On 2nd April 2019 Google officially pulled the plug on their own social media platform called Google Plus. You may or may not have heard of this Google product, that was initially late to the social media party…
For those who don’t know much about the search engine’s own ‘social’ site, Google was a little late in designing a social media platform when the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace (do you remember MySpace?) launched over 15 years ago. Facebook, in particular, hit it off in 2004 with it’s pokes, likes and many people finding long-lost friends and family. Google launched Google Plus (also known as G+) in 2011, to join in the digital buzz online.
In our experience, Google Plus wasn’t the most intuitive social media platform. We used to deliver a training workshop called “Google Plus: the good, the bad and the ugly” which covered the pros and cons of a business having a Google Plus Page as well as how to use it. We often said that the Google platform was definitely worth some attention even if it took a little while to get used to it. The major reason being that it helped to improve your website SEO.
So, what were the pros and cons of Google Plus?
- Not easy to navigate – many times you’d click a link and it would open in another tab. You’d end up with 5 or 6 new tabs open, all within Google Plus
- Not easy to link up with other Google products – all Google products need to be set up under the same Google account (usually under a GMail email address) in order to ensure they are all linked.
- LOADS of people ended up with a Google Plus Profile (or multiple profiles) because Google products were accidentally being set up under separate accounts.
Example: If a client works with a team of specialists for their digital marketing;
1) The web developer might set up Google Analytics and Google Maps for the website
2) The videographer would set up YouTube
3) And the marketeer might set up Google Plus
Unless they all use the same central Google Account for the client, each Google product would automatically be set up under individual Google accounts, or worse, under the account of the Web/Video/Marketing person’s account. I once carried out a Social Media Review for a client who had 4 Google Plus Profiles and 2 Google Plus Company Pages. They didn’t even know about Google Plus at the time and only had access to 1 of the accounts. Confused? Yes, it really was confusing. And the worst bit was that it was super difficult, sometimes impossible, to merge them together once they were set up.
- It kept toggling between the old version and the new version for months. In 2015/2016 Google Plus had a face-lift. Google decided to try streamline and ‘simplify’ their complex social media platform for the benefit of existing users – who tended to be website developers, SEO experts, digital marketeers and other geeky peeps (like us) – and to encourage new blood to sign up.
- The main one being that it helped you get ahead of your competition on Google Search and helped with your website Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). If you had Google Plus (and use it) but your competitor didn’t, which one would Google most likely favour if someone searched for a product or service you both have? Yours – because you use one of their products. Total favouritism!
- It was keyword and hashtag searchable – like a search engine in it’s own right
- You could use it like a blog. As long as you were using keywords and phrases that you wanted to be found for, it was easy to copy and paste content from your other social media accounts and use it on Google+ too. Links were good, photos were good and videos were great! Especially if linked through YouTube
- When your Google products were all centralised and linked through the same Google Account, they worked very well together – this is still the case today, just minus Google Plus
Overall, Google Plus, in our opinion, was a pain to work with. However, the very fact that it made your website more likely to be seen in a Google Search, topped all of the niggles and annoyances.
When delivering Google Plus Training or when we optimised client social media accounts in the past, we’ve often explained it like this:
You don’t use Google Plus to engage or build a following. You use Google Plus to help you rank higher in a Google Search. Imagine that your a company that sells cups in Yorkshire and I am also a company that sells cups in Yorkshire. I have a Google Plus Company Page and you don’t. I’m using Google Plus, posting about “blue cups, yellow cups, plastic cups, recyclable cups, glasses, mugs, Yorkshire mugs, mugs in Yorkshire etc…” and using lots of keywords, but you’re not even on Google Plus, who’s more likely to come up higher on a Google Search if someone was to search for “mugs Yorkshire”?
What’s next instead of Google Plus?
The truth. We’re not sure. Alex, Luis and Esther attended a Google Workshop (via the Digital Enterprise Programme) to find out what’s new with Google in 2019. However, there wasn’t anything officially announced about what will replace Google Plus.
We think that it’s likely to be a development in Google Maps and Google My Business. But there is also a whisper about Google redeveloping Google Plus in some way. We hope that whatever the result may be, that it’s more user-friendly than the original social media platform and easier to control Google Products from a central point.
Don’t forget about YouTube!
YouTube was launched in 2005 and has absolutely boomed! It’s been predicted that by 2021, 75% of mobile content will be video. That’s only 2 years away! Having videos on YouTube, (another Google product) is likely to also help you with (what I call) Google ‘brownie points’. Obviously, this isn’t something we can prove. However, it makes sense. YouTube is also forecast to be developed into more of a social platform but again, it’s not clear what this may look like or when it may happen.
Watch this space…
Social media can be confusing and overwhelming if you try to do too much too soon. So please don’t read this blog and then go straight over and sign up for YouTube, Google My Business and Google Maps etc. Have a think about what social media platforms you need to be on for YOUR business right now and how much time you can allocate to keeping them live. If you have a marketing team, you’re more likely to have the resources to do more than a micro-business or SME. Get to grips with a couple of platforms and then venture to others when you have more time and a bit more confidence.
Technology is constantly changing and developing – Google is no exception! We’re keeping our eyes and ears open to hear about what’s next for Google.
Did you use Google Plus? If so, what were your thoughts about it? We’re relieved it’s gone BUT we are really intrigued to know what Google has planned next.