The Big G was too embarrassed by yet another social network failure to flip the switch on their failing product Google Plus. They instead chose to strip it for parts after having inserted it into numerous other services. That unwinding was difficult and went on for years. Google discovered a security vulnerability that exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users way back in March 2018. It’s concerning that the main reason they’re talking about it 7 months later is because the New York Times was in the process of writing a story.
Funny But Not Funny
This tool was largely treated as a joke in digital marketing related industries. I have all kinds of stand up material that centers around G+. My favorite way to describe the tool is a quote that draws a powerful mental picture. It’s from a Microsoft Developer blog “Why I Left Google” by a former Googler James Whitaker, “Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.”
I like another analogy that this social network was like a skin laid over the top of the powerful search engine. Every piece of content and each action was data that dripped down into the larger machinery to inform search and ads. The agenda was never about people and connecting them, it was about making more advertising dollars. (Well, that and knocking Facebook off the top of the hill.) The difference between Google’s approach and that of Facebook is at least FB’s original intent was to connect college students, and later all people, to each other. The ads came later.
No One Needs Another Facebook
Though superior in design to Facebook, Google Plus didn’t offer enough compelling reasons to join for the majority of internet users. They stuck to what was already working for them and where their friends were. I regularly asked people why they didn’t use Google Plus and the answer was always “Why switch when everyone I know is on Facebook?”
While I’m not sad about the data that was exposed (they say it wasn’t that big of a deal but of course they’re playing it down) but I am sad that I can’t laugh uproariously about the consistently poor choices made as well as the inauthentic and disastrous attempts at engineering human behavior.
Did you or your clients have a positive experience with G+? I am truly curious.