkut chose to remain old school and saw its 100 million+ users gradually migrate to Facebook. Buzz was a disaster to start with and Dodgeball never stood a chance.
Along came Google+ which was prophesied to be the solution to Google’s social media woes. But alas! With mighty competitors such as Facebook and Twitter, Google’s claim of catching up with other social networks just remains a fancy stat in the dream realm.
Thus far, the only success in social media for Google has been the hugely popular video-sharing website, YouTube. Google’s attempt to integrate it with Google+ and force YouTube users to log in with Google+ usernames resulted in social media outcry. The forced integration with Google+ was met with harsh criticism. If anything, it has made Google fans all over the world realize the search giant’s social media ineptitude.
Does Google+ Still Have a Future
Even the most ardent Google fans would say NO. Last month’s Google I/O conference made no mention of Google+. The same thing happened at last year’s conference as well. While Googlers remain optimistic about the social network’s capability to gain more users, the introduction of products such as Streams and Photos indicates otherwise. Google Photos will be separated from Google+ and users can not only upload photos on this platform, but also share them on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It also entices users with unlimited storage of photos. Sundar Pichai, Senior VP for Android, Chrome, & Apps, continues to remain elusive on the subject of Google+.
Whether it is relevant to marketers or not is still debatable. There are businesses out there – large and small – which are using certain social networks exclusively and driving results. You will find businesses having a page exclusively on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. But not on Google+. That fact alone speaks volumes about its standing in the marketplace. If Google+ needs to remain relevant, Google needs to optimize the product spectacularly to grab people’s attention. And Google has a long history of doing just that. So it’s not the end of the road just yet for Google+. Despite remaining elusive on the subject, Googlers are yet to admit defeat. However, they need to innovate and do it fast. Otherwise, it will just be an addition to Google’s long line of social media duds.