Written By: Leah Heilbrunn
When Google+ was rolled out in 2011, nobody believed the platform would match up to the Goliath of Facebook – except Google. But, there is nothing really special about this social media site. A user could add people to their circles (like Friends), share photos (nothing new), follow celebrities and interests (similar to Likes), join communities (like Pages), and invite friends to events.
Of all of these features, the most redeeming is Google Photos.. Google phone is a new service that provides unlimited free storage and an easy interface. But… Photos is a separate service that is merely utilized by Google+. The previous photo service, Google+ Photos, is being shut down on August 1st as an early step to update Google+.
However, this update seems too little too late. There was never anything cool and new about the social media platform as membership trickled in but never really boomed. After a couple of unremarkable years for the site, Google overlords decided to impose requirements on Google’s other services to increase membership. All of the sudden, every user of a Google service needed a Google+ account to log in.
The most affected Google site (and the largest behind the search engine) was YouTube. Billions of people use the video-sharing site daily and now, if they choose to comment on videos and interact with the community, a Google+ account has to be made. Google+ became the biggest chore of the Internet. Nobody wanted a Google+ account but many wanted to interact on the dynamic, worldwide powerhouse of YouTube. Co-founder Jawed Karim even wrote on his YouTube page, “Why the f— do I need a google+ account to comment on a video.1” Ouch. People then signed up for Google+, but not to use it. It became a prerequisite for real fun like cat videos and free news content.
The overlap of YouTube and Google+ did find solace in the Hangout on Air. Part of the Google+ Hangout feature, which is an Omegle-like videoconference and chat service, allows YouTubers to “hangout” with their viewer base. The vlogger/content creator can stream live video while having conversations with their viewers. Hangouts on Air stream go directly through YouTube, so viewers can interact through the comments section while the content creator responds in real time. That’s about where the usefulness of Google+ ended. At one point in 2013 Google+ had 300 million “active” monthly users, which didn’t even touch Facebook’s 1 billion active users. “Active” is a flexible term, because an active account could just as well be a YouTube user with a required Google+ account.
While it was trying so hard to become the next Facebook, Google really missed out on the opportunity to create a research-based social media platform. The Millennial generation might as well be called the research generation; in the words of a fellow millennial, “The technological advancement throughout millennial lives has made info so easy to access – we want to know everything because it’s possible.”
Google+ could have integrated the search feature into social connection with each Google search; each time a search is made, Google+ could’ve had an option to find people who have searched for the same thing. Based on school, location, or other shared interests Google+ could have connected users with other like-minded people based on what they search when their interest is piqued. But that might not happen, unless Google developers have a comments box.
Google+ tried to be the next Facebook, but nobody needed another Facebook. As a result, very few, wholeheartedly, used the platform and now Google+ is slowly being abandoned as the access point for Google services starting August 2015. A Google Account will eventually be all you need to use Google services. These accounts are also more secure, as they are not searchable by name like Google+ accounts. Too bad Google+, we really could have had something here. I guess you’ll remain the embarrassing cousin of the social media family.