Would You Miss Google+ If It Went Away?

    April 28, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Is Google+ dying or not? Some say yes, but Google says no, and it seems like loyal users tend to believe the company.

Would you miss Google+ if it went away? Let us know in the comments.

In case you haven’t been following, Google+ head Vic Gundotra announced that he is leaving Google last week. Shortly thereafter, the “Google+ is dying” posts began. The one that got the most attention was from TechCrunch, which declared Google+ “walking dead”.

That report indicated that Google would be shifting team members to other groups, and that Google+ would become a platform rather than a product, with Google turning focus to separate apps based on Google+ features rather than Google+ as a product itself. The Google Hangouts team (and probably its photos team), it said, will be moving to the Android team. According to the report, teams would be building “widgets” that utilize Google+ as a platform, but wouldn’t focus on Google+ as its own product. There would no longer be “required” Google+ integrations for Google products, it says.

Other media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reported similar things.

Even Danny Sullivan speculated that if Google is indeed turning its focus away from the Google+ social destination, it could follow a similar path to what Facebook is doing, in breaking out is various features into their own apps, as it is already doing to some extent with Hangouts. We could get more of these standalone apps, he hypothesized. He even went so far as to imagine Google bringing back Google Reader in some Google Plusified way.

After the initial TechCrunch report, the publication published a piece from Danny Crichton, who used to work on the product at Google. He also seems to be of the mindset that it’s dying. Here’s the conclusion of that one:

Google has promoted David Besbris to succeed Gundotra as head of Google+. This is striking, since he was selected over the head of product, Bradley Horowitz. This decision should make it clear to everyone that Google+’s time as a user-centric social network is over.

While most analysts will chalk up the initiative as a failure, I think that is putting it too simply. Google+ failed as a social network, to be sure. But the competitive threat of social and the resulting focus around Google+ finally forced the company to change its product culture, results that continue to benefit the company to this day. It has been more than two years since the headline “Is Google Dead” had any meaning whatsoever. Facebook’s threat to the company now comes from mobile instead of social. Few would have predicted that outcome three years ago.

For Gundotra, it was probably the right time to check out and begin a new track. He fought the good fight at Google, assuming the Herculean task of making a company formed by CS grad students into a forceful entrant in social. He failed, as almost anyone would. But he got the language infused in the culture, and that counts for a +1. Which, unfortunately, no one will ever see.

Google’s official response has been, “Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy — we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts and Photos.”

We reached out to Amanda Blain (the 20th most followed person on Google+), whom we recently interviewed about how to get more out of Google+ for your business, about the reports. She was less than impressed. In fact, she wrote her own open letter to the reporters signaling Google+’s demise.

She thinks Gundotra left because it was time for him to try other roles, and that there wasn’t much room for him to move up the chain any further. “Much like Marissa,” she says. The TechCrunch report seemed to imply that he left because of Google’s alleged decreasing interest in Google+.

Google did just launch a new ad product based on Google+, so if Google really is moving away from it, that seems like odd timing.

After months of testing, Google opened +Post ads to all advertiser a couple weeks ago. These let you use Google+ photos and videos, and turn them into engagement ads. The format is open to all advertisers, but requires you to have at least 1,000 Google+ followers.

“More of the same ‘G+ is dead’ in a new flavor,” Blain tells us of the reports. “Vic was head of G+ yes, but him leaving means little. The new head is a guy I know and have met. He’s an active user of Plus. So is his family…I mean like a REAL user…posts all the time, regularly, stuff he’s watching, his thoughts etc. Him coming into head is a very, very, very good thing for Plus. He’s a smart product engineering guy.”

That would be David Besbris, who has been pretty quiet about all this.

“As i wrote in my post, G+ is the backbone,” Blain told us in an email. “That won’t change. Hangouts, photos, the sign in for Youtube, the sign in for Post Ads (with insane CTR)…Why on earth would they close the product out at this point? I’m not debating that they will focus more [on] Android, Hangouts specifically or photos, but they already do do that. Very little G+ marketing is done. Very little G+ social stream ‘use me now’ has EVER been done.”

She doesn’t believe the part about Google not requiring Google+ integrations into other products.

“I don’t see this happening,” she says. “This comes again from people who think that G+ is trying to be a Facebook killer. Never ever, ever. Google made you have a login for all its services. It gives them better advertising results ($$) period. This has nothing to do with G+ the social stream. I’ve always been of the mindset that Google doesn’t care if you use G+ the ‘social’ stream or not. If you do, they know more about you. If you don’t, you likely will start using it at some point because so many Google services tie into it.”

Moritz Tolxdorff, Community Manager Social and Chrome at Google shared Blain’s letter on Google+ saying, “Can’t agree more with this.”

In the comment thread, Chris Lang asked him about the reports of Google moving people away from the Google+ team, to which he responded, “No one is moving away from the team Chris…no one is moving anywhere. Everything will stay as it is.”

So, on one side, we have anonymous sources (at multiple publications) suggesting that Google+ as we know it may not be around for much longer. On the other side, we have Google saying that nothing is changing, and at least one person directly contradicting something specific from the reports.

If Google decided to pull the plug on its social product, it wouldn’t be the first time it has done so (Buzz and Wave come to mind), and it wouldn’t be the first time it killed a well-liked product (Google Reader). But would it make sense for Google to kill Google+?

Marketers better hope not because it’s catching up to Facebook in terms of user interactions with brands’ posts as a percentage of their fans/followers, according to Forrester. Of course it probably helps that Facebook is killing organic reach, but that’s all the more reason to use Google+ for marketing. Either way, it’s significantly ahead of Twitter in that regard.

“On average, top brands have collected 90% as many fans on Plus as on Twitter (In fact, the brands we studied have more followers on Google Plus than on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram combined.),” said Forrester’s Nate Elliott. “Second, and more importantly, Google Plus generates much more brand engagement than you think. Recently we studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks. The result? Brands’ Google Plus posts generated nearly as much engagement per follower as their Facebook posts — and almost twice as much engagement per follower as their Twitter posts.”

Shareaholic also recently released some interesting findings indicating that Google+ and YouTube are much better for generating on-site engagement than Facebook.

As brands grow increasingly frustrated with Facebook, it wouldn’t seem like a great time for Google+ to go away.

Would you miss Google+ if it went away? Do you consider it an important part of your online business strategy?Let us know in the comments.

Images: Forrester, Shareaholic

  • wertwert

    No. I would not miss Google Plus. While it’s being forced on me at YouTube there is nothing Google can do to make me like it , recommend it, or use it in any meaningful way. IMO, forcing people to do things is stupid business and kills your brand. Calling that growth is a lie.

  • Lia Chaves Fernando

    Isnt Google+ supposed to be a platform (in the first place) to consolidate all of Google’s products? Wonder what’s truly in store for G+ in the near future…

  • Rich B

    Absolutely NOT!

  • http://gastricbandfrance.co.uk/ geofflord

    Yes I would certainly miss G+. I am just getting fed up Google’s constant changes !! they get you hooked on a product and then when we are just getting to grips with a product as a marketing tool they whip it out of the product pool and promise us better things to come only to repeat the process time and time again !! if anything needs to go its “Matt Cuts” !! he has destroyed google as a credible search engine single handed !!

    • wertwert

      I think Matt had a little help. I think Matt tells a lot of half truths and I don’t trust what he says. I honestly don’t believe he pulls all the strings. He is kind of like cancer man from the X-files… lots of plausible deniability.

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        I have never, ever, learned anything from Matt Cutts, other than the fact that Google is about making money at all cost, no matter how much damage it does to small and independent businesses and sites.

        I have yet to see a single video or article where Matt gives a firm and reliable answer to ANYTHING of value to webmasters.

        All he is is the propaganda politician for Google, constantly saying “should”, “could” and “perhaps”, but never telling anyone what they actually NEED to know.

        But you can bet your right nut he’s willing to give that VERY specific information to eBay, Amazon and any other massive corporate brand out there needing to dominate a new sector.

        • JH

          Matt lied to webmasters….worthless

    • wilma

      i thought this article was about Google+ not Matt Cutts.

  • Jimmy Morgan


  • Bob


  • http://www.guysgab.com Guys Gab

    I’m actually a recent Google+ convert after getting fed up with the lack of visibility our brand page posts were get on Facebook, and I’ve got to admit, I’d be sad to see it go away. It’s a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you start to see the potential of the platform.

  • Simon

    What’s that.

  • skyway1234

    I would miss Google + very much if it went away. I think people who don’t care about it don’t understand it. Google + is a very important element for local businesses. I was trying to use Google + for my online store and had limited success, but when I began to use it for my local store I discovered the magic that is Google +. We have a store in a very small town and I began “breathing” on my Google + for my store about 3 months ago. That means I started trying to remember to post something once a week, I put in some photos, found complimentary businesses from around town on Google + and asked them if they wanted to be friends and contacted individuals I know to see if they wanted to connect. In 3 months I have gotten about 20,000 clicks to my Google + page. It brought me to the top of Google Local for my type of store in our area, and it just seems like more people are walking in to our store. Now, this is with just a little bit of warmth from me. I want to see what is going to happen when I get it fully developed and it has been working like this for a year or two. I have fully developed a Facebook presence for my business, as well as LinkedIn and YouTube. YouTube and Google + are the most active and I think those two websites work well for my retail business, since we are doing a lot of BtoB.

  • http://www.denverinternetmarketing.org/ Ken Fry

    I would celebrate and ask they return to the old Google Places layout for Local Businesses. G+ SUCKS!

  • gooddog

    About 3 years ago I would have missed it as that was where most of my business came from. Now I get new clients from many different search sites. They have grown too big and their fingers are in many pots and I would love to see them gone. Idiots do not understand that Google Glass and Google Chrome ( in elementary schools now) are dangerous to our privacy!

  • http://www.fromtheabbey.com/ Jeffrey Arrowood

    I have found that for some reason the conversations on Google+ are more intelligent and relevant than any other social media. FaceBook is cluttered with FarmVille and other automated posts. Twitter is a constant stream of “look at me” noise. G+ – especially the groups – tend to be much more substantive. Now, this isn’t something inherent in the platform. It may just be that people sick of the games at other social media sites migrated over to G+ and made it their home of choice. So for that reason, I would miss it if it went away.

  • National Lumber

    We like to post on Google+ because it does not require our customers to have an account to see our content.


    No, I would not miss Google+ at all. It does is create more places for me to have to go and check and keep up with. The only one that Google+ is good for is Google. Google created it specially to sell advertising to you and your friends. To keep up with Facebook. To get inside the minds of those who use it. That’s all its really good for and all its really about.

  • http://www.couchespouradultes.fr/ Patricia

    try using google+ on a 1mb/s dsl connexion in the countryside… it’s unusable :), i’ll stick with facebook ( loads instant )

  • jon

    Google+ whats that? Never heard of it

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment, Inc.

    We’d miss Google+ a great deal as we found it easier to keep in contact with our customers and colleagues alike then with Facebook. We also found that be involved with it help to boost our rankings in Google, even if only slightly.

  • David McClave

    Wouldn’t miss it at all. It has been poorly cobbled together, poorly marketed, and its mission is unclear. Fix ALL those things, and I MIGHT even use it.

  • http://georgelamelza.com George Lamelza

    From a search perspective, Google+ isn’t going anywhere soon. Google did something that Facebook and no other search could do, it created authorship and tied it to Google search results ALL based on your Google + account. As a website owner, news writer, and author you have a vested interest in connecting to Google+ (and configuring your website/articles correctly) so that your results are produced with your picture next to it, therefore giving it perceived value to people who search for what you are peddling.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      Google Authorship is a pointless tool that doesn’t function as it should, and never has.

      • http://georgelamelza.com George Lamelza

        The reality of its functionality doesn’t negate its ability for those who know how to use it, to better position their search results.

  • FrankLuska

    With so many half-baked ideas and products from google in the past, who can trust them to continue anything! And No, I would not miss G+.

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    I won’t miss G+ because I was one of those who predicted it would crash and burn before it even got started. No one I know bothers with G+, it’s a confusing mess that’s completely counter-intuitive for the sake of “looking cool”.

    I know more people in Linked In than use G+, and that’s saying something.

    The only reason G+ “looks” like it’s functioning is because users of other G services really had no choice but to be involved with it. Given the choice, 90% of the people who have G+ pages would not have created one.

    I’ve only actually looked at mine about three times.

  • Nancy Smyth

    I would miss Google+ very much – I’ve created a Community, hold a monthly hangout, and attend several hangouts on a weekly basis. It’s a great communication, networking and social media tool. Like someone else below said, there is more depth to the posts on Google+ than on Twitter.

  • JayOh

    Ni I wouldn’t miss it. I can’t get my head round Google+, there doesn’t seem to be any cohesion whatsoever.

  • Clandestine fox

    What is Google+?

  • Hoover Damn

    Google+ is annoying. Please make it go away. I don’t know anyone that uses it.

  • jeff

    Just forget the stuff that is such an chaotic piece of software where most of the time I am searching for something which just disappeared and maybe a a day later appeared elsewhere etc. etc. Since about 2 years now Google is in a real mess, obviously they have no management who know the a managing job. But kicking out adsense publisher for faults Google is making reached new heights.

  • eddiebjr

    Not at all. I don’t like google.

  • Steve Masters

    I would not miss Google+ if it went away – but neither would I miss Twitter or Facebook. If they stopped existing I could happily live my life without them. I use them because they are an everyday part of life, but if they were no longer there, c’est la vie.

  • Cherry C. Thelmo-Fernandez

    Not at all.

  • devodude

    I think the only reason G+ has the traffic it does it because Google basically forces the platform onto it’s Publishers.

  • Jenny

    I seriously hope Google+ dies and soon.
    I run a small photography business. Each time I have some news I post on my blog and then on Twitter and then on my Facebook page and then I’ll think about a video for Youtube, because all of these things are supposed to help my rankings.
    Quite honestly, I’d rather spend my time doing my job. I have a web site, that should be enough, period.
    Imagine an internet without all of those sites that are lists of other sites. A net without all the thousands of directories doing exactly the same thing. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to find what you want! Google+ just adds to this mess.
    My smartphone is Android. Infested with Google. Google play, Google Hangouts, Google this and Google that. Try and remove Google and the Smartphone becomes almost unusable.
    Google has become an insidious, unavoidable part of my business and personal life and quite frankly I’ve hate it. I don’t have any privacy because everything leads back to Google. It’s even worse that one company can combine so much of my personal data to get what they will view as a picture of my life. Google+ is a part of this, too.
    To communicate with my customers I use the phone, my mobile, my company email, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In. You get the idea. One point of contact, please!
    Of course, if you are a large company you can employ social networking specialists. But why? We are being fed this garbage line that online Social Networking is a necessary part of our lives. I seem to recall having a much better social network before FB, Google+, et al. and it was REAL. I’m sick of messaging and would much prefer people just pick up the phone!
    I might add, I really don’t like Facebook trying to turn a Social networking platform into a business application. FB is clearly not designed for this. Google+ appears to me to be doing exactly the same.
    RIP Google+, soon, please. And if Google were to follow, then halleluiah!!!

  • HJ

    A better question would have been “would you miss Google if it went away”. A long list of examples of the way the quality has gone down. Some are so funny that you get confused whether to laugh or cry.

  • Julia

    I would miss G+ terribly. I find it a much more effective way of engagement than Facebook. I don’t want to know what people had for breakfast or what colour socks they are wearing. G+ is the grown ups version of Fb. It would be such a waste if it went as more and more people are becoming jaded with Fb, they keep changing things and people are not happy.
    Now would be the perfect time to advertise G+ as a social media alternative as so many people have outgrown Fb. Yes they still have an account but aren’t active.
    Come on G+, don’t drop the ball now. This is the time we need you most, as a platform and as a social media alternative to FB.
    I have seen more of my friends migrate in the last 6 mths than all the time since it started.

  • Robert Cerff

    Google what?

    Ultimately Google+ loses when doing a Britney test. You’ll notice the difference in engagement between her Facebook and Google+ pages. I’d even conceed that you might get a higher percentage of engagement on Google+ but 10% of 100 is just 10… 5% of 100,000 well… you get the point.

    I honestly believe that all data on active users for Google+ to be horribly skewed.

  • Jasdeep

    I think Google is busting its brains with G+. I hope Larry and Sergei learned that the “Midas touch” thingie is a myth. Gentlemen, you just gotta make-it-cool and keep-it-cool. Nuff said…

  • http://livemyadventure.tumblr.com/ dontforgetmario

    After months I’m still trying to find out how it works… Google should understand that the lack of success of G+ has a lot to do with how complicated it is for a mortal user to get the grasp of it: Circles, streams, google drive, Google+ photos, hangout… It’s crazy… Learn a bit guys from much simpler platform like dropbox carousel, Basecamp, implement a much simpler concept and your G+ will have a much wider audience…

  • http://wredlich.com/ny/ Warren Redlich

    If Google Plus fell in the woods, and no one cared, would it still be news?

    Personally I think Google Plus has a lot of potential but they just haven’t figured out how to get users engaged with it. I don’t get G+. I don’t know how to make it work for me. I don’t enjoy reading it.

  • Mr. Positive

    No I would not miss G+, and I would not miss FB either.

  • TurnerYelli

    Never used it, don’t have any reason to.

  • Thomas

    YES, I would miss Google + if it went away. And for anyone who is serious about ranking well in Google, you serve yourself well by learning to like it. Also, it is well known that the intellectual level of users of Google + is higher then the level for Facebook and Twitter. Google + is here to stay, and it’s user base continues to grow. If you have not set up a Google + profile, you are behind the curve, and it is time to get with it.

  • Terry Doherty

    Yes. It isn’t perfect, but our goal is conversation, not just likes. Hangouts are a great option for those of us who can’t afford gotomeeting to host webinars. We get far more engagement – and exposure – on our G+ pages than Facebook. Lots more requests to join communities, too.

  • TJSKI13

    would not miss it in the least, don’t use it, don’t want to use it, don’t recommend to others that they use it…..

  • sadbuttrue

    The forced use of Google+ and its forced effort to try to integrate everything makes me hate google+ and I hope it dies like MySpace. The number of Google+ users is false as most people don’t sign up by choice. Most people sign up because they were in a situation where they felt they had no choice.
    Google+ is soooo Bing in that they had to trick people into using it so they can have these numbers that say people are using their product.
    I have disabled Google+ on my android phone. Surprised the phone still works, lol.

  • Kid & Squid

    Nobody would MISS or show even a hint of feeling SORRY for this piece of fucking shit. Will we FINALLY have the old comment section back? I really wish for old channel designs, too… the current design is just so bland and colourless.

  • Person u dunno

    I would miss it…

  • candle

    hell, I would have a party if it shut down.