Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Google+ tried to allow people to use the platform as a place to be social, share their creative work, build their business and network.
For a while it succeeded. It lasted eight years, which is longer than other platforms that fell off the radar after a few years - such as MySpace and Musical.ly. However, this past April, Google+ shuttered for good, with no signs of coming back in the near future.
So what exactly made Google+ die? Why did a few problems seem to cause its downfall while sites like Facebook survive despite multiple scandals?
As some of you know, Google+ was a social media platform launched by Google back in 2011. It wanted to be a groundbreaking site that would allow users to compartmentalize their experience by dividing their connections into circles.
These circles would let you group your contacts into different categories. If you wanted your co-workers separated from your family, you could do that. If you wanted friends and classmates to be separate, you could do that. Ideally, it would have been a one-stop-shop for all your social media needs. And yet, within a few years growth stagnated, while other popular social sites blossomed into online powerhouses.
Let's take a quick look at some of the things that contributed to the death of Google+:
Lack of focus
Most other platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, that started out as strictly social sites that then delved into supporting businesses as their popularity grew. On the flipside, LinkedIn expanded upon its social aspects while still focusing more on the business side of things.
However, Google+ tried to be everything right out of the gate. It wanted to be a professional site, a casual social site, a site for families to connect, and a site for creatives to share their work. Its only semblance of organization were the Communities it had, where people with a certain interest could gather online to talk and share their work.
That lack of focus perhaps made it difficult for users to decide how to use it. What were they going to do with their account? With LinkedIn for their work life and half a dozen other sites for social, what was the angle they were going to take on Google+?
This confusion led to a lot of unused Google+ accounts, and muddled content on profiles. Only companies and those with a clear picture in mind of what they wanted to use the site for were able to get the most out of their experience.
Inability to compete with the big dogs
When people hear "social media", most probably think of the top seven - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, SnapChat and TikTok.
These sites all have a clear focus and had a unique thing to offer, whether it be the ability to find old friends like Facebook, or share pictures that won't last forever like SnapChat. Google+ on the other hand chose to remain as broad as possible to the bitter end. It tried to be a one-stop shop for all things social media.
The very thing that made Google+ unique is what made it stumble and eventually crumble. By never identifying a specific niche or angle, Google+ ended up becoming a forgotten platform to nearly everyone except laser-focused users.
Social media sites are highly competitive, and in the past few years only TikTok has managed to reach the upper tiers. Even then, it isn't as well-known as other platforms. By not being able to keep up with the big seven, it was only a matter of time before Google+ succumbed to its injuries.
Bugs and exposed data
Perhaps the most obvious murder suspect of Google+, the problematic made it much harder for Google to continue to justify the site. This became painfully clear as other Google services like YouTube continued to dominate the video-sharing scene, and more business services hosted by Google were launched.
Google+ announced that an internal audit revealed a bug that put users' information at risk. Another bug was soon found after the initial announcement, which sped up the shutdown process.
Not only did these bugs cause trouble for Google from a monetary perspective, it made Google+ users lose faith in the platform. We already trust Google with so much sensitive information, perhaps more than any other company, so knowing that they can be hacked was a very unsettling realization.
All of that combined, it's easy to see why Google+ ended up biting the dust. Yet it's something that we can all learn from! If your business is active on social media, it's important to know the angle of your content and not be too broad.
Good luck, and happy marketing!