The Stunning Loss of Google+

The Stunning Loss of Google+


I am one of the reasons social media sucks.
– anonymous digital marketer

Well, it was announced several months ago. Google Plus is going away. The features (Photos) for example will be rolling out in separate app/services as the overall functionality of G+ will be more like your Google Profile rather than a social or sharing network. And the results could not have been any more dramatic. Here are my referral stats for the first half of 2015 to yesterday.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 7.08.35 AM

Even my Twitter referrals ( are down, but I have been less active in 2015 in promoting as I focused a bit more on a client’s work over my own. (Typical consultant behavior.)

But G+ is nowhere to be found!

And while it was never a big driver, it was well worth the while to cross promote on G+ at least as often as I published. Today the value of referrals from G+ is about as valuable as the ever-dropping StumbleUpon. Not much. Less than 1%. A lot less. I mean if Pinterest is driving more traffic to my tech marketing blog, well, something is wrong with the state of referrals online.

It wouldn’t be so painful if I hadn’t spent so much time building my Google Plus audience. They are still there, it’s just the platform has become a ghost town. Discussions have dropped to 1 post out of a 100, as everyone puts their time towards social networks that return referrals for the effort. What did we get so wrong? I have been promoting, hyping, providing numbers and tips on G+ since the launch. Why Google, why did you abandon the only alternative to Facebook that even had a chance?

It’s historical that Google tries to build and launch a ton of new technologies. Some will be hits, others (WAVE – which I loved, BUZZ, etc.) will be discontinued with the REVENUE targets are not met. And maybe that’s what happened to G+. The revenue opportunities were no where in sight. As the platform failed to catch fire with consumers (mainly techies and photographers have occupied G+) Google failed to see the long-term value in continuing the effort.

Google could have done things much differently. They could’ve tried to mount a Facebook-killer app. But that’s not what G+ was about. Perhaps the experiment of Google Plus was as mysterious at it’s branding and name. Do you call it Google Plus, Google+, or G+, or just Plus? They never quite decided and never quite got the value proposition right for the masses. A lot of us tried to migrate our “friends” to G+, but whenever anything interesting would happen, we’d flock back to FB to see what the conversation was. G+ was a promotional tool, that’s it.

Where do we go from here?

  • More conscious use of Facebook is in order.
  • Still seeking the next platform/social network.
  • Embrace the pieces of G+ that you loved as they are rolled out under their own flags. (Photos, Hangouts, are the first).
  • Be more social overall.
  • Continue to explore the “social” aspects of LinkedIn, without trying to turn it into a casual, picture sharing, cat joke, platform.

Don’t mourn the passing of G+. Celebrate the vacuum that has been created once again for something BETTER than Facebook. The problem with all the current alternatives is revenue. When ELLO announced that they would be the ad-free Facebook everyone was excited but the business model was impossible from the start. When TSU started everyone was excited getting compensated for generating great content, except the model never really took off as a social network, but more like a content promotional platform.

The future ahead will continue to be dominated by Facebook and Twitter. Both of which make enormous mistakes every business cycle as they strive for profits over people. But there is hope. Start a blog. Generate your own community. And use Facebook groups (public and private) to build communication networks that don’t rely on advertising or newsfeed algorithms to be successful.

Let’s put that more clearly:

  • Start a blog.
  • Generate your own community.
  • Write great content.
  • Share and be social, not just promotional.
  • Everyone loves a story, if it’s not self-serving PR.

See all related Google+ posts

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also used to be seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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