The social media world has been positively giddy with anticipation, speculation and conjecture over this story, which purports that Google is looking to abandon Google+, at least as it exists today. Much of this is coming from the collision of two groups: First, writers who found a bone to chew on on an otherwise apparently slow news day. Second, those who have been all too eager to see the predictions of Google+’s demise come true and so latched on to the story – which simply connects one fact and a handful of unsubstantiated rumors – as a proof point.
I don’t claim to have any special insights into Google’s decision making process but from my point of view this isn’t the time for the company to abandon the Google+ platform, it’s the moment to double-down on it and start making a serious sales pitch of its virtues to social media publishers and marketers.
As has been covered and discussed ad nauseum, Facebook is on everyone’s list right now over changes to their News Feed algorithm that are resulting in brand Pages seeing decreased engagement, lower levels of Reach and so on. So right now every marketer and publisher worth his or her salt is pouring over metrics on a regular basis either assessing the existing damage or waiting to see the first signs of this change starting to impact their Pages.
But Google+ – like Twitter – doesn’t have any such algorithm in place. And while it’s slowly become more and more widely adopted it’s been waiting for an opportunity to really say “Here’s what differentiates us from Facebook,” with the lack of said distinction being one of the primary reasons for the slowness of the uptake.
So while I can’t argue with the logic of moving some of the functionality to the background and, as some have speculated, creating a new and better version of Google Accounts I also think this is the moment Google needs to come out with case study after case study about the value of Google+; Who it’s working for, where and how brands are seeing success and so on. This is their moment.
Aside from that, any marketing professional who sees a story like this – which reads like half speculation and half a planted hit piece to me – and suddenly recommends a drastic change in strategy doesn’t have their head on straight. As with any change, real or imagined, it helps to know more about the situation before going off any deep ends.
There are a lot of good things about Google+ for brand publishers to consider if they either haven’t put their toes in those waters or haven’t figured out exactly. And I’ll admit I was slow to come around to it as well. But once I started playing around with it it became a valuable tool in the publishing programs I help manage.
So back to my point: This is an opportunity for Google to make the value proposition to publishers that it can be what Facebook no longer is for them. That is, of course, assuming they know it themselves.