I have a confession. No, luckily, my chick on the side doesn’t have one on the way (yes, that’s an Usher reference). But, like Usher, I do have something I want to get off my chest. Here it is: For a long time I really thought Google+ was going to be a big deal.
It’s been close to a year since our social media division collectively blogged about it, and since then many digital marketing professionals have largely dismissed the platform – including my lovely counterparts here at The Cyphers Agency. And yet, secretly, I clung to the idea. I’ll admit I stopped using the platform meaningfully after just weeks of picking it up. Yet I still kind of thought – I’ll be right about this one. It won’t be another Google Wave.
It’s a little embarrassing to confess this a year later… especially because social media operates on dog years. In just that short span of time, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, among other platforms, have become the new social media darlings, leaving G+ in the dust. Yet brands are still experimenting with how to use Google+. The question is: Are consumers?
Just a couple weeks ago, Fast Company released a study from data analytics firm RJ Metrics with findings that back up what my colleagues have been gently trying to tell me for some time. According to the Fast Company folks, “The findings paint a very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity.” Yikes! They have a lot of data points to back this up, and the outlook is grim. The nail in the coffin? Unlike other new social networks that are picking up new users at astonishing rates, use of Google+ is already waning considerably.
Of course, Google’s people have a valid comeback to this. The whole point of Google+ is that you don’t have to post publicly, and of course only public posts can be measured. They promise that there’s a ton of engagement going on in private circles – you just can’t see it, guys! It would be nice if Google released more of their own data, but no such luck for us marketers.
Now, Google+ still has its defenders. Just say, “Google+ is a ghost town,” on some online channel, and you’ll hear 10 reasons it’s DEFINITELY NOT faster than you can blink. And to be fair, brands are doing some really cool things with their Google+ Pages. The experience is highly visual, and there are definitely niche audiences there to be mined. I’m not saying you should throw the baby out with the bath water. Having a Google+ presence could still be a good idea, if only for SEO and branding purposes. But when engagement seems to be so low, and adopting rates are lackluster, I might have to admit… I may have been wrong about this one. May. We’ll see.