The dismantling of Google+ another reminder of the perils of social media gluttony
It’s been coming for a while now. In fact, many would say it has been coming since it was launched in 2011. Google+, Google’s attempt at adding a social layer to its product suite, is no longer a one-stop social media portal.
Overnight, it was revealed that the product would be split. Arguably the best feature of Google+, photos, will now get its own app. The rest of the service will live in a place called “Streams”. Additionally, some have suggested this may mean that Google Hangouts, the group video solution, is destined for a change in direction too.
However, the changes aren’t really the point.
This is yet another example of the importance of being channel agnostic. And,it is another example that unless you develop an online destination that services an unmet need, your chances of success are slim.
Channel agnostic = common sense (or at least it should)
First, let’s address being channel agnostic and why it shouldn’t be ignored. Let me preface this by saying that this shouldn’t be an earth-shattering stance. It is a philosophy adopted by many on the back of hard lessons learnt thanks to the manic nature of the social media arena.
Being channel agnostic simply means developing content strategies that can, if required, live (almost) anywhere. The channel is merely the outpost. Calling a social media channel an outpost isn’t meant to diminish the importance of community and two-way dialogue, but heading into a social eco-system to simply ‘engage’ is fraught with danger of a different kind.
Google also sold a number of benefits, overtly and covertly, of the platform / product to encourage use. These include SEO benefits, Google authorship and a few other things. These benefits, of which many are difficult to quantify, shouldn’t be impacted by the split in the product.
The lesson? There is nothing wrong with applying a watching brief to new and shiny platforms before diving in.
New and shiny? Proceed with caution.
This is closely linked to the other warning that should be tabled on the back of the Google+ news.
There are entirely too many new and shiny platforms and products that are developed (and launched) that are different enough to make inroads to the well established channels.
A few months ago, Ello was all the rage, and it prompted me to write a piece on why it faced an uphill battle. It is now considered a ghost town.
Google+ attempted to be a combination of Facebook and Twitter – an open platform that attempted to combine friends and interests in the one place.
It turns out we didn’t want that, and that our hunger and headspace to squeeze another place was minimal.
Instagram has been able to break through thanks to its mobile-first and photo only approach. Pinterest is different enough too. YouTube is the home of video. SoundCloud is the home of audio. LinkedIn is the home of people’s professional lives.
Each of these is very different and very defined.
Google+ isn’t and wasn’t.
Ironically, Google+ photos appears that it’ll be a combination of Google’s old photo product (PicasaWeb) married with a mobile-first interface a la Instagram.
Making the same mistake again?
No-one can confidently say, but if history is the best predictor of the future we may have a partial answer already.