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The Fall of Google+: The Need for Thoughtful User Adoption Centered Strategy

ImageRecently Google announced the resignation of Vic Gundotra a chief executive and visionary of the Google+ platform. Publications like Techcrunch already have detailed what this could mean for the future plans for the entire platform. At the very best Google+ is destined as a stand-alone platform. The once grand vision of a social network that would unify all Google products and rival and un-seed Facebook and Twitter in relevance and usability has been officially deemed a forgotten dream. In the end, even with Google’s might, they still couldn’t force the market to adopt the platform. To really understand where Google went wrong in their user adoption strategy, one needs to analyze the different phases of development and user engagement.

Phase 1- Happy Beginnings: Google+ Launch Generates Buzz & Excitement

Similar to other Google products the initial release was an invite only affair. The only way you could join the platform was through a forwarded invitation. People were eager to test out the platform where you could classify friends by circles, have multiple viewer controls and neatly organize your social network and link it across google products.  After signing up for the account though many users quickly realized that there were no significant differentiators or added social user value by using Google+. Most people signed up, created a basic profile and went inactive nearly immediately. Google created a buzz but failed in executing a differentiated, value driven customer proposition through Google+.

Phase 2- Open the Gates: Gmail Users, Company Platform

Google understood that there was not enough user engagement or sustained social interactions across the platform. Their solution to address this was to have everyone who has a gmail account be automatically signed up for the platform. In addition Google rewarded active users by promoting their posts and reputation through search engine rank results based on their Google platform content.

Companies slowly became aware of the value of posting and engaging in Google+ for SEO purposes. They could suddenly get an uptick in visibility on new content and existing pages by promoting them on Google+. Marketers and agency strategists preached the importance of the platform and its “unlocked potential. To this day one can find that most business pages on G+ have more posts than the bulk of it’s North American user base.

Google broke its cardinal rule and standard operating ethos by trying to “game” and incent users to the platform rather than have the experience of the platform be the primary draw.

Phase 3- Unwinding: All Mediocre Things Must Come to an End

Google realized that despite the grand vision and unified intent of Google+ the lack of market traction and “organic” interaction spelled doom. It was not enough to have the large user base, the incentives and the user friendly platform. The platform became a punch line with marketers only using it for the search engine rewards it afforded. At the end of the day the platform frustrated users and tied them unwillingly into the Google+ ecosystem. The end of the current vision of the Google+ platform shows that even Google cannot buy or coerce user engagement and adoption.  Google+ is a perfect case study for the need of thoughtful user adoption centered strategy in marketing. 

Photo credit: Google

Join The Conversation

  • CommCreative's picture
    May 14 Posted 3 years ago CommCreative

    Thanks for your insightful comments. In terms of the hangouts platforms and other google tools those could have been and most likely would have been developed through G chat even without the investment in Google +. Despite some pockets thriving in G+ the platform as a whole fell way under Googles grand expectations and it really failed to be the market disruptor we all anticipated it would be.

  • gonzogonzo's picture
    May 10 Posted 3 years ago gonzogonzo

    Hmm, not too sure about this one. "All mediocre things must come to an end" seems a little strong. I agree G+ has seen most of its glory days and uptake from marketers and SEO aficionados who could see the value within the Google ecosystem for brands. Yet I have discovered through time many pockets of interesting communities who don't thrive on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter.

    Google+ provides an excellent platform, in particular with Hangouts for real-life meetings and webinars, not to mention links with other Google tools like pictures, videos, etc. Having said that, I agree that mainstream public did not jump onboard, but does that make it a mediocre thing? Not necessarily so.



  • ian143's picture
    May 9 Posted 3 years ago ian143

    I'll stick with G+, I happen to love the format with communities and being able to organize certain people in certain categories eliminating the need to second guess myself every time I post something for fear of the wrong group or person seeing a post which negatively impacts them.

    Facebook is old hat don't care how popular it is. Its survival is based on users refusing to accept something new and innovative like G+ and I still will not use it based on many factors the least of them Zuckerberg's affinity for supporting causes and pepole of questionable morals.

    Those who choose to interact with me know to find me on G+ and its works. I see no demise of G+ I see unwilling users refusing to adapt to a better way of social media communication.

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