(Part I) Dead Platform Walking: Why Google+ May Be On its Way Out
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

When Vic Gundotra first left Google in April 2014, the company vehemently denied any prospect that the social network Google+–Gundotra’s pet project–would take a back seat. More than a year later, it looks like that’s exactly what is happening.

[RELATED: Google Unveils Reorganization Plan and Announces New Parent Company Called Alphabet]

“We’re going to continue focusing Google+ on helping users connect around the interests they love and retire it as the mechanism by which people share and engage within other Google products,” said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of streams, photos, and sharing, who oversaw the new Google Photos product. “Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired.”

It makes sense that Google is divesting resources from Google Plus. According to a study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting; a digital marketing agency, some 90% of people with Google Plus profiles never made a public post. Additionally, of Google’s 2.2 billion users, less than 0.5% or 111 million have active profiles. Of those 111 million, just 6.7 million have at least 50 posts, and only 3.5 million had at least 50 posts in the last 30 days of the study.

An example of Google+ elements that will be retired is the forced integration of G+ into Gmail and YouTube. Now YouTube commentators are no longer required to use Google+ before they sign on. Horowitz said himself that this led to product experiences that “users sometimes found confusing.” Google split Google+ from its Google Photos app in June. “It was important to me that when we launched Google Photos, we stressed that the product implements sharing by any means a user prefers … without compromise or agenda. This is the right thing for users and the feedback and usage has been extremely validating,” said Horowitz.

Here are some other changes to Google+ that could affect your business and customers:

  1. In the coming months, a Google account will be all one needs to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel, and more, all across Google. “We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google … other than using Google+ itself,” said Horowitz.  YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change. But an individual’s underlying Google account won’t be searchable or follow-able, unlike public Google+ profiles.
  2. The company added a new feature called Google+ Collections, where you can share and enjoy posts organized by the topics you care about. Because these can be shared publicly or privately, businesses can build collections based on topics relevant to their products or services.
  3. Some features that aren’t essential to an interest-based social experience, like the Google Photos app for example, are being moved out of Google+. The company has also started putting location sharing into Hangouts and other apps.
  4. For people who have already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, Google has better options for removing those public profiles.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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