25 April 2014 | Team Tamar

Is Google+ about to ride off into the sunset?

Untitled-1Speculation is rife about the future of Google+ today, with the announcement that Vic Gundotra – the head of the social network – is stepping down from the role.

Whilst the departure of figure like Gundotra isn’t necessarily always a bad sign, TechCrunch is reporting that more shake-ups are on the way for the ailing platform.

A number of the internal teams that make up the ~1,200 staff members at Google+ are currently being moved to other parts of the organisation.

For instance, the team behind Google Hangouts are being moved to the Android team, and speculation is rife that the Photos team are to follow.

When an organisation loses both it’s figurehead and some of it’s most talented team members (responsible for some of the platform’s biggest innovations) you would be forgiven for questioning whether the death-knell is being sounded.

The other big change being reported is that Google products will no longer be required to incorporate forced integration of Google+ – a great piece of news for the (many) people who hated the way Google+ integration was crow-barred into YouTube last year.

Let’s not forget – Google have a long history of ‘sunsetting’ their attempts at social products. Anybody remember Google Buzz? Or Wave? Just two of a long list of discontinued services.

Like their equivalents over at Facebook, Google appear to be pushing a lot of their best resources into the area of mobile development – hardly surprising given the current growth of mobile platforms.

One of the most interesting insights in the TechCrunch piece is the news that Google integration was previously being used to inflate the number of ‘active users’ Google were claiming – something that news sites have been speculating for a while now.

So what does this news mean for us marketers? Well, hopefully very little – unless you’re one of the relatively-small number of brands who were investing heavily in Google+, chances are your social strategy won’t have to change too much. It’ll certainly be a shame if Facebook’s recent throttling of un-paid content left you hoping Google+ would be the great-white hope.

If you ever wondered whether Google+ helps your SEO (clue: it doesn’t) then what Google+ *becomes* could be quite interesting – regardless of most people’s lack of interest, Google still have their hands on a tonne of social data. But with the Fat Lady only just warming up her vocal chords, it’s probably too early to speculate what that next social iteration will be…

Team Tamar