Jan 29 The State of Google+ in 2016
When Google+ came into existence in 2011, it was a lot to take in and viewed as a rival to Facebook. There were a lot of jokes about it being introduced around the fact that you had to have one in order to do pretty much anything with Google products (YouTube, Gmail). Personally I was a huge supporter and probably annoyed 75% of my co-workers. Now, I forget I have one. Sorry Google+, Google I still love you.
At the start, it was a lot of features all rolled into one package and you were required to have a Google+ log in for YouTube, making most people feel like they were being forced into a relationship with a social channel that they didn’t. Now these requirements no longer exist, and they have broken off some of the features as standalones, which is great because now they can be used without having to go through your Google+ page.
Last year Google Photos was freed from being part of Google+ and became a standalone photo management app. Though technically a ‘new product’ there are still similarities between it and the photos that were originally linked with your Google+ account. You can still access them though your Google+ account but now they’re available via the app and through photos.google.com. What I love about it is that it frees up the space on my phone by keeping my photos in… Photos. There’s also some neat things that people might not realize about Photos if they weren’t using them before when it was within Google+. I’ll share one and let you discover the rest for yourself. Photo Collections: it will group your photos (a.k.a “moments”) together into a nice little story that you can share to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Photo Collections could be a great way to host a UGC contest because it creates a nice clean story that’s visually appealing and allows users to add text and edit photos within the app.
When Google+ came out and Hangouts became a thing, I was a big pusher. Every brainstorm that I attended, I found a way to propose a Google+ Hangout (obviously when it made sense) and I was met with groans. However, we did three different programs with Google+ Hangouts with all my persistence, and some brands are still doing them, but more are using Periscope or other livestreaming services. Hangouts still exists though, it’s a great tool for business and to use as a means to communicate internally. Plus, with Google Docs it makes its super easy to share and view documents during a Hangout. Personally, I use it daily to chat with my family and friends over Facebook Messenger because I refuse to install it on my phone.
What’s changed? It’s become more of a stream, they’ve shifted the way content is served in more of a Pinterest fashion. Other than that, at first glance (now that I’ve logged into my page) it looks how I remember it. They have the right idea with how they’ve set up the feed but I’m not convinced enough to spend much time scrolling to see what I might have missed while I was gone because the chances are that I’ve already seen it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram…
Back in January of 2015 Blogger Kevin Anderson analyzed data on Google+ and provided a summary of his findings here, basically relating Google+ to an empty parking lot where only 0.2% – 0.3% of all G+ profiles were active. His findings a year ago are still on point, but I’m going to add one car.
As far as last year is concerned, there is hardly any data out there about the state of Google+. After scouring Google, Emarketer and possibly bugging some analytic friends, there was only one semi-relevant article found. Statista published their ranking of social networks worldwide this month ranking them by active users (in millions) and Google+ didn’t even make the listing.
As far as the general state of Google+, to me, it’s uncertain. It’s more a channel to be aware of but not recommended as a primary channel. Keep it active with the content you’d put on other channels where it makes sense as there are still active users and who knows, they could make a comeback.