Over the past few days I have been tagged in many online conversations with the main question being, "Is Google Plus finished then?"
Points to note are that none of these conversations happened on Google+ itself, all of the conversations were between bloggers who maybe haven't got to grips with the G+ way of life and most of the participants of these conversations were already wondering if they were about to suffer from social media fatigue.
It's simple. Google Plus is going nowhere. The rumours stem from a TechCrunch article - Google+ Is Walking Dead - which is an piece musing about the future of G+ now that the main developer is leaving the fold. I believe it was written purposefully to murky the waters (and has generated many spin-off articles) but you can read it and make up your own mind.
Here are my views. Forced integration of all Google products was maybe a misguided idea because it alienates people who choose not to use all of Google's online facilties. Users want choice. Give them that choice and more often than not they will choose the one you want them to anyway. Some of the issue surrounds the fact that Google encourages people to use their own (real) name which isn't ideal if users want to use a nickname or blog anonymously (for example). Therefore bloggers installing the G+ commenting system are possibly losing some of their reader interaction.
But moving back to the main event. Google+ has been in development for a long time. Remember Google Buzz, Google Talk, Google Wave and iGoogle? Shades of all of these previous projects (and more) can be seen in Google Plus and maybe it was a case of 'suck it and see' to find out what did and didn't work. I agree that doing this in the public arena was a gamble but with an online product you need unbiased testers and you need to hear truthfully what the feedback is. Then you need to adapt and move forward. One thing that Google is good at is innovation.
The main developer of G+ - and all of Google's main players - agree that this system is now fully developed, is working effectively and doesn't need any further adjustment other than minor technical tweaks. Therefore it makes sense for people to move on and development teams to be moved to other departments to use their expertise elsewhere within the organisation, or even further afield. As I said earlier this week, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it - take note, Facebook."
You may think that hardly anyone is using the G+ platform; that it is the greatest social media platform that no-one has heard of; that only bloggers and digital publishers are using it. Maybe they are the best people to use it? After all, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) was built in to the platform to ensure that quality content was incorporated into the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) alongside author accreditation. And 300 million active users [source] can't be wrong can they?
It is the same with any social media platform - it will have it's lovers and it's haters. If you don't like it, don't use it. I have Facebook friends who have never set fingertip on Twitter. There are those who don't own an Instagram account or won't spend hours getting lost on Pinterest.
Even though Google appear to have the digital user market by the short and curlies you don't have to use their products. Use a different browser instead of Chrome. Open a different search engine instead of using Google search. Steer clear of their maps and alter your images in something other than Picasa. It's not the law to use Google, however you have to agree that the time and money they have invested into providing free products to use has to be applauded.
Google Plus is an intuitive platform and it's one that I've loved learning about. When I post updates on G+ I don't get anywhere near the interaction I do on Twitter or Facebook but the content I read is much more varied and often a lot more (technically) intelligent than I normally access which encourages me to investigate, research and learn. There are also people that I have had the opportunity to interact with that I would never have encountered on other social media platforms.
As some further reading, you may find this article about Larry Page interesting. It tells the story of Google from beginning until now. Definitely not the end.
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