You might have noticed that your Google+ links are disappearing from their once prominent places on top of Google’s pages, and in Gmail too.
Your name will still appear there (Google wants to give its users a personalised experience after all), but it seems that trying to coax you onto the social network itself is no longer in Google’s interests.
You can still reach Google+ through the grid menu – the place where Google experiments go to die.
This doesn’t affect Search Plus Your World, however. Most people probably won’t think to log out of Google+ until they get a new computer or device, but they can’t do it unless they log out of Gmail anyway.
Google is killing access for the curious, because it knows Google+ won’t now reach the critical mass required to monetise the platform. 9to5Google’s Stephen Hall made the point that if you actually use Google+, it’s only one more click away, and this probably won’t put you off.
But it certainly won’t help to switch new users on.
Advertisers go where the eyeballs are, and there are too few eyeballs on Google+.
The apparent death of the platform won’t really change the company’s strategy too much. Google wants to provide users with a personalised experience, and the social network was one way of achieving that.
This is similar to how it wants to make sure experts on any given topic are displayed prominently in search results – the authorship programme was one way of doing that.
I say the ‘apparent death’ of Google+, because I know some people are still squeezing some life out of the platform and achieving positive ROI. I wouldn’t suggest anyone abandons the platform if they are having some success with it.
It’s one of the few platforms where organic reach is everything, and you don’t have to pay to play.
But if you haven’t found a way to make it work yet, this is now unlikely to change.
A shrinking audience means shrinking ROI.
More importantly, there is more money on other social networks – money that is easier to get at.
Google seems to know this too, hence the rumours of the search giant acquiring Twitter, which has already reached critical mass.
Google+ was very “un-Google-like”, because it couldn’t sell advertising on the app. Twitter is a playground for advertisers; it’s one of the best ways to talk directly to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Google was using Google+ to influence search (and in this case, advertising), but the platform itself didn’t really add any value to the audience itself; therefore it had to go.