So Google+ didn't exactly turn out to be a Facebook killer, and the company has been backing off of its previous efforts to force it onto users of its other products. People are saying things like, "Google+ is dead," as they have been for years, but it's not. It's just not what it used to be.
Do you see any business value in Google+ these days? How are you using it? Let us know in the comments.
A couple weeks ago, Google admitted that with Google+, it "got certain things right," but "made a few choices that, in hindsight," it has "needed to rethink". Essentially, the company is recognizing that not all Google service users want to be part of Google+, so it is unburdening those users. It has already launched its new Photos app, which uses some elements of its previous Google+ Photos app, and it's putting location sharing into Hangouts and other apps. It also announced the YouTube would be one of the first products to have the mandatory Google+ stripped from it. This pairing was hugely controversial with YouTube users right from the beginning.
But that doesn't mean Google+ is going away. Google isn't ready to go that far yet. You may have noticed that any mention of it was completely absent from the company's big Alphabet restructuring announcement earlier this week, but as others have pointed out, Page responded to just one comment on his post about the announcement. Someone asked if he and Brin still love Google+.
"Yes, we still love g+!" he replied.
Even as Google was talking about removing Google+ from its other services, it was positioning doing so as a way to improve Google+ itself by making it more focused (not entirely unlike what Google itself is doing with Alphabet). So what is Google+ good for?
"Google+ is quickly becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them," said Bradley Horowitz, VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing at Google. "In line with that focus, we’re continuing to add new features like Google+ Collections, where you can share and enjoy posts organized by the topics you care about."
You'd be forgiven if you don't recall what Google+ Collections is. Frankly, we haven't heard a whole lot about it since it was announced earlier this year. It's basically Google+'s version of Pinterst's boards or Flipboard's Magazines. In other words, glorified, curated social bookmarking.
Since then, we haven't seen a whole lot in the way of feature additions to Google+. Just the reduction of its presence throughout the Google universe.
New findings, however, seem to suggest it's actually not only still kicking, but thriving among its core userbase, getting some pretty good engagement among them.
Stone Temple Consulting conducted a new study of over 33,000 Google+ posts, and found that it's very good at being a place for longer-form discussions among people with common interests.
"As we look forward to a new era on Google+, we can now focus on what we need to do to maximize what we get out of it as a social network, and on what we need to do to maximize our engagement there," says Stone Temple's Eric Enge, who authored the report.
Getting to that, it found photo inclusion to be one of the strongest factors in generating engagement.
It also found that +mentions go a long way. Posts that include these get way more +1s, reshares, and replies.
Hashtags also help a lot in the +1s and reshares department, though they don't have much of an impact on replies.
Interestingly, however, videos are not helping much at all. In fact, they might even be hurting. Look at the numbers here:
BUT...that includes videos autoshared from YouTube. Videos shared natively on Google+ are six times more likely to get reshared. This suggests that untying Google+ from YouTube should indeed only be good for those looking for more out of Google+.
When it comes to post length, the study finds that the sweet spot is between 501 and 1,000 characters.
That's a far cry from the suggested 60 from this infographic recently released by Buffer and SumAll.
"A post is .73 times as likely to get a +1 if it’s an event than if it’s not an event (i.e., it’s less likely)," writes Enge. "A post with a link placed in the text of the post is 1.97 times as likely to get reshared than if it does not have a link in the text of the post."A post with a photo is 2.38 times as likely to get replies as a post without a photo."
The study even gets into some comparisons with Twitter, finding that the chances of getting a reply to a post on Google+ are way better than getting one on Twitter. It's not even close. Google+ are 22 times more likely than tweets to get replies, if finds. Definitely check out Enge's full report for more insights in that department as well as the rest.
Are you seeing significant engagement from Google+ these days? Have you been putting in the effort and engaging yourself? Let us know if Google+ is still part of your strategy.
Images via Google, Stone Temple Consulting