When Google teased new features like +Events and +Communities, it seemed the web search giant might tap into as-yet-undreamed-of ways to connect attendees with each other.
We’re still waiting.
Late last month Google exec Vic Gundotra posted on Google+, the platform he helped to build from the ground up over the last eight years, that he was leaving the company. His post didn’t mention what was next for him or for Google+ as a social network, and just hours after the announcement, the Silicon Valley-insider site Tech Crunch posted what amounted to an obituary for Google+, pronouncing it the “walking dead.”
Should we be surprised? Tech gurus were predicting the death of Google+ as far back as 2011. Google’s official line is that their social network isn’t going anywhere, but the company has a long history of unsentimentally killing off projects.
The oft-cited problem with the Google+ is that it offers no unique advantage over competitors like Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yelp. The network’s original concept was to offer the functionality of each of these sites all in one place. The problem? It amounts to TMI.
A corporate event planner in Pennsylvania probably doesn’t care about my Brooklyn restaurant reviews, and my old college roommate almost certainly doesn’t care about new federal restrictions on meetings. Google+’s “Circles” feature allows me to separate out family, friends, business associates, and people I “follow” so that I can broadcast different content to these different groups. But why bother, when the content can be so easily found elsewhere?
For example, the #eventprofs Twitter community has hundreds of posts a day — but did you know there’s a Google+ #eventprofs hashtag, too? The Google+ incarnation of #eventprofs is more of a “shadow self” than an independent entity: in the last 24 hours, there were 31 Google+ posts with the #eventprofs hashtag attached. In the time it took me to write this paragraph, there were 27 new #eventprofs posts on Twitter. I’ve rarely seen a post from an industry contact on Google+ that didn’t pop up in my Twitter feed first.
While Google+ may be dead in the water as a social enterprise, some of the coolest features like Hangouts and Google Photos are likely to live on. Hangouts, which allows users to instant message and video chat via computer, phone, or tablet, is the tool of choice for Team Convene’s twice-weekly editorial meetings. Google Photos offers a vast amount of free photo storage, painless image correction, and advanced auto-tagging features.
We’d love to hear what you think. Are there any #eventprofs out there who see a bright future for Google+?