The quick-scan version of this post (all you need to know as a user):
- The upshot: You will eventually no longer need to have a Google+ account to access Google-owned platforms such as YouTube. This will be rolled out in stages “over several months” according to Google’s vice president of streams, photos, and sharing (yes, that’s his title). But you get to keep using Google Hangouts, with enhanced location services — and, if you were into it, photo-sharing options.
- The feeling you should have as a user: Joy and relief.
- What you can say at your next cocktail party or water cooler conversation to sound like you’ve been tracking Google+ all along: “Google’s experiment with Google+ is a cautionary tale about trying to appeal to a large audience without having a well-defined purpose — and about creating a confusing user experience. Google lost its focus with Google+, and some of its new changes should help it regain momentum for features it has executed well. You caught the great piece in Mashable about it, right?”
The long read, for those of you who, like me, geek out over the back story of anything related to how we communicate (or don’t) with each other over social media channels:
Academia has “ABD,” that designation for someone just shy of a Ph.D. (“all but dissertation,” or known even more colloquially as “all but done”). For the past 18 months at least — if not longer — my answer to anyone who asked about Google+ was, “It’s ABD — all but dead.”
There had been rumors periodically. In April 2014, I excitedly retweeted Eric Schwartzman because I hoped it meant the end of the network was here:
Hmm…! RT @ericschwartzman: Google allegedly planning to dismantle Google+ http://t.co/KGKkzLUbL5
— Rose Tantraphol (@thecuriousrose) April 25, 2014
And yet . . . the social networking site hung around like the party guest who insists on staying in your house even after everyone else knows it’s time to leave, which meant, given what I do, that I had to be around it as well.
Worse, Google+ didn’t just hang out — it inserted itself into everything. Everywhere you turned in Google land, you still had to have a Google+ account.
Even worse, for me anyway, you had a Google+ account even if you didn’t create one. (I have a Google+ account for the gmail account associated with my yoga blog, for instance — but I don’t use Google+ through that account, which meant some people trying to connect to me were connecting to an account I didn’t use.)
This requirement is finally changing, signaling that the social network is finally ready to let Google+ in its current incarnation go. From the announcement blog post:
Four years ago when we conceived of the “Google+ Project”, we made it clear that our goals were always two-fold: Google+ aspired to be both a “platform layer that unified Google’s sharing models”, and a product / stream / app in its own right.
This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing. For instance, and perhaps most controversially, integration with YouTube implied that leaving a comment on YouTube (something users had obviously been doing successfully for years) suddenly and unexpectedly required “joining Google+.”
We decided it’s time to fix this, not only in YouTube, but across a user’s entire experience at Google. We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google… other than using Google+ itself.
If you’ve ever been in the unfortunate position of having to manage a Google+ account (a position that Scott, my co-founder, and I have been in) — especially for multiple client accounts — you know exactly what I’m talking about. Without boring you with the details, Google+ launched without the option for business accounts — yet businesses were penalized if their accounts were created in a way that violated the Google+ Page requirements.
Page admins, remember that time in 2011 when you slammed down your fists thinking you were missing something, only to google and find this, confirming that it was Google+, and not you?
If we learned anything from creating our own account, it’s that Google+ Pages’ administrative capabilities could use improvement. Avoid creating your business page through just any old account, such as a personal gmail account. Instead, choose a gmail account that is accessible to multiple members of your marketing team (e.g. email@example.com), and use that account to create your page. Because Google+ Pages’ administrative capabilities currently don’t seem to be as sophisticated as Facebook’s (which enable you to assign multiple page admins regardless of the page’s origins), you’ll want to choose a host account that makes your page as accessible to multiple contributors as possible.
Note: Because of overwhelming user feedback, the ‘Google+ Your Business’ Google+ Page (confused yet?) has indicated that Google+ has already started working on multi-admin support and ownership transfer, which will be available in the coming weeks/months. For now, we recommend making your account as accessible to other team members as possible.
Mashable isn’t always the best place for a long read about an issue, but its story, “Inside the failure of Google+, a very expensive attempt to unseat Facebook,” is excellent. I highly recommend it. My takeaway? That Google launched this network out of fear rather than spurred by an innovative idea. And it showed in the clunkiness of the user experience.
When we launched Moonsail North, we grudgingly created a Moonsail North account because, as a firm that helps organizations understand social media platforms, we knew we still had to be in that space to be able to advise clients on what was happening there. Yet we knew better than to actually focus our energies on the network. Had we done so, we would have been siphoning important time off our main channels — our newly #Create Zone on Instagram, our Facebook hub, our LinkedIn space and Twitter — because, as the Google+ trajectory has illustrated, focus is important.