Google+ isn’t Dying, It’s Evolving
Since Google+ first garnered its 20 million users in record time, it has very quickly dropped out of the spotlight. Today, over 80% of its profiles are inactive, meaning most users who signed on to Google+ no longer really use the site. Many speculate that Google+ is by and large dead.
That isn’t true. Google+ was launched as a hard shot at Facebook and social media in general. That shot clearly missed. Few people would dispute that.
However, as a social network, Google+ is still very much alive. It has a core group of users that still use the network religiously. Google is using its +1 feature more and more to gauge the quality of websites, which influences search rankings.
Google+ isn’t dead; it’s simply misunderstood. People are still comparing it to Facebook, which isn’t a good comparison. Instead, it’s a completely different social network altogether.
Users Make the Network What it is
Social network programmers don’t always get to determine what the social network’s eventual goal is.
LinkedIn wasn’t originally built as a social network. It was meant more as a profile viewing tool for professional connections. However, as the social networking field exploded, LinkedIn had to adapt and added many of its social networking features.
MySpace wasn’t built as a music platform. But as Facebook overtook MySpace as a generic social media platform, MySpace had to adapt. Today MySpace is still fairly successful as a platform for musicians to showcase their music and connect with fans.
Orkut was launched as a generic social network, but quickly died off due to lack of hardware and engineers. However, for some reason it really took off in Brazil. Today it’s the largest social network in Brazil, something Orkut’s creators would have never expected.
The bottom line is, the creators of a social network often don’t have much of a say in what the network eventually becomes. No doubt Google+ was designed to overtake Facebook as a generic social network. That hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen. But it’s shaping up to be something very different entirely.
What Google+ is Shaping Up to Be
Google+ is shaping up to be something like a mashup of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
It’s similar to Twitter in that you can add someone to your circles and share your information with them if you choose; but they don’t have to do the same. It allows you to share personal information, while also sharing public information.
It’s similar to Facebook in that Google+ encourages people to add people they know in real life. The circles feature makes it easy to segregate the people in your life and choose what you want to share with the different groups of people in your life.
More than anything else however, Google+ is similar to LinkedIn. This might come across as a surprise to many people, but Google+ is quite the networking tool. By and large the users of Google+ who are still active aren’t teens connecting with friends, but professionals making professional contacts.
Google+ is shaping up to be the social network of the tech-savvy, early adopter, high influencer crowd.
How Google+ is Different
So how is Google+ different than all the other social networks out there? Well, Google+ has three big competitive features.
First, it has the +1 feature, Google’s own in-house voting mechanism. Getting a lot of +1s on your content will help boost your search engine rankings much more than getting Facebook likes. Fortunately, the people on Google+ are also the people who are most likely to use Google’s +1 feature.
Another unique feature is the nearly unlimited length of Google+’s posts. Unlike Facebook or Twitter which have character limits on what you can post, you could post an entire article of content on Google+.
Finally, you have hangouts. Hangouts are a completely free video conferencing tool, something that’s never been done on the internet before.
Google+ isn’t Facebook, but it most certainly isn’t dead. Instead, it’s going through an evolution. Much like MySpace and Orkut both had to go through a dying off and then a rebranding period, so too must Google+. Once it has solidly found its market and its brand, it’ll re-emerge strong and healthy again.