How Perception Became Reality and I Had to Breakup with Google+

dear google plus

I’ve had this letter tucked away for a few months now.

It’s time to stop pretending.

Today I’m officially breaking up with Google+…

Dear Google+,

It’s not you, it’s me.

Seriously. You’re amazing and have done nothing wrong.

I love you dearly and I will always cherish the time we’ve spent together.

I love you because you taught how to establish, refine and grow a personal brand.

I love you because you taught me how listen and ask deeper questions.

I love you because you taught me how to educate, entertain and inspire an audience.

I love you because you taught me how to mix media, medium and message.

I love you because you taught me how to be a great content marketer.

But its time for us to move on.

Its time to see other people.

This isn’t an easy thing to tell you.

But something has changed. The spark has disappeared. The lust is gone.

At some point, I can’t tell you when exactly, perception became reality.

You’re not the ghost town so many have claimed you to be. You’re beautiful and wonderful.

We’ve experienced so much together. We were best friends. We’ll always be friends.

How much fun was it sharing long diatribes paired with ridiculous gifs?

Your subtle quirks still make me smile.

You helped me become the content marketer I am today and I will never forget that.

But it’s time to move on.

I’ll still be on your hangouts, participate in your communities and build well curated collections, but its time for new challenge.

Sincerely,

Ryan Hanley

I Will Always Love Google+

google plusThere are only a handful of people who can claim to have been a bigger Google+ evangelist than I was in 2014.

Despite article after article proclaiming Google+ dead, (most of which were baseless and ludicrous), I persevered to preach the gospel of Google+ and the potential for those who embraced it.

I did this, not because Google+ was my identity or because I had some vested interest in its success, but because I believed there was an untapped resource waiting for new content creators to come and fill it up with value (and many did).

I neither intended for, nor wanted to be, “The Google+ Guy.” But something special was happening. It was undeniable.

People were connecting, engaging, sharing, supporting each other, and building a community unlike any I’d ever experienced online.

It was intoxicating.

Google+ was the perfect marriage of long-form social content and a robust comment culture (a respectful and thoughtful comment culture).

Real relationships were being built.

Trust and respect were spreading throughout the network.

Google+ was everything that a social media network was supposed to be.

We even had a robust #starwarstuesday community…

Over the course of 2014, more than 90% of my social media time was spent on Google+.

Connections turned into audience members and audience members into friends.

Google+ was where the action was.

I couldn’t get enough.

Becoming an Evangelist

Quickly my inbox started to fill up with questions about building an audience on Google+.

From tactics to strategy, everyone wanted to know the secrets of effective Google+ marketing.

I couldn’t help but start answering these questions in the best way I know how: Video.

One video became three, three videos became ten and over the course of few weeks The Google+ Starter Kit (course now defunct) was born.

Features unique to Google+, such as hovercards, (referenced in the video above), created audience building opportunities social networks such as Twitter and Facebook still lack.

Google+ was becoming the embodiment of a mature social media network.

Circles created an spam-free social experience (For more circles and their use listen to this interview I did with Chris Ducker). We were able to filter our content intake based on interest or need and target the conversation we wanted to be a part.

Then came Google Hangouts and all of the sudden we could take our conversations into the quasi-physical world by communicating face-to-face.

Google Hangouts were such a powerful tool I decided to record approximately 40 episodes of the Content Warfare Podcast as Google Hangouts before striping the audio and pushing out as a traditional podcast.

See one of my favorite episode with Marcus Sheridan below:

Don’t forget about short-lived awesomeness that was Google Authorship or the viral engine that was the Google+ Comments craze.

New features were released fast, furious and they were totally incredible for the thought-leaders who embraced the platform.

For a time, Google+ created an unparalleled universe of audience engagement.

Then Perception Became Reality

google plus ghosttown

Google+ has always felt like a side project.

For those of us using Google+ every day the potential and possible were obvious.

At the same time, to outsiders, Google+ was simply another failed Google experiment, a “Ghosttown.”

But in the early days, dissenting opinions had little impact.

True believers (such as myself) were pedal to the floor and recruiting new members to the cult every day.

Then Vic Gundotra, the Head of Google+, left the project, and TechCrunch wrote, “Google+ is Walking Dead,” marking a watershed moment in the history of Google+.

Then Forbes followed up with this gem: Is Google+ Really Walking Dead?

Then the Huffington Post piled on with this article: Google+ Isn’t Dead. It’s Just In A Coma And On Life Support

Mark Traphagen did his best to clear the air: Why Google Plus Will Not Die (But May Change)

Lee Odden of TopRank came to Google+’s defense with this article: If Google+ Is The Walking Dead, Should Your Brand Run?

But the damage was done. There was little chance anyone who hadn’t already fallen in love with Google+ would make the time to learn its quirks and build an audience.

Forbes still hasn’t given up the fight against Google+: Five Reasons Why Google+ Died

…and Mark Traphagen keeps fighting the good fight: A Truly Awful Google+ Hatchet Job on Forbes Exposed

But the negative articles just keep coming, like this one Wired: Google+ as We Knew it is Dead, But Google is Still a Social Network

And another from Marketing Land: What The Unofficial Death Of Google+ Means For Marketing

If you didn’t already love Google+, would you make time to learn a new social platform with all this negative press (legitimate arguments or not)?

Most haven’t…

Was Google+ the Greatest Social Media Network in the History of the World?

Yes.

For a time.

Unfortunately, today, I’m not so sure.

That doesn’t mean Google+ isn’t important tool, as Mark Traphagen explains in his own podcast:

Google+ is still an amazing social media platform.

It just can’t be your only platform.

More importantly, looking out over the landscape of content platforms you must consider in your digital marketing activities

For what’s it worth, I believe the Google+ format is most evolved of all the social networks.

Google+ is a content creators playground.

That doesn’t mean Google+ should be a marketers priority.

And this is the point.

As marketers and business owners we must prioritize our activity. The reason I’m breaking up from Google+ is because in order to grow my business I had to expand out and reach into new communities.

Don’t waste time on Google+ unless there is a specific audience which lives there you cannot reach on a platform you’ve already built workflows around.

Answer this question and move forward.

Thank you and good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

P.S. Build a successful content marketing foundation. Get your copy of my new book, Content Warfare here.