In case you hadn’t heard, there are some big changes on the way for the Google+ social network. In a July 27 blog post with the very innocuous title “Everything in its right place,” Bradley Horowitz, the Google Vice President in charge of Streams, Photos, and Sharing, made some very generalized statements about the future of the social platform, statements that many are hearing as the death knell for Google+.
Most of the blog post touches on the reshuffling of many of the elements of Google+. Some new features will be added to the social platform, but many other aspects, such as elements of Google+ Photos and location sharing, will be broken off and integrated into apps and other services. No really groundbreaking news here, as Google has been busy lopping service pieces off of Google+ for the last few months.
The real stunning piece of news in the blog is that you will no longer have to tie all your Google services together under a Google+ profile. All you will need is a Google account, just like it was in the days before Google+ came along. For many Internet and social media marketers, this looks like a nail in the coffin for Google+.
“People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.” – Bradley Horowitz
Google acknowledges their mistake here: Google is not Facebook. The two companies are distinctly different in makeup and purpose. Google is a collection of services and tools (including, of course, the search engine itself), while Facebook is a social network. Google tried to leverage the desire for the services and tools and create their own social network, so they could try to compete with Facebook not only for advertising revenue, but also the real prize: socially-powered graph search data. The first point is a no-brainer; the second, however, is a bit more deeply mired in the future of the Internet, and we have a previous blog post devoted just to this topic.
This strategy of forcing users into their social media network has been a disaster since the get-go. The uproar from YouTube users in 2013, when Google began the Google+ signup crusade, got a tremendous amount of national press, including this article on CNN.
So is it a sweet victory for all who went kicking and screaming into the Google+ web? Not by a long shot. From our perspective as an Internet tech company that works heavily in both social media and SEO, the confusion and frustration that may lie ahead is bigger than any facepalm emoji could ever express.
Our prognostication? It’s all about that graph data. Although Bing is not nearly as popular a search engine, Bing has an alliance with Facebook and a high level of access to Facebook’s data. To compete with this, Google will have to find their own source of graph data, and potentially the best leverage they have is SEO. You can bet we’ll be looking closely at all the new services Google develops for those that harvest graph data. That’s where the SEO power will lie.
What does the slow demise of Google+ mean for you and your business? If you’re wondering what social media can do for your business or would like an SEO evaluation of your web footprint, please Contact Us.