For anyone who follows social media news, this might come as no surprise. Vic Gundotra, who was the head of Google Plus, recently announced his departure from the Google social media wing. The announcement carried with it a restructuring in how Google Plus will staff and treat the social network going forward.
In a recent interview with TechCrunch, a Larry Page stated the following concerning Mr. Gundotra’s internal departure, “we’ll continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever-increasing number of Google+ fans.”
While this sounds fine and dandy, the truth about Google Plus might be darker than the company is letting onto.
In the coming months, the Google Plus team, which is comprised of roughly 1,000 – 1,200 Google team members will be transitioned to other parts of the company. On that move, a Google publicist gave the following statement to TechCrunch, “Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy—we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts, and Photos.”
With the overall shifting in internal resources, the question has to be asked, what will become of Google Plus?
By Google’s own admission, Google Plus hasn’t kept pace with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat or pretty much every other social network. While the reason for Google’s social network not keeping pace is debatable, it might also come down to the backlash from the forced Google Plus/Youtube integration.
To spur users and interaction in Google Plus, a few months back Google made the silly choice to join Youtube and Google Plus. The joining meant every Youtube user (a Google property) would have to have an active Google Plus ID. Moreover, the push tried to clean up Youtube comment sections by forcing users to provide a full name for all of their Google accounts. The thought was simple: if someone is using their real identity as opposed to an avatar, the Youtube comment section wouldn’t be as vile.
As you know now, the move didn’t work out well. It didn’t work out well at all. The backlash against Google and Google Plus from Youtube users was not pretty. Thus, Google was forced to rescind their fusing plans and think of other ways to grow the Google Plus community.
The truth is Google Plus isn’t keeping pace. Even as the Community sections of Google Plus continually proves to be a wonderful tool for information, informed interactions and concept education, the overall Google Plus user base is no where near as wide or active as Twitter or Instagram.
Where to Now?
Google won’t admit it but this might be the final turning point for the hard to sell social network. With the head of the unit leaving and with more than 1,200 company employees being transitioned to other Google projects, this might finally be the turning point for Google Plus.
Sure, the social network will continue to work on GIF integration, community interactions, photo filtering and easy sharing across platforms, yet all signs point towards a zombie social network.
As stated by arstechnica:
“It’s unclear what the future of Google+ would be…Google itself isn’t even sure what to do with the rest of the Google+ team members. TechCrunch says that G+ is not officially dead, but with Gundotra gone and the resources being stripped away, the project seems more like the “walking dead.” We imagine that internally, it’s more like a drastic scaling-down of the social network, which at one point was deemed so important to the company that every employee’s yearly bonus was tied to Google’s success in social.”
For all their efforts, it seems that Google Plus might be slated for the large dustbin of Google products that never really took off. If that is the case, at least Google Voice will have a social community to chat with.