On the “Google+ is Dead” Meme
There seems to be renewed interest in the “Google+ is dead” meme from both media outlets and users. I’m not sure, but I would say that from my perspective, it doesn’t look great. At best, it seems like we’re going to find out if the core offering of Google+ is going to succeed or fail on its own, without the support of all the other Google services propping up its numbers.
I’d like to state at the start, that I do hope that it succeeds, because this is the social network that I spend the most time on. It’s the one that I like the best, for a number of reasons. I really don’t want to need to actually learn how to effectively use Twitter, or clog up Facebook with interest-based stuff. Google+ is the ideal social network for me for following my interests and interacting with people who have similar interests.
It seems already that Google is deprioritizing Plus. There was a pretty bad outage the other day, where the service was unavailable for about an hour for myself and a lot of others. I was more than a little surprised when it happened. Now, I understand that mistakes happen, and people screw up, in fact, I’ve caused a service-wide outage for millions of people before when I was doing a live database update (whoops).
However, I do expect that at a company with lots of resources, touching an important product, maybe they have their shit figured out before messing with production?
As far as the product, they’ve been removing more features than they’ve been adding recently. Photos, and the forced integration with the rest of Google. Posting photos to G+ is now a considerably worse experience, since depending on how, exactly, I share something, I may or may not be able to re-order photos, or force an album cover. The split from the other Google products is also not great. OAuth log-in was one feature that’s going to be more strange without a G+ login button, not sure what they’ll do with that. Removing YouTube from the G+ feed makes a lot of sense, that was its own, separate community, that was very different from the G+ community.
That said, I wonder what percentage of Google+’s active user numbers were coming through for one of these ancillary services? I remembered seeing a few infographs that pegged Google+’s usage as similar to Twitter and Instagram’s (i.e. in the ballpark of social platforms that are not Facebook). However, with Photos and all other Google services separated out from G+, what will the usage look like? If it dips too far, then the platform will look less compelling to a lot of people. Will it become the de facto Google message board, where people basically just come to talk about Googley stuff?
Again, I like the service, and will continue to use it until Google pulls the plug, or until the interesting people like yourselves migrate away. I’m not saying they will, but it seems like a possibility. Another possibility is that they do another serious iteration on G+ to focus on its core strengths. Collections and Communities seem like pretty core experience pieces for G+.
I like the Communities here more than Facebook Groups, because the communities here aren’t as full of junk and spam. They are much more focused and on-topic. That’s awesome, and exactly what I want out of an interest-based community.
Collections are another great feature. I really enjoy being able to post things with added context, that allows people to follow only certain things that I post, because it’s interesting to them. For example, someone might really love coffee, but have little interest in tech. They can follow my Coffee collection, and ignore the rest of the stuff that I post. Great! I’ve recently started cooking with an immersion cooker, and am posting to a collection on Sous Vide cooking, which is something that I probably wouldn’t have done before, but makes sense to me to do within the context of a collection.
All that said, Google+ is my favorite social network. I hope it stays alive, and grows into a strong product in its own right, such that it makes sense for Google to continue investing in it.