Former Googler’s Google+ Criticism Goes Viral
On Black Friday 2014, as most attention was turned toward sales figures and contemplating our fascination with brawl videos,Chris Messina published a blog post on Google+. And as the tech world (and those who cover it) came back from the long holiday weekend, this piece started to go viral.
Why this blog post?
This summer, there was concern about the platform’s future (following its notable absence from discussions at Google’s annual developers’ conference, Google I/O). And plenty has been written lately on the platform as predictions have been made about its future in 2015. From Frederic Gonzalo in B2C prognosticating, "“Google+ dies and goes to Heaven” to WordStream founder and CTO Larry Kim's declaration, “In 2015 Google+ will die a slow death,” the outlook isn't overly positive.
What has people talking about this particular blog is (aside from its colorful language) is Messina worked at Google – on Google+. The piece is an insider’s take on his own hopes for the platform from what he describes as its “primordial days” to now as someone who has since stepped away from Google, but still cares about its outcome.
Thoughts on Google+ has spread from social blogs like The Social Graf to the mainstream press like CNN. Messina actually added an addendum to his original post, addressing an error in the CNN piece, writing, “For the record, Dear CNN, I was never an engineer on Google+ (though I was both a developer advocate and UX designer). Facts, meh.”
Messina began the blog with an apology for calling out on Twitter what he’d interpreted as a bug that impacted Google+ because of a lack of quality assurance. It turns out it was interference from a Chrome extension.
You know how I can tell that Google isn't maintaining Google+ anymore? They've stopped doing QA. pic.twitter.com/EMAaen0AUW— Chris Messina™ (@chrismessina) November 24, 2014
While acknowledging this wasn’t what he’d originally thought, Messina shares why he was prompted to think it – and share it publicly. “When I thought about what motivated me to lob this snarkbomb, I realized I was looking for a reaction. I wanted some kind of defiant response to questions that’ve recently bugged me – What’s going on with Google+?”
Not only does he ask where it’s going, but he questions its purpose. He contends, “…most people would likely describe Google+ as a newsfeed, a kind of Facebook-lite.” He argues that it doesn’t function as Google’s “social backbone” or “locus of control and access” to information or to control their social presence. He adds, while this may be intentional on Google’s part, then “I don’t get it.”
Messina’s look at the platform becomes personal when he shares: “And damnit all, why and I so disappointed?! When it comes right down to it, maybe I just don’t want to admit that I spent 3½ years working on something that will become irrelevant.” [sic]
Messina writes that when the project’s original name was “Google Me,” he loved what the name suggested: a humanized, personal look at information about people. “It was like Google was saying, ‘We’re going to be your trusted partner in cyberspace, and we’ll help you surface the right information to the people you choose, at the right time.’ The value proposition was search oriented, rather than social.”
So what do we think about Google+ and where it’s headed in 2015?
Our Director of Social Media, Stephanie Frank, predicts: “Personally, I think that Google will be forced to find a better function for Google+ in 2015. An important thing to remember is that Google+ has been used and has gained a lot of content over the past few years.”
“There are celebrities and brands that do use this platform, even if it is not the primary platform for engagement and content distribution,” she adds. Last month, for example, Google+ Hangouts made headlines for hangouts with NASA astronauts and the cast of Interstellar,another with the members of the band One Direction and even one with England's Prince Charles.
Google is famous (or perhaps infamous) for killing off its own products. Silk has a page dedicated to the Google Graveyard, listing products from iGoogle to Reader. Will Google+ share its fate? Stephanie notes: “It took Google years and years to bury Reader (RIP) and this product is much more valuable than that.”
With so many inbound marketing tactics to choose from today, what is the value in sharing content on Google+? The bottom line is this: content on Google+ boosts the indexing of that very same content on Google, thus improving your discoverability in search. Google+ should continue to be part of an integrated marketing approach.
What do you predict for Google+ in 2015?