Faced with the success maintained by Facebook and Twitter, not to mention new players like Instragram and Snapchat, would Google consider jumping the social networks ship?
The company seems to be distancing itself from Google+, even though it was still trying less than a year ago to do all it can to force the adoption of its social network – notably by imposing its use before you can comment on YouTube.
Let’s not forget that last April, Vic Gundotra, the same person who piloted the Google+ project, announced that he was leaving the company after 8 years with Google. Faced with the news, the search giant was keen to reassure the users of its social network by declaring that the survival of the latter was not threatened.
But three months later, Google changed the Google+ usage policy clause, which required the service to be used under its real identity. It is possible that this decision was influenced by the wave of closing Facebook accounts using pseudonyms observed by several of its members and having recently had repercussions in the LGBT community. Nonetheless, the banning of pseudonyms has always been presented as one of the main features of Google+.
Subsequently, the Californian company discreetly removed the markup information about the author of the results of its search engine. This feature, named Google Authorship, displayed the name and photo of the author of an article next to a result matching the query, along with a link to the Google+ profile of the author in question.
Moreover, the influence on the referencing that should have been exerted by the sharing and the support of an article on Google + never seems to have really been established, despite the insistence with which Google tried to convince the biggest fans of the SEO.
Finally, the knockout punch was given last week: from now on, users who wish to open a Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive or Google Play account are no longer required to register also on Google+.
What is the fate of Google’s social network?
Despite what Google’s behavior towards Google+ may suggest, the initiative launched in 2011 is far from being a failure comparable to Google Wave. The company said in October 2013 that Google+ was actively used by 540 million users each month, almost twice what Twitter said last July.
Any devil’s advocate is entitled to ask what Google means by “active use”. After all, the links between these other services and the social network probably influence a person’s activity rate on Google+ (for example, writing a comment on YouTube causes sharing on Google+, If the user does not uncheck the option).
Obviously, Google has two options: to completely abandon Google+ or to review the strategy of its social network. For Google+ to be a real success, it is imperative that the platform departs concretely from the competition.
In short, Google must find a reason why a critical mass of Internet users prefer to use Google+ to Facebook or Twitter. Imitation is clearly not the solution.