In the startup world, product-market fit is regarded as a key ingredient for success.
In layman’s terms, product-market fit boils down to whether there are enough people willing to use your product.
In many ways, Google+ has struggled for years to realize product-market fit. Google had aspirations that Google+ would go head-to-head with Facebook, but Google+ has failed to become a tier-one social network.
Eric Enge, who works for Stone Temple Consulting, published a report that suggests fewer than 1 percent of Google’s 2.2 billion users were active users on Google+. In analyzing more than 500,000 randomly selected Google+ profiles, he found that 90 percent of people with profiles never posted on Google+.
Google+ has never been widely loved. And it has never enjoyed the same stature as social media heavyweights such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
At best, people loved parts of Google+ such as Hangouts.
So why don’t people use Google+? From a personal perspective, Google+ does not seem to have the same value or utility for social conversations or sharing as Twitter or Facebook.
For B2B professionals, Google+ does not have a “killer app” that would make it a go-to tool. For example, Google Hangouts is a solid way to approach video conferencing but it is not as robust or as prevalent as Skype. And while startups liked Hangouts to collaborate with remote teams, I would suggest Slack is a more powerful tool.
Also, Leo Sun of the Motley Fool points out that “Google+ acts as a useful single sign-on (SSO) tool for all of Google’s services, but there’s no reason to visit the News Feed, which acts as a core for both Facebook and Twitter.”
So, now what?
Is Google+ dead, or can Google figure out a way to salvage things? According to Business Insider, Google+ will be split into two parts: Photos and Streams, potentially positioning Google+ in competition with Pinterest.
The question is whether anyone really cares about Google+’s evolution or makeover. Is Google waging a Don Quixote-like campaign to transform Google+ into something relevant and valued by users (aka having product-market fit)?
This may be a harsh statement but Google+ will likely never be relevant or achieve anywhere near the usage or credibility that Facebook, Twitter, et al receive. This is not to suggest that Google+ will disappear because it will provide some value to Google strategically and tactically.
But Google+ will always be on the outside looking in. It desperately wants to become a tier-one social media player, but it is not going to happen.
Google+’s sad history
One of the problems with Google+ is it was late to the social media game. And once in the game, it struggled. Google’s track record includes flops such as Dodgeball, Orkut and Buzz. And then there was Jaiku, a Twitter-like service that Google acquired from two Finnish entrepreneurs in 2007.
When you look at Google’s social media track record, it has tried to become a social media heavyweight. But, for whatever reason, nothing has worked.
This is surprising, given Google has enjoyed many successes from spinoffs such as Gmail and Google Drive. As one of the Web’s most innovative players, Google has a healthy appetite for risk and the ability to thrive in markets with established players.
In other words, it is a mystery why social media success has been so elusive for Google, particularly considering the emergence of startups such as Tumblr and Pinterest.
Perhaps social media isn’t a core part of Google’s corporate or technology DNA. Maybe people don’t think of Google as a social media creature, or maybe Google simply missed the boat.
For now, Google+’s future is unclear. It could become even more irrelevant, it could disappear, or it could thrive as something different.
Only time will time but I would not place a bet on Google+ becoming a success, especially for B2B professionals looking to engage with their audience or clients.
Photo via MarketingLand
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