Around four years ago Google announced it was entering the world of social networks with its own Google+ and there was a lot of initial interest and its growth was rapid.
If you have a read through its Wikipedia page (that means it must be true, right?) it managed to reach 50 million users within 3 months where it took both Twitter and Facebook over 1000 days so people were expecting big things, but it’s not always as simple as that.
Comparing the rapid growth of something with a platform to spring from like Google against Twitter and Facebook is pretty unfair. Launching in 2006 and 2004 respectively, nobody really understood the impact that social media was going to have on the world.
Google+ had the luxury of going into a market that people already understood, having a brand that people already knew and trusted (to some degree) and also having the added advantage of being whispered about being the ‘next big thing in social media’. The buzz and demand that can create will drive a lot of people your way and, if your product is good enough, can make an overnight success.
Unfortunately for Google and Google+ people didn’t appreciate being herded in, having to create a profile to use anything Google related, especially YouTube.
YouTube had enjoyed success for years before Google+ came along and being corralled into this new social platform to continue uploading or commenting didn’t sit well with people.
Finally it seems as though Google are listening to their users and, moving forward, the forced integration will be removed, not immediately though so hold your horses. That being said Google’s VP of streams, photos and sharing Bradley Horowitz has assured fans of Google+ that the platform won’t be disappearing but will know have the opportunity to focus more directly on itself.
What we can take from this is that Google are listening to their users in regards to the user experience and are making moves to improve that which can only be a good thing. Whether Google+ can weather the storm and come out of this transition even stronger remains to be seen but it will definitely be an interesting ride over the coming months.
It remains to be seen if Google can turn things around for Google+ and become a major social player alongside Twitter and Facebook or if this is a quiet admission of failure before winding things down over a period of time.
Google, we are watching.