Social Media | 3.9.15
Earlier last week, Google confirmed that Google+, the company’s social network since 2011, would be breaking up into two distinct products: Photos and Streams in order to better serve its users.
Google Photos will be Google’s photo management service, which includes auto-syncing, uploading, editing, automatic sorting, photo enhancement and easy sharing.
Google Streams is the Google+ feature that allows users to share content from different websites to users – the Twitter & Facebook posting parts of Google+.
Although the official announcement by Google’s VP of product Bradley Horowitz, who will head up the new products, didn’t actually mention Google+, these two products make up much of the Google+ network experience. The separation officially marks the demise of Google+ in the social world.
In the last 18 months, Google has been subtly hinting that Google+ will be going away soon with recent updates, including getting rid of the mandatory Google+ registration when signing up for new Google services and the disappearance of Google authorship.
Although made to rival sites like Facebook, Google+ never worked the way it was supposed to. So what went wrong? Looking back, it seems that the social network just had bad timing. While other sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn were taking off as the original pioneers of the social space, Google jumped in with a “me too” approach to Google+. Users seemed to not be up for signing up and managing yet another social networking site.
Although in 2014, Google had announced that it had user numbers that doubled those of Twitter, this was considered by many to be an inflated number that included users of other Google products such as Docs and YouTube. The other problem for Google+ was likely too confusing to navigate. To be able to access it anywhere, whether on a desktop or mobile device, the interface just needed to be a little simpler to use. A great example is Facebook and its separate dedicated app for messaging.
Some may argue that there is a deeper, more fundamental problem with Google and its former social network. While Google builds great products to serve its users in terms with machine learning and algorithms, it lacks the foundation for social interaction and community. While companies like Facebook and Flickr have “community” built in their DNA, Google lacked that “heart and soul”. Flickr was built on a passion for sharing photos, and Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding human interaction, especially college students who made up the social network’s initial users. Google made very useful features for Google+, but it just lacked a reason for users to come together.