Google+ Will Die a Million Deaths Before It's Gone
One of the funniest recurring jokes in the world of internet marketing and tech is, "Google+ is dead."
We've pretty much been joking about it since the social media platform launched. And we've all made some hilarious graphic for it:
Wait, did I say funniest joke? I meant most overused.
The Beginning of a Long Road to Death
Let's go back to the beginning. Google+ launched in June 2011. It was originally billed as a social network (and by some as a potential Facebook killer). But it's pretty clear that Google never intended to kill Facebook. What's even clearer is that Google was never really sure what Google+ was supposed to be. And maybe that's why it's died so many times.
Believe it or not, the first death of Google+ was the day after it launched when it was blocked by China. A few days later, Iran followed suit. But this was just a minor death in the long history of Google+ deaths.
The second death occurred on August 15th, 2011, when Forbes delivered a eulogy for Google+ in spite of the fact that it reached 25 million users much faster than any other social network. It wasn't really clear why we were eulogizing Google+, but it was clear that not a whole lot was going on over there.
Use It or Lose It
Google+'s third death came later in 2011 when Slate officially declared the social media network dead. The death sentence proclaimed that Google blew its chances to compete with Facebook and cited the fact that even Google's executives seemed rather bored with it. Heck, it took three months for Google's executive chairman to post a message on the thing.
The fourth death for Google+ started in July of 2012 when CNN declared the social network was not dead—yet. Although there was no official death sentence here, the tone was pretty clear: Google+ can't compete. No one uses it. It will die.
A Brief Reprieve from Death
For the next year or so, things were relatively quiet on the Google+ death front. Maybe this in itself was a sign of its imminent death. Or maybe we just got tired of making "Google+ is dead" references. You know, that whole beating a dead horse thing. But when Vic Gundotra left Google in April 2014, it was impossible not to talk about how the end must be near. TechCrunch and Slate were two of many to spearhead the "Google+ is finally dying for real" rally.
You Can Kill the Pieces, but You Just Can't Kill the Beast
But five deaths was not enough. Google+ continued to hang around and take a beating, including another death in August 2014 when Google discontinued its Authorship program. If the death of the beloved authorship didn't drive the final stake through the heart of Google+, what would?
Yet Google+ lived on. That is until March 2015 when it was announced that photos and stream would soon become standalone products. Maybe it was a slow news month, or maybe we had forgotten how much fun it was to talk about the death of Google+, but everyone in the universe suddenly posted an article about how Google+ was as dead as they come.
Except not everyone fixated on Google+'s death. Maybe they were just being contrarians, but several articles focused instead on the life left in Google+. Granted, it was a tiny life perpetuated by a few dedicated cult followers. And some of these articles had subtle undertones that they wanted Google+ to be dead.
A Final Death? Or Just New Life?
And that brings us to July 2015, which many marketers will remember as the official death of Google+. Now that Google has announced YouTube will be separated from Google+, it's game over.
Except it isn't. The "Google+ is dead" articles might be churning out faster than Google can process them, but no amount of shouting "Google+ is dead" will actually kill it. It's beginning to appear that Google+ cannot die. In fact, Google+ may emerge from this even stronger.
Yet even in the wake of Google announcing a more "focused" version of Google+, it seems all anyone wants to talk about is the death of this "failed" social media experiment. We've gotten to the point where every Google announcement is instantly the death of Google+. Hasn't anyone ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?
Google+ Lives On In Spite of Itself
Perhaps all we need to see that Google+ isn't dead is this collection of articles from Ben Fisher. Turns out there are just as many articles about Google+ being alive as there are about it being dead. The funny thing is, with all this infatuation on death, we actually want Google+ to remain alive. After all, if it dies, what will we harp on next?
Google's latest move makes sense. It's estimated that less than 1% of the 2.2 billion Google+ users are actually active. Google has a chance to change things here by getting rid of the crap. Instead of just being the butt of our jokes, Google+ can transform into something that has its place in the unforgiving world of the internet. As Google said with its latest changes, it's time to get "everything in its right place." If only anyone knew what that meant.
Of course, if you are a marketer or business owner, you need to be on Google+. It's not really an optional thing. It's not a social network, at least not in the sense of Facebook and Twitter. Think of it more as an opportunity network. Or maybe just think of it as something that can outlive everything we can throw at it.