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WHAT HAPPENED TO GOOGLE+?

ByTedJanusz

ou may remember that back in June 2011, Google+ was launched as a "social
layer" to enhance Google's online properties. But what is a social layer? Drew
Olanoff of the Next Web explains, "Google+ is a series of tools that are being
layered into Google. The perfect illustration of this is the ability to see the recent
places you've search for on your desktop machine, on your mobile device." As another
example, Google+ members who search on Google.com can get personal results that
include content from Google+.
Maybe so. But many users thought the announcement
of Google+ from the online behemoth would signal the

death ofFacebook.

Two Plusses for Plus


that
differentiate it from the no. 1 social networking site:
circles and hangouts.
If you are like most people, you have famil),, friends,
and people you know at work. There is probably con-

speaker on the topic


of "social media
for baby boomers,"
author, and marketing
consultant. He is the
author of the Social
Media Marketing
Guide for Parking

Professionals,which

isafreepublication
for lPl members and
can be downloaded
from parking.org/
socialmediaguide.
He can be

reached at t*d@
n*spr*s*nlatians.
c*m or 614.440.7487.
ja

14

tent that you share with one ofthese groups that you
might not necessarily want to share with the others.
What may interest your mom may not be the same as
what would be of interest to the people back at the
office and vice versa. With Google+ you can create
distinct groups you can network with, called "circles."
Yet Casey Newton, senior reporter at The Verge
responded, "It might look nice on a whiteboard, but in
practice the circles model is a nightmare. No one can
remember who they put in which circle or which circle
is supposed to see which stuff, and before you know it,
the user has abandoned Google+ entirely for Facebook,
because at least our friends are! there."
Rather than just texting or even using Skype to communicate with another person, with Google+ you can
interact, using both audio and video, in what Google+
refers to as a "hangout." There is no similar utility on
Facebook.

Amir Efrati of The Wall Street Journal says, "While


Google+ has some original features including Hangouts, which let people start a video conference with
up to 10 people-anaiysts and some consumers say the
distinction isn't enough to lure Facebook members away
and persuade them to build a network ofcontacts from
Yet

scratch on Google+."

What Happened?
In a word,

usage. According to a comscore report,

TNTERNATTONAL pARKtNG tNST|TUTE I

if founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to leave the compaThat isn't expected to happen anytime soon, but in
April 2014, Vic Gundotra, who aggressively 1ed Google
into the social networking world with the creation of
Google+, parted ways with the company, leaving the
ny?

Google+ was developed rr"ith two unique features

TED JANUSZ is
a professional

January 2012, users spent 7.5 hours each on Facebook.


On Google+, they spent just 3.3 minutes.
Could you imagine what might happen to Facebook

VRnCI

ZOrS

in

status ofthe product uncertain.

Where to Now?
"The company started too late and its product had the
look and feel of an also-ran, built by David Besbris, w-ho
replaced Vic Gundotra as Google's head of social media,
whistling past the graveyard won't do Google+ any favors.
Its moment came and went, and the time to change is
now," says Newton.
"To be fair, there is indeed a Google+ community that
engages with content, drives traffic, and is passionate
about being on Google+. It's just not a top-of-mind
communiryi' replies Danny Sullivan of MarketingLand.
"Google may have built a solid second-place rival to
Facebook in terms of being

but that's like Bing being

fuIl-featured social network,


solid search challenger to
Google. It doesn't matter. People who are happy with
Google don't shift to Bing; people who are happy with

Facebook-and over a billion seem to be-don't shift to


Google+," he continues.
In the future, we may see Google+ surviving as parts.
'As for Facebook's recent move toward breaking out
some standalone ser-vices as it's doing with Messenger, Google+ already has hangouts, which it has been
beefing up with its Voice service and working to turn

into

a communications hub for Google users," says Kia


Kokalitcheva ofVentureBeat. "The fact that its iOS app
is finally working and looking pretty good is also a sign
that hangouts will be the mobile communications hub
Google reallywants to push."
O