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Google Plus (also: Google+ or GPlus) was a ’social network’ of the Google Group, known as Alphabet Inc. today. Among the most important functions of Google Plus were Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, Location, and Photos. To use Google Plus, a Google account or a Gmail account was required. On April 2, 2019, Google Plus was discontinued for private users. Businesses can continue to use the features of Google Plus through Google My Business. In addition, the Google Currents social network for corporate customers was introduced in July 2020.
Since the launch of the social network Facebook, Google has been interested in establishing its own social network. However, it failed to penetrate the market with the release of the Google Wave and received a lot of criticism for Google Buzz. In 2011, Google Plus was launched as an alternative to Facebook. Google's goal here was, among other things, to combine as many other Google services as possible, such as Google Photos, into one service and embed it into a social network.
These were the main features of Google’s social network:
- Google Plus Profile: To use Google Plus, a user profile had to be created. Personal information was requested, some of which is mandatory and some of which is voluntary. In 2012, Google launched the integration of Google Plus profile pictures as so-called Authorship Markup for authors but discontinued this feature again in 2014.
- Google Hangouts: With Google Plus Hangouts, the social network-enabled video chats with other Google Plus users.
- Sparks: Sparks was a newsfeed for current events on Google Plus. Users could customize the newsfeed, receiving information on topics they were interested in, by creating a "Spark."
- Photos: The former Google service Picasa has been integrated into Google Plus as "Photos". Here, user photos can be uploaded and immediately published/shared on Google Plus. A simple image editing of the uploaded image content allows users to qualitatively enhance their photos. In the meantime, Google Plus Photos became the Google Photos service. With it, users with a Google account could manage their digital images and videos. Google Photos uses artificial intelligence, among other things, so that users can search their own images based on certain characteristics via a search bar, just like in Google Search.
- Circles: The "Circles" (German: Kreise) feature were groups of people that each user could create at will to manage and maintain their contacts. The main difference with other social networks is that you don't need permission from a profile to add them to your own Circles. This allows users to track shared information from specific users.
- Plus One Button: The so-called "Google Plus One" button served as a positive signal or “like” User Interface on Google Plus. Furthermore, this button can be implemented on other websites. In this way, editorial posts are provided with a social signal. Google goes one step further: The Plus One Button was placed in the organic search results, next to a search result hit. Google Plus One Button is comparable to the Like Button on Facebook. The integration of the G+ button into the SERP was intended to strengthen engagement with search results by adding a social component.
- Google Plus Local: With Google Plus Local, [[User|users] could discover restaurants, bars, stores, or other places of interest to them in their Google Plus account.
Use for online marketing
Google Plus was primarily designed as a private social network. This means that the platform basically brought with it all the advantages and disadvantages common to social networks. Compared to Facebook, however, Google Plus had far fewer registered users. But due to the automatic creation of G+ accounts when registering a Google account, Google Plus was able to gain many registered users, of which a large percentage was also active.
Google Plus had some advantages for online marketing:
- fast and easy account management
- many interaction possibilities with followers or business contacts
- high reach, due to posts being integrated in the Google SERP with queries to the brand
- representation possibility and internet reference' for local businesses via Google Plus Local
- perfect synchronization with other Google services like Google Maps
- cross-device use possible and well-developed
- management of different contacts via groups (at Google this is called "circles")
- Integration of Google Plus data into marketing campaigns via Google
- AdWords; for example, received Plus Ones can be integrated into search ads.
- Possibilities for Evaluation and Monitoring via Google Analytics given.
A disadvantage, however, was that sweepstakes or similar actions could be carried out less purposefully on Google Plus. This was also due to the fact that there were no apps for Google Plus like there were for other social networks.
Possible uses in marketing
Google Plus had the potential for many marketing opportunities, which are briefly outlined here:
- Strengthening an author profile: Bloggers and website owners can strengthen their author profile by linking their site to their Google Plus account, thus strengthening their "authority" as an expert in a particular field. However, this Authorship Markup was discontinued shortly after its introduction. Google's John Mueller had justified this move, among other things, by stating that the Authorship Markup had negatively impacted the user experience and did not allow for a consistent design on different devices.
- Event coverage: Through Google Hangouts, direct live broadcasts of events could be realized. In the US election campaign, Hangouts were already used several times for broadcasts. The advantage of this was the parallel possible interaction with viewers via chat or SMS. In addition, Google Hangouts could be saved as video clips and archived on YouTube. Today, Hangouts are only possible in the business version of G Suite as "Hangouts Meet".
- Contact maintenance: Company contacts, especially in the creative and advertising industries were often maintained via Google Plus. Actions could therefore be easily realized via Google Plus. Corresponding contact maintenance is possible today in rudiments via Google My Business or the paid G-Suite.
- Dissemination of promotions: Through the SERP integration, offers or promotions, could be disseminated via Google Plus and displayed almost in real-time. Today, only companies with their Google My Business profile have the possibility to post news that is displayed in the SERPs within the company window.
- Campaigns via Hashtags: With the help of Google Plus, advertising campaigns could be launched very easily like on other networks like Twitter via hashtags.
As early as 2014, the German Newspaper WELT critiqued Google Plus, saying that "Google+ is the social media zombie of the Internet". Google Plus had this reputation very quickly since user-profiles were created automatically when opening a Google account. This created millions of unused profiles. Every owner of an Android smartphone automatically had a G+ profile. Thus, G+ had a lot of users on paper but did not actively exchange information on the platform. Thus, Google Plus was not only increasingly uninteresting for the users themselves, but also not an option for advertisers. Google finally pulled the ripcord itself and announced as early as 2018 that the service would be discontinued. In this regard, the fact that Google had already deleted its own G+ profile for France in August 2018 caused a stir in the marketing scene.
Some features of Google Plus live on in the business platform "Google My Business". For example, businesses can respond to reviews from users there or publish their own messages. In addition, Google My Business offers the possibility to put own pictures of the company online. In addition, Google has created a business solution with the paid G Suite, which enables Hangouts and bundles services such as G-Mail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, or Docs. With Google Currents, aspects of social networking are once again possibly within the company.Home users can still use photos uploaded to Google Plus through Google Photos and store videos on YouTube. G+ users had the option to download their chats and other data from Google Plus until the private G+ version was discontinued.
- What Google Plus Learned from Buzz and Wave smarterware.org. Retrieved 04.02.2021
- Google features - tips and plug-ins computerbild.de. Retrieved 04.02.2021
- 300 million users in the stream - Google makes big leap socialmediastatistik.de Retrieved 04.02.2021
- John Mueller on Google Plus on Jun 25, 2014 plus.google.com Retrieved March 27, 2019
- Google Plus Marketing onlinelupe.de. Retrieved 11/26/2014
- Google+ is the social media zombie of the Internet Retrieved March 27, 2019