After four years of relegation to the 2nd tier of social media networks, Google+ is finally pulling the plug on their forced integration with other Google services like YouTube and Gmail.
This conscious uncoupling is a great move for Google users who never truly used the service but were forced to have it and use it as their main profile on other platforms that they use on a daily basis for personal and business purposes. Yes, it means that Google is admitting failure, and that can be hard for a brand to do. But it’s the right move, because it’s the truth.
The first task will be to remove the Google + requirement from YouTube accounts. No longer will creators, commenters or even those who want to Like a video need to be logged into a social media account that they have never posted anything to or cared about just so they can use a platform they do care about.
Reports show that Google+ has a membership of somewhere north of 2 billion users. That’s an impressive number, but the truth is that an estimated 90% of those users never post content on their account or engage with other users/brands. They are Google+ members only because they were made to become members if they wanted to use other, much more useful, Google platforms.
The pure optics of making someone do something they don’t want to do is bad. As a brand are you really building a community that will follow you, support you, and become advocates for you? Or are you just telling them if they don’t also use your bat, you’re taking your ball and going home.
Google wanted to be bigger and better and more important than Facebook. They thought that this, their fourth entry into the social media world (RIP Google Buzz, Google Friend Connect, Orkut), would be the one that made them relevant to brand and consumers. They were dead wrong. Again. Google + will never compete with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube with consumers or brands.
History will show that Google+ was the fastest growing social media network. The pure numbers are fantastic to look at. But the decision to remove the Google+ requirement is step one in admitting that the social media network hasn’t panned out, forcing people to join was a bad idea, and those numbers were an illusion.
Take a look around the internet and the overwhelming reaction to this announcement is positive. And while you should always take the voice of social media with a grain of salt, this is one of those times when you can believe what you’re seeing.
Welcome to step one of Google+ fading into the darkness.