Google+ is NOT walking dead

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Photo credit: missha via Photopin cc

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post hoping that I could change some of the popular mindset about Google+.

I was obviously naive. Google+ may have gained many new users since then, but the bashing has never stopped.

Yesterday, after Vic Gundotra had announced that he was leaving Google, TechCrunch (TC) decided to tell the world that Google+ was probably going kaput.

At first sight, the article looks like what a typical author at The Onion would put together. But satire is not TechCrunch’s forte. The goal of the site is to provide “news, videos and events about IT companies, technology-oriented blogs, and other web properties.” In a nutshell, they call themselves journalists.

Here are some extracts from the article:

  • “What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • “According to two sources, Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees.”
  • “We’ve heard that there were tensions between Gundotra and others inside the company, especially surrounding the “forced” integrations of Google+ into products like YouTube and Gmail. Apparently, once each of those integrations was made, they were initially being claimed as “active user” wins until Page stepped in and made a distinction.”
  • “It’s not clear, according to our sources’ intel”

Looking for links to those sources? Good luck finding them, because there are none.

Trained journalists know one thing: You should never make a statement if you cannot back it up with valid evidence. Otherwise, you are asking for trouble. There are exceptions of course. In some fields, revealing sources can endanger lives. But it is not the case here. We are talking about Google and the future of its social platform.

What I can tell you about this article is that it is everything but journalism. The authors have not used Google+ (at least publicly) since 2012. Worse even, they are both co-editors at TC. Fact-checking is one of their responsibilities. As a result, their claims are as credible as the ones made by a man who is supposed to predict the weather while living in a dark cell, but has no contact at all with the outside world.

Yes, Google+ is not for everyone. That’s an undeniable fact.

And yes, having reservations about the platform is ok.

What is not, though, is trying to turn speculations into absolute truths.

Google+ is NOT a ghost town. Just because your friends and family are not there does not mean that it is useless. Actually, the whole purpose of Google+ is to allow you to connect with new people who share your interests.

And by the way, Google is not forcing you to do anything either. You are the one who chose to give away your personal information because you wanted to use its services. In fact, don’t we have to do that with every social media site ever created? To take part in conversations, you have to sign up for an account…

So, as fellow social media pro Stephan Hovnanian says, 

It doesn’t matter what happens in the end with the G+ platform, what matters is what we can take away from it when the proverbial cheese does finally get moved. We don’t control this platform, so take it from a guy who actually makes a living talking to people about how to use Google+ when I tell you that as great as this place is, there’s more to life and business. [...] Today, and from here on out, use this platform to connect with people and build your business. That’s what Google wants us to do on Google+. Exchange email addresses (a form of communication which will never go away). Follow them on another platform. Shrink down your activity to build those connections one at a time so that, should there be enough of a shakeup here on G+ to make the social part of the platform unusable, life and business can go on.

Comments

  1. says

    Unfortunately journalists now have to pander to CTRs, views, likes and all that junk, so they go for the sensational and the speculative rather than boring old facts. G+ is pretty much the only platform/product/whatever I use regularly for social media because I can avoid my Facebook stalkers :)

    • says

      Hello Nathaniell!

      It depends on the journalists, actually. Not all of them are looking to write sensationalistic articles.

      But yes, I agree with you on Google+. The platform is refreshing. People are certainly more interesting there!

  2. says

    I love Google+ and was quite disturbed by that article on TechCrunch. I did wonder if it was a bit too seeping in its predictions so it’s a relief now, thanks to you Cendrine, that it was largely a load of hype.

  3. says

    Thank You for that wonderful post. Somebody had to say it out loud. I found the TC article so annoying – to state something without citing any source, and passing off speculation as news is precisely what is wrong with mainstream media these days. 
    Anybody who says G+ is a ghost town has clearly been living under a rock – or just plain dont know how to use it. I myself dont engage a whole lot on G+, but thats because im still a bit reclusive – there is nothing wrong with the platform (or product – call it what you will) .
    Its one of my favourite of all SM sites – you can get all that you have in facebook,twitter, and pinterest in one place, and add to it rock-solid google features like its search. 
    If anyone has to announce about G+’s future post-Vic, its google itself. People should rather wait for official commnunication from mountainview, instead of speculating baselessly. 

  4. says

    Although I do feel that Google needs to step back from tying all its products to Google+ due to privacy and monopolization concerns, I don’t believe this dooms Google+ at all. Google+ is a thriving community that is very different from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or others. Vic Gundotra did a tremendous job, and Larry Page is lucky to have had a leader with a patient and thoughtful approach to developing Google+.

    Google+ can grow without the tie-in to YouTube, GMail, and other Google products — these tie-ins seem to be the gut-sticking point for social network fans who do not like something being forced upon them. What many people do not see clearly is that Google+ has become a training academy for those who use other Google products, and become their proponents or early adopters. You may say “I don’t need to go to school or talk with others to learn YouTube”. But there are some of us who need to pick up the “How-To for Dummies” whenever Google comes up with a fancy new product. And these tips/seminars on Google+ are free, and they are offered by funny, approachable people (not hired by Google) with whom you can easily engaged, and they see themselves as learners too. It’s a virtuous circle of teaching & learning that simply does not exist in any other social network I have engaged in.

    As a result, the content of Google+ is superior to other networks. On Facebook, all you see are friend’s photos. On Twitter, you have mass broadcasts that are applicable mainly to get a virtual experience of some live crowd event. Although Google+ does not have a broad user base like Facebook & Twitter, there are many active curators and fans who generate well-thought-out content on niche topics (of course usually related to Google e.g. Android, Glass, Adsense, etc).

    The nice thing about Google+ is that you can actually have a truly meaningful conversation (no one screaming “Only 140 characters!”) with people that are trustworthy and fun (there are a lot more photos indicating one’s personality/character than a microblog like Twitter). You are not “required” to already be a prior acquaintance of any new contact — it’s easy to see why Google+ fans like the freedom & “breezy” meet-and-greet nature of the platform. Google should celebrate Gundotra’s achievement in creating a unique relationship-building experience. And Google would be much worse off without Google+

  5. says

    You complain this person is no journalist and then you go on to say “Google+ is NOT a ghost town.” That may be true but just like the other person you have no sources and no validity in making the speculation. Are you any better than him/her?

    One other comment about “Google is not forcing you to do anything either.” They may not be forcing you to give up the info but they ARE (in my opinion) combining it with information from other applications they have being used by you and becoming invasive in ways that you were NOT aware of. May not be forcing but it may subterfuge.

    • says

      Mark,

      Those are the same old arguments used by any Google+ hater or someone who hasn’t used the platform much or at all. Anyone spending more than two days on G+ knows that the “ghost town” statement is a big lie. Of course, if all you do is drop links and leave, you will never get any result. The ones who complain about it, are those who use G+ that way.

      It’s not speculation, it’s common knowledge. There are many people to back up that statement because they have been extremely successful with G+. And they are not all geeks and social media professionals.

      I never said I was better than the co-authors of the article. I just made a point that you cannot start a rumor without having valid evidence. I didn’t start a rumor, so I am not sure why you are accusing me here.

      So Facebook doesn’t use your information? Twitter doesn’t either? etc.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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