Is Google+ Finally Being Phased Out?

googlepGoogle+ has always seemed like the step child of the social world. It never really took hold in the mass market as Facebook and Twitter. Google always seemed to have a plan for the service but few ever knew what it was. When it was launched Google+ was to be the center of the Google World.

One of the biggest things that angered people was tying YouTube comments to a Google+ account. This was in part to end the trolling of the comments. If you were part of YouTube before this you NEVER read the comments. It was some of the most vile comments on the web. Anything and everything was open game.

After the 2011 launch of the service many had big hopes for the service. At initial launch is was like Facebook. It had a news feed, games, and Circles (Friends). Circles was a big differentiator for Google+. At this time to group friends on Facebook was a chore. There was no easy way to do it. Google+ let you simply drag a person to a circle and you were done. The share settings could be based on these circles. Facebook changed their settings to some degree after the release.

We saw the unraveling of Google+ with the removal of Google Photos. At Google I/O it was announced that Photos was going to get it’s own app. This would not be limited to just Android or a Google+ account. All a user needed was a Google account and the app on IOS or Android. In the app it had features that Google+ Photos contained. It included Auto Awesome, Editing and Stories.

This week Google Announced that  it was uncoupling the need for a Google+ account from Google Services. The Official Google Blog said “a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change.” This was being rolled out this week across YouTube. This announcement was made on the YouTube Blog.

It is speculated that the next service to get uncoupled from Google+ is Hangouts. As it stands now it’s independent. It can be used separate without a Google+ account. I have used it with different accounts to test it out. One of them is not affiliated with a Google+ profile. After the break out it will be like Skype as just an app.

What does the future hold for Google+? Right now that remains unsure. Google is going to launch a Streams app soon. Ffrom my understanding, will conversation part (like Facebook’s News Feed). No word when that will be released. The current people that are experiencing greatest engagement are people who totally immersed in Google or tech companies.

What does this mean for your business? If you are already involved with Google+ and have great engagement then keep doing it. If you are not on the service and aren’t in a company either involved with Google (including Android ecosystem) or Tech.  I would think twice before creating a page. If you do want to try it. Log in and find communities that are in your wheelhouse and see how conversations taking place.

If you want to read the Google Blog Post on Google+ Accounts head to the Google Official Blog

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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