Bye-Bye Google Plus!
While for some it came as a shock, others saw it coming and knew it was imminent—Google announced its plans to shut down the consumer version of its social network, Google+.
According to Google’s VP of Engineering, Ben Smith, 90% of user sessions on Google+ lasted for less than two seconds. A big problem no doubt, but what ultimately led to the platform’s demise was a much bigger issue that recently surfaced.
An unexpected bug in the Google+ code lead to a private data breach of profiles of up to 500,000 individuals. While there’s no evidence of the data being misused or the developers abusing the API, the platform will be shut down for consumers over the next 10 months.
What Caused The Breach?
In a detailed blog post published by Google, the reason behind this phenomenon was explained. A software bug in the Application Programming Interface (API) of Google+ gave third-party developers free reign over consumer data.
The breach was discovered back in March 2018 but since there was no evidence of misuse, it was exposed to the public only recently.
The Devil’s In the Details
Google+ users can choose who they allow access to their profiles. However, the bug granted unauthorized access to over 438 applications without the user’s knowledge and without these apps being marked as public.
The data that was breached includes names, age, gender, occupations, email addresses, and more. Note that no other data posted on or connected to Google+ was exposed. This includes Google account data, Google+ posts, G Suite content, phone numbers, messages etc.
Since the API log of Google+ was only kept for a couple of weeks, it cannot be confirmed who the victims of this breach were. Users were reassured that there was no deliberate misuse of the data.
Users can check their Google+ data by downloading it from Google’s Takeout. More information will be given on how to download and migrate existing Google+ data.
We Lost Google Plus, But Was It A Loss?
Although Google should be commended for launching an ambitious plan to introduce its own social network, the fact remains that the platform never really clicked with the target audience. This begs the question, ‘How Impactful Was Google+ To ROI?’
Google’s blog post admitted an uncomfortable truth about Google+ and consumer engagement. The post highlighted the fact that nearly 90% of the user sessions on Google Plus ended in 5 seconds or less—yikes!
This meant that a major reason that users were accessing Google+ was likely…by mistake. Once there, they didn’t find many satisfactory reasons to stay.
Not All Is Doom & Gloom—Not for enterprise customers, that is.
Enterprises found great value in using the network for their products. This was especially true in companies where co-workers engaged in internal discussions regarding a secure corporate social network.
From setting access rules to using central controls, there are many ways enterprise customers benefitted from using Google+. It seems like Google+ might have shut down for consumers but not for enterprise users.
So, What Does This Mean?
Created with the vision to eliminate the multiple audience dilemma, Google+ was meant to be a ray of hope for anxious network members concerned that their content reached the wrong audience.
Some believe that these supposedly good intentions were to blame for the early demise of Google+. It’s not such a bad thing after all, to see a post on social media which wasn’t mean for a particular consumer.
There was a time when Google tried to push the adoption of Google+ as a means to personalize search results. All this to say that although, its departure likely won’t be sorely missed, it’s worth noting that Google+ will be shut down for good.
Let’s discuss the impact this will have on:
- Digital Marketers
If there’s one thing digital marketers know, it’s to not keep all their eggs in one basket. The digital media space is incredibly dynamic. The latest data breach from a tech giant is a lesson for marketers that whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, when it comes to developing a marketing strategy, we can’t predict what the future holds.
Issues like these cause consumers to lose trust in tech companies which is why marketers should never rely solely on any one marketing platform. Marketers would do well to remember that a strong social media marketing campaigns consists of a healthy variety of social networks.
As more and more of such breach scandals come to the limelight, maintaining consumer trust will become that much harder.
- Social Media and SEO
It’s no secret that social media and SEO go hand in hand. Social media platforms proved to be useful ranking tools to boost SEO efforts. Google+ was used to combine both these features to help companies increase their conversion rates.
Google+ contributed to building a site’s online authority, despite not being an official ranking indicator. Even though it was Google’s own network, when the loss in audience engagement started, it didn’t significantly impact SEO.
Social media might not be the most crucial factor to constructing a solid SEO strategy. However, the position of your SERPs can be affected by YouTube and the popularity of your social media channels.
Still, the loss of Google+ might not be such a loss, after all.
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