What The Unofficial Death Of Google+ Means For Marketing
As the Google+ we knew splits up, what's the lesson learned? Don't put all your digital marketing eggs in one basket, advises columnist Travis Wright.
Google+ is unofficially officially dead. Now, what?
Google’s Bradley Horowitz announced on Google+ last month that the platform will be split into two new services: Streams and Photos. “Photos” are self-explanatory, and “Streams” are going to cover just about everything else.
If you’re fond of Google Hangouts, don’t worry — the video/messaging service survived the fallout as a separate offering. However, Hangouts is just about the only part of Google+ that has a clear future.
It seems to be full-on transition mode for Google, with Google+ seemingly “still there” (at least in name) for now. That’s probably why a lot of people haven’t realized one of the leading social media platforms in the U.S. is essentially gone.
In the world of marketing, though, industry experts agree that this whole restructuring approach is just stretching out the inevitable: Google+ and anything like it is dead, and Google should just let it go.
It’s possible that Google may have a successful social media platform in the future, but it likely will bear no resemblance to Google+.
A Timely Passing
It comes as no surprise to digital marketers that the Google+ run has come to an end. It never gained the traction or popularity necessary to make it succeed. The rumors that it was slowly gaining on the likes of Twitter and Facebook were more likely dreams instead of predictions steeped in statistics and facts.
While search engine optimization (SEO) gurus and others encouraged people to fill out their Google+ profiles because it was fast, easy, couldn’t hurt, and might help with SEO points, it was far from being a priority for just about anybody.
However, that doesn’t mean Google+’s existence was in vain. There’s a lot to be learned from it — in fact, there’s often more to be learned from failure than successes.
The biggest lesson? It’s a huge risk to put 100 percent of social media efforts into any single platform, whether it ultimately succeeds or not.
After all, you can baby your social media campaign until you’re sleep deprived, but you never have any control over what the platform itself does. A social media platform can suddenly undergo a massive makeover, die, or become a realm that doesn’t complement your goals.
What if Google+ Was Your Facebook?
From a numbers perspective alone, it’s very unlikely that any business used Google+ extensively and exclusively. However, businesses may use a platform like Facebook exclusively.
What would you do if tomorrow Facebook were wiped out? You may have spent a lot of time, money and research pampering your social media platform of choice. It could be sucking up quite a big chunk of your marketing budget. Yes, social media management can have a great ROI, but it comes with zero guarantees. The reality is you have no control over the network itself.
Google+ as we knew it is gone, but other networks are also undergoing huge changes.
For the most part, it looks like the future will be monetizing user bases. Many marketing experts think that the future may be paid social media, especially for businesses, and that can put a huge damper on your budget.
So, what can you do? The same thing you do with your personal finances: diversify.
Don’t Discount Google+ Communities
One of the biggest areas of value within the G+ social network has been communities. I’ve found immense value in growing Marketing+, a marketing-related community on Google+. Every day, 40 to 60 pieces of content get shared within the community, and we see a fair amount of interaction within the group.
Even though the rest of G+ is dying a slow death, communities are still a vibrant place with lots of value. Hopefully Google, in its infinite wisdom, doesn’t kill communities.
You can search all of the Google Plus communities right here.
What Killed Google+?
In my estimation, it was never easy to share content on Google+. The egos behind the social network thought it best for people to log into the site and share from the desktop or their app. They never allowed personal profiles to share content via Buffer, Hootsuite or any easy-to-use Chrome extension.
Since they never allowed that, I stopped caring and sharing on Google+. And I was a HUGE proponent of Google+ in its early days.
Google+ dropped the ball on forcing us to have unwanted usernames. It demanded that you use your real name. No thanks, G.
I use @teedubya or teedubyaw everywhere, but on Google+, I couldn’t be https://plus.google.com/+teedubya. I would have to be https://plus.google.com/+TravisWright. But they would never give that username to me because there are other Travis Wrights, so no Travis Wright could have it! I even had connections who worked at Google try to make it happen, but no dice.
People like to have a vanity username that coordinates with the rest of their social identities.
So, Google, the next time you decide to create a social network, you’d be wise to allow for some actual social sharing and let people be unique with their usernames.
Put all your eggs in one basket, and you know what might happen. Don’t be faithful to just one social network for your digital marketing efforts, even if it seems foolproof. You should focus on creating content that works on a variety of networks just in case one of them goes under.
The demise of Google+ also underscores just how critical owned media is. Focusing on your own websites, or those of your clients, is a safer bet than having tunnel vision on a site that you don’t own.
Will the restructuring of Google+ lead to a more improved network? It’s doubtful. Instead, consider this a tough lesson learned. Put those digital marketing eggs in a variety of baskets, because if they’re in one and it catches fire, what are you going to do?