№ u7 THE GOOGLE PLUS BUUBLE HAS BURST. WHAT'S NEXT?
Last October (http://goo.gl/xDHUnC
) we’ve evidenced enormous growth of Google+. The numbers (and the speed at which they were acquired) did not fit my imagination. Seeing that straight line of growing numbers could not have triggered any other analogy in my mind but the stock markets. I guess somewhere at that point I thought to myself “what goes up must go down”. Here is a quick note I made soon after I saw Morning with Google+
video with Vic Gundotra.The real boom happens only after the myths get busted. When .com bubble bursted, the real innovation and progress in using internet technology happened. The same will happen to Google+ and social media in general. ... Google+ is getting there and I am personally observing a push back against the myths we created. People need to understand what social media is and what it isn't. We, plussers, need to understand what this platform is about. The sooner we do it, the sooner we'll begin seeing real progress.
One thing I didn’t realize was how soon mythbusting in G+ will begin to happen.THE BUBBLE
Guess what, it's not the TechCrunch club who created the Ghost Town. Media simply labled Google+ according to what it was. This image of Google+ came from us - from within the Plus community.
It was being created when we were minting "The Power of Google+" posts listing all possible and impossible reasons why Google+ is the best social network; when we hoped G+ was about to kill Facebook; when we touted hundreds of millions of monthly active users on network to the crowd outside of Google+. All while Google+ was a truly small network in terms of overall social engagement (if it ever was even intended to be a social network).
It’s like we, from within Google Plus, created lots of smoke around a really small campfire. Of course people will lable it a Ghost Town seeing what we don’t. THE BURST
I’ve invested considerable time into building relationships, creating a strategy, writing, building my following, thinking out loud and convincing others to join Google+.
Nevertheless, in the past week I realized Google Plus as a social network is much much smaller than most of us have hoped. Two years ago, when Google+ was seemingly getting traction and growing at incredible pace, the number of real active users who read posts in Google Plus was around 7M (http://goo.gl/NyC9XF
). And that’s compared to around 140M monthly active users reported officially (http://goo.gl/tzPq6v
). Using this ratio, we can probably estimate Google Plus to have around 20M users who are
That's the root of of the Ghost Town tale - grossly inflated official numbers versus the real activity.
Now that Google decided to deemphasize the Plus brand, we can’t simply put these numbers aside and pretend nothing happened here. A dreadful hangover is sure to follow. Didn’t we all build our estimates and projections about the power of Google+ based on these numbers? Yes we did (even if our calculations did not involve these numbers directly). And making adjustments to our long term strategies will be painful.
Now "Google+ is BIG" bubble is bursting before our eyes (despite the fact it all seems calm after the TechCrunch article rebuttal) and many people are still in denial. But just wait. The story is not over. Watch out for the new wave of The Ghost Town articles. And then another. And yet another. All until Google+ is “deemphasized”
to what it really is. And being what it is is the key to success.THE HANGOVER
First the scale of Plus was inflated, now it is being "deemphasized". Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Google.
A large scale correction is about to happen. I applaud +Mark Traphagen for attempting to look at how events following Vic Gundotra’s departure will unfold (http://goo.gl/9GPqli
). As someone in the comments said, it is difficult for Mark to leave emotional response behind and look at things logically. After all, he is one of the biggest advocates of G+. So can we now hope that finally people will start seeing things clearly? Probably not just yet.
People are still in denial and in their attempt to calm themselves down, plussers refer to vague comments Google's leadership have to offer. But hey, I bet not even Googlers working on Google+ know what’s going to happen. Everything we hear about the future of Google Plus is plain speculation. Even if it comes from the horse'a mouth. Yap, and I am speculating too. The reasons are:#1
: Noone can read Larry Page’s mind. Just read this article. Then try and observe
the changes at Google since the time he came back as CEO and apply these observations to Google+#2
: When correction in stock price happens, the unfolding events are unpredictable. Crowds panic and dump the stock. Just pointing out, Google+ is also an investment. How will the crowds react when they a) realize just how tiny the "social media network" is and b) that perhaps G+ was never intended to be a social media network but rather a social layer to Google’s services?THE CORRECTION
I have no clue what exactly is going to happen to Google+. You can along all the facts in the world in front of my eyes and I will not blink. But there are
a few things I can do today no matter the future outcome:
1) Keep looking at Google+ as if it was a good underlying asset but it's stock price was grossly inflated. It is now in correction. Google+ brand and hardcore plussers will go through difficult times. I believe many people will dump the stock. What happens then? Google+ could reemerge or it could vanish. But the core networks of people genuinely interested in the underlying asset will stay largely unchanged. So, keep building your network. If Google Plus fails or rebrands, you'll find the same people on the new network.
2) Comprehend and refer to the core strengths of Google+ in my future calculations. Those will remain unchanged unless Google decides to kill the product altogether and “focus” on something else. Google Plus is my Reader, Google Help Center, Idea Sandbox and Collaboration Space.
3) Detox, detox, detox. The harder I look at Google plus with no pink glasses on, the better I will do.
4) Diversify. Now is the time for a lot of people to realize that their true property is their own website
and that other social networks are worthy of investment.THE REEMERGENCE
If Google finds a way to correct the past mistakes and present Google+ exactly the way it is, success will come. I don’t think Google+ will ever grow big enough to compete with Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest, but it surely will attract more of that unique crowd that makes the active core of G+ today.
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